A couple weekends ago, I finished watching Daredevil on Netflix. This was before a second season was announced, so I am trying to keep the majority of my thoughts about the series and my overall impressions limited to pre-second season announcement.
Daredevil in terms of tone, source material and execution is perhaps one of the truest to form adaptations I have seen of a comic book property, and also one of the best that has emerged from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A street-level vigilante, Daredevil as a character and as a series struck a particularly dark, grimy and bloody tone. Charlie Cox was one of the key highlights of casting from the series, and his portrayal of an antagonist straddling the lines of the law had the right balance of delusional, righteous, and almost humbling. Our hero takes a beating (several in fact), and while he toes the line throughout the series, seems to always just come short of crossing it, his religious and legal convictions holding him back.
Daredevil is a show that gave a little something to everyone. For non-fans, it gave a gritty crime drama. For fans, it gave them a new, fresh take on the Daredevil mythos, and for Marvel Studios, it gave them an opportunity to reinvent the character after their abysmal attempt to bring the Man Without Fear to the silver screen under Ben Affleck.
The writers on the series took their time giving us the origin story of Daredevil. Instead of rushing through a five minute montage, the writersgave us the backstory over the course of the 13-episode series. Largely adapting the Frank Miller origin tale Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, the show adds a few nuances, takes a few liberties, and pays if off rather well. For fans unaware of the character, or with limited exposure, they got a solid story that gets them into Hell’s Kitchen and into the heads of our protagonist and antagonist. For fans of the character, they get a rather faithful retelling of a well-loved storyline. For the mega fans, there’s easter eggs galore, such as when Nobu the head of the Japenese mob goes after Daredevil. Dressed in red ninja robes, the average person would see him as a ninja. For longtime fans, it’s a nod and a wink to The Hand, a notorious sect of ninjas that have plagued Daredevil over the years.
…Or even the use of Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime. He is offhandedly referred to as “The King” in the series, but his somewhat hokier comic book moniker of the Kingpin is not referenced, instead the writers playing with the gag that Fisk’s name should never be uttered (a double-entente, referring to his moniker not being used, and also Fisk’s desire to remain a secret).
So where am I going with all of this? Simply said, that in a world where we have an over-saturation of comic book properties become movies and television shows, one or two truly rise above all the others, and it comes down to writing. Get a good story, give something to a broad range of viewers, gather strong actors, and the finished product will speak for itself.