Hell’s Kitchen, New York rebuilds after the Chitauri invasion, the big players of the criminal underground set their plans in motion, and the Law Offices of Nelson and Murdock, Defense Attorneys, get their first client.
Welcome to Hell’s Kitchen, a run down neighborhood suffering damages from the Chitauri invasion, now referred to as “The Incident.” Construction to rebuild the area is underway, but in the meantime, real estate prices are at an all time low, giving defense attorneys Foggy Nelson and the blind Matt Murdoch their first law offices at an affordable price.
Soon after their office is set up, they are called to take on their first client, a Ms. Karen Page, who claims to have been framed for the murder of her co-worker by her place of employment, Union Allied Construction, the company overseeing the rebuilding of Hell’s Kitchen. Matt, convinced of her innocence, works with his partner Foggy to find a way to clear Ms. Page of the charges through the justice system. Though, by night, Matt Murdock stalks the streets as a masked vigilante, taking justice into his own hands.
Daredevil wastes no time in showing the viewers what is necessary to know about these characters, an example being Matt Murdock’s super human abilities. As a young boy, Matt was involved in a car accident and his eyes were splashed with hazardous chemical waste, blinding him, but heightening his other senses to super human levels, letting him listen to someone’s heart beat or a cry for help from miles away. It’s a popular complaint of super hero origin stories spending too much time on explaining where they acquired their super human gifts, so the fact that this particular origin story took less than two minutes is refreshing.
From the start, Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson are believable as long time friends. Charlie Cox and Elden Henson perform well together, bouncing off of each other and showing great chemistry. It’s easy to see the history between these two characters, and their ties to the neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen.
The show’s villains, a group of multinational crime bosses working through Union Allied and a mysterious “employer,” make plans based around something that has often been joked about. With the Incident damaging so much of the city, Union Allied has secured the contracts to rebuild, also securing a large profit. As Leland Owlsley, the crime syndicate’s money man, puts it “Heroes and their consequences are why we have our current opportunities.”
While the writing and characters are strong, the action sequences throughout the show should be recognized on their own merit. It’s common in superhero movies to see the protagonist take a hit here and there, but to ultimately be nearly invincible. It’s not so for Daredevil. Matt Murdock does not have super strength, only enhanced senses. He is still a normal, but well trained, man. And during these fights, he gets hit. A lot. But as it’s explained in a beginning monologue from Matt Murdock, his father, a former boxer, can take a punch, and so can he. No matter how many times he’s hit, he gets back up. The wear and tear on him from the fights can be seen in not only his bruises and scars, but in his performance. He has to catch his breath. He’s visibly exhausted after an intense fight.
The weakest point was the show’s use of flashbacks. The opening scene of Matt’s origin can be considered a flash back, and it served it’s purpose well. However, towards the end of the episode we’re shown another flash back, but at an inopportune moment. While the scene does show the impact Matt’s father has on him and why he fights, where his inspiration comes from, it was shown during a serious fight Matt was having with a would-be assassin. The biggest problems with flashbacks is the diversion from the current action. Being so wrapped up in what is going on in the present, only to be taken away from it to see the past, and then to be thrown back into the present, can be jarring.
The cast of Marvel’s Daredevil stands out in their performance, just like the writing and fight choreography. This show takes a much darker tone than the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but with hints and references, stays connected to the other shows and movies.