★ ★ ★
The television and movie world is booming with comic book adaptations, and Netflix’s original series “Daredevil” is one of the latest in a long line of titles that has proven immensely popular with its target audience.

Without going into too much detail, the show follows blind attorney Matt Murdock on his journey to clean up Hell’s Kitchen, NY from the criminal underworld.  But, it wouldn’t be a superhero story without of course his super powers, which are his enhanced senses that allow him to use his sense of smell and hearing to guide him, along with his super martial arts training, and of course his morality that is constantly questioned!

Frank Miller

The show is an embodiment of Frank Miller’s interpretation of the character with the religious symbolism he brought to the table, and the showrunners have tried their best to replicate Miller’s writing from the mid 80’s.  The problem is, Frank Miller isn’t actually associated with the series, and this takes away a certain understanding of the characters.  Miller said it best himself that Élodie Yung’s portrayal of Elektra isn’t the character he created.  The Netflix series seems to be suffering from a similar problem that Warner Bros. had when they decided to adapt Watchmen without Alan Moore – although both are good, they are both missing that unique touch.

It’s ironic that, what makes this adaptation of the character so successful and makes the audience watch it with glasses that are tinted rosier than Matt Murdock’s himself, is the 2003 “Ben Affleck version”.  People watch this version of the character and, without even realising it, compare it to that movie – and apparently that automatically makes the show a success.  In 2003, the superhero genre was a different kind of animal than it is today, and going by that alone you can’t actually compare this series to that movie.  Although they share the same title and original source material, it would be like comparing Adam West’s Batman (1966) to that of the Christopher Nolan trilogy.


What makes Netflix’s take on ‘The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen’ a great show is the incredible cinematography used throughout.  It’s the lighting and camera work, along with the music that has done an incredible job at capturing the essence of Frank Miller’s take on this character and the city that he exists in.  The showrunners have done an incredible job at visually creating a beautiful cinematic experience for their audience, and because of this they have succeeded in one of the most important aspects of the series – creating a living, breathing Hell’s Kitchen for ‘The Man without Fear’ to play around in.

The choreography in the fight scenes alone are worth watching this series.  The longshots of Matt beating on thugs aren’t just visually stimulating, but they hook the audience for their entire duration – which, in today’s ‘short attention span’ day and age, is a big statement to make.  You won’t find yourself quickly checking Facebook during these scenes.

There are of course certain aspects of this show that bother me that leave me dissatisfied with particular story arcs, and disappointed that these writers didn’t pick up on some of this stuff.
It feels to me that the writers and showrunners just wanted to feed that ‘instant gratification’ satisfaction of the fans.  Comic book fans are so eager to see their favourite characters appear on screen, that as soon as they have them, it’s on to the next.

Vincent D’Onofrio as “Wilson Fisk”

The character of Wilson ‘Kingpin’ Fisk could not have been cast any better than Vincent D’Onofrio. But, an incredible introduction was soon to be ruined by a rushed reveal of the character.  We as an audience all knew whom the character was.  I will never forget the first time we were introduced to the character, a beautiful tracking shot around an art gallery to reveal the back of this character’s head.  This created an immense amount of anticipation, which feeds people’s hunger to “binge watch” the show.  What bothers me though, is not long after this mysterious introduction, his face was quickly revealed, leaving nothing left to the imagination and completely killing that hungry anticipation the audience felt.

The idea behind Wilson Fisk was obviously to create mystery, which in turns creates anticipation.  Throughout the first few episodes of the show we don’t even hear his name, as people are too scared to mention him.  By revealing Fisk’s identity straight away, all of this suddenly means nothing.  If we are to believe that these criminals are scared of Fisk this much, then they need to emphasize it more.  Instead of just simply creating dialogue for the characters to say “I can’t tell you who I work for, he’ll kill me!!” – create this illusion for us – paint us a picture – don’t tell us, show us!

I felt the idea of Wilson Fisk’s introduction was ingenious, but it was ruined by either laziness, lack of vision, or desperation to satisfy the audiences impatience.  To me it would have made more sense it they gave Wilson Fisk the ‘Voldemort’ treatment – ‘He who must not be named’ – so every time you do actually hear the name Voldemort mentioned, you know it’s a big deal.

They should have built the entire first season around Matt finding his feet, and tracking the whispers of this unknown ‘Puppet Master’ – each time he takes a step forward, it feels like he’s just taken two steps back.  An entire season just emphasizing on the whispers of Wilson Fisk’s name.  Criminals are too scared to say his name – not three episodes in he gets name dropped, which is what actually happened!  Each of the very few times we do indeed see Fisk, his back should be entirely to the audience, just like the introduction creating mystery and building anticipation.

It irritates me that when the show is needing a plot device to ‘pull on the heart stings’ of the viewer, they always resort to splitting ‘Nelson & Murdock’ up – that’s twice in a row they’ve played that card.  Soon the audience will be numb to it and there will come a time when that plot device will be perfect for a story arc, but it won’t have the effect it could have, because by then, it would have been beaten like a dead horse.

Season 2 Poster

It bothers me that the development of Brett was rushed simply due to the writers needing an ally for Matt at the police force.  It frustrates me that the Frank Castle story arc felt like it was heading somewhere.  But, it turns out that the writers cared more about the presence of ‘The Punisher’ in the show because he’s “cool”, than the character actually having any real significance for being in the show in the first place.  A fantastic interpretation of the character by Jon Bernthal, no doubt, but let’s be honest here – the character was nothing more than an advertising device to get people to watch.  His story arc didn’t really make much of a difference, other than solidify Karen Page as senior ‘Damsel in Distress’ of the Marvel television universe.  Yeah it was cool seeing him blow stuff up and brutally murder people, but take his character out of the series and what actual difference does it make?

Overall, “Daredevil” is a beautiful shot television show.  Its Noir/Kung Fu stylistic approach really embodies the world in which Frank Miller created for the character in the 1980’s.  I would highly recommended watching it, but the show is not without its flaws.

Follow Jake on Twitter @IAmJakeJesus