This week for Top 10 Tuesday (yeah, I know it’s Wednesday, sorry) we bask in the afterglow of Marvel’s Daredevil by recounting the top 10 things that made it so good.
10. Light but Fitting Ties to the MCU
An early concern for Daredevil and the other Defenders series was how it would balance the seemingly darker tone with the more fantastical universe that Marvel established with their films and Agents of SHIELD. But the ties to the MCU were simple, all of that fantastical stuff is happening, but now the spotlight is on the small stage. In a stroke of genius, the writers even tied the damage caused in The Avengers to the current organized crime in Hell’s Kitchen.
09. Teases of the Future
But using the background of the current MCU properties wasn’t the only use of Marvel’s rich catalog. We also were given brief glimpses of other figures from the future of the MCU. Some of these additions included Night Nurse, and Gladiator, as well as various more subtle clues to several villains, corporations, and historical Marvel references. Some of which will likely come into play through Marvel’s other Defender series.
08. Delicately Weaving in the Fantastical
Though Daredevil has a more gritty, realistic, and overall darker tone than anything else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it still takes place in the same world. Everything that happened in The Avengers remains part of the backstory of Daredevil, and as such, there ARE elements of the fantastical in Daredevil. Thankfully, they are subtly woven into the series, a mystical order of Ninjas, a child that might act as a dangerous weapon, an elderly Chinese woman who speaks every language and comes from a place much further away from New York than China. Most of the fantastical elements of Daredevil are either briefly spoken of or hinted at in cryptic passing exchanges.
07. Brutality and Exhaustion in the MCU
One common complaint about Marvel’s properties has been the limitless energy of its characters and lack of significant consequences for the violence and destruction in the events of the stories. Daredevil is different. Daredevil takes the time to dwell on the pain and injury that are part of the life of a costumed vigilante. A certain fight scene, that shows up later in this list, even has moments in which Daredevil has to force himself away from a wall he is leaning on in mid fight. We truly feel the weight of Matt Murdoch’s late night activities. In addition to what Murdoch himself deals with, the other characters in Daredevil face mortal peril, many die, and often in brutal and upsetting ways that stand in stark contrast to the PG-13 nature of the MCU as a whole. 2 words, car door.
As with every other Netflix original series, Daredevil dropped its entire season at once. Sometimes after finishing a binge there is a depression that comes with waiting at least a year for the next. Daredevil, however, is just part 1 of a 5 part plan, which means we get more of the story in Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Marvel’s Luke Cage, Marvel’s Iron Fist, and Marvel’s The Defenders. In addition to all of that, a second season will be coming in 2016, much sooner than those who knew the full depth of The Defenders project assumed.
05. Grumpy Old Man Stick
Stick came into the series as such a wonderful departure to the sage old master trope. Stick doesn’t stay locked away in some lonely temple atop a mountain in China. No, Stick is active, and unlike his student, Stick is more than willing to kill when the mission calls for it, even if the target is a child. On top of all of that, Stick is played off as a grumpy “get off my lawn” old man as he lectures Matt Murdoch on the necessity of killing. A brief scene at the end of an episode shows Stick reporting to a massive scared man, a scene originally intended as a post credits tease for the end of the series. This implies a unifying thread to the other Marvel/Netflix series. So it seems we haven’t seen the last of Stick, and that is cause for celebration.
04. The Single Shot Hallway Fight
Episode 2 of the Series ends with a single shot fight sequence that sees Daredevil entering a criminal base of operation in order to save a young boy from human traffickers. Considering that the episode begins with Daredevil being rescued from a dumpster and treated to emergency care by the future Night Nurse, you can understand that Daredevil enters this fight in a weakened state. But that is who Daredevil is, the man who won’t stay down, who won’t quit, the relentless devil of Hell’s Kitchen. The scene begins with a man delivering food to the imprisoned child, the camera follows the man back to the room he came from but stays in the hallways as the man exits frame, the camera slowly pushed to the end of the hallway, and Daredevil enters the frame, carefully sneaking down the hall. He takes a moment before bursting through the door and initiating the shows best fight sequence. Filmed in a single shot, and taking moments to show the exhaustion and brutality of vigilantism, the fight sequence has quickly become the most talked about aspect of the series.
03. Complex Ethical Struggles
Daredevil faces the common superhero dilemma relating to the need for violence, yet necessary abhorrence to killing. Daredevil handles this struggle with exceptional care, unlike many others have before. There is a moment in the series in which our hero realizes that Fisk is simply too big to bring down. No matter what they throw at the Kingpin, he just has too much influence, and at the end of the day, they are like flies, who can only serve to pester. At his lowest, after a tragedy brought about on Fisk’s orders, Murdoch decides to kill the Kingpin. Though this does not come to pass, a death does occur as the result of his action, and his identity is discovered by best friend Foggy. Eventually, Murdoch and crew find a better way to take down Fisk.
02. Kingpin/Wilson Fisk, the Best Marvel Villain
Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, is already being heralded as the best villain the MCU has ever had. He is written with a purposeful moral ambiguity, though much of the credit to Wilson Fisk’s villainous role in the series can be directly attributed to the actor who portrays him. Vincent D’Onofrio pulls out a stunning performance as an awkward, yet brilliant, and soft spoken man with an impossibly imposing physical presence. D’Onofrio is a big man, but he isn’t even the largest amongst the cast of Daredevil, and they don’t even use visual trickery to make him much larger. And yet, the Kingpin is never perceived as being anything but a giant amongst all others. Fisk is a coiled snake, ready to strike, and yet desperate for affection and a soft touch. Every moment Fisk has on screen is tense and complicated.
01. Knowing that it is just the first part of a 5 part plan
More than anything, what makes Daredevil so good is that is part of something bigger. It is to the Defenders what Iron Man was to The Avengers, a great stand alone story that gateways into an elaborate and ever expanding universe. Though Daredevil is part of an existing cinematic universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is exploring a new corner of it, just as Guardians of the Galaxy did, and Dr. Strange and Ant-Man, each, will. I got to binge a great series, knowing that a lot more was coming, and now I know that phase 2 is on the way as well.
Marvel’s Daredevil is a phenomenal piece of television, that hopes to usher in 4 more phenomenal pieces of television. Tell us what you thought of Daredevil, and our top 10 list about it, in our comments, and stay tuned to TVEnthusiast for more coverage of Daredevil, and all of your favorite shows.