Warning: Spoiler Alert
The highly anticipated Marvel series, the first of which to find its way onto the Netflix platform, starts exactly the way it should. A man navigates a sea of people with trepidation in his eyes. For those that are not familiar with the story, Matt Murdock the protagonist, loses his sight from a chemical accident. That man is his father en route to discovering his son’s fate. The circumstances that lead to this accident, I’m sure will be revealed down the road.
While Jack Murdock slowly experiences what has happened, an old man is helped off the ground and yells out, “your boy saved my life”. Early beginnings of a hero yet to be realized. Young Matt scared, exclaims that his eyes burn. Then the visual effect the show runners use to illustrate a rapidly deteriorating sense of sight, was subtly impressive.
Fast forward to present day and we find adult Matt Murdock in confession. The scene lasts a little long, but for a reason. Daredevil was created to stand alone. Meaning, you need not be familiar with the comics or even the 2003 movie (that most people hated) in order to ‘get it’. This is an essential device to illustrate the man Murdock is and the contrast between this man in confession and the man who will don the mask very soon. It also gives a little perspective to the admiration he had for his father and the origin of what will become the hero namesake. “Watch out for those Murdock boys, they have the devil in them.”
Priest: Maybe this would be easier if you told me what you’ve done…
Matt Murdock: I’m not seeking penance for what I’ve done, I’m asking forgiveness…for what I’m about to do.
Not cross-breed brands but, the next scene and our first introduction to the hero Daredevil comes in a scene reminiscent of the docks scene from Batman Begins. Dark, loading docks, containers. In the darkness, Daredevil just appears. Then takes out the muscle and gets the people out of their intended to be used in a human trafficking ring. I can’t imagine accurately capturing this in text. However, I will say that hinting to a ‘Jason Bourne’ style was accurate. You do feel like you are experiencing each hit.
Foggy Nelson, Matt’s law partner (played by Elden Henson) calls Matt for his not so courteous wake up call. Foggy is walking through Hell’s Kitchen jabbing Matt about his exploits the night before assuming its a woman and not moans from injuries sustained by fighting crime. Then Foggy goes to bribe a cop. It’s innocent enough as the cop is a childhood adversary of Foggy’s. The bribe is to get a head’s up when a prospective client/criminal comes across his radar.
Matt and Foggy meet a real estate agent for office space for their upstart law practice. A running gag with Foggy is just how much he is annoyed/jealous of Matt’s ability to woo women with his ‘blind charm’. Even when (or maybe specifically when) Matt is short with his responses, he gets the desired effect. Leaving Foggy to just roll his eyes.
If you’ve wondered just how might this (or not) fit in with the Cinematic Marvel Universe, or MCU, they answer that question rather quickly. The real estate lady references “the incident” of course referring to the Battle of New York in which the Avengers (Captain America, Ironman, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye) fought Loki’s Chitari army and almost wiped New York and thus Hell’s Kitchen off the map.
Here’s where the story picks up speed. Karen Paige, who may look familiar to you. as she played by the same woman to played Jessica on HBO’s True Blood, wakes to find a man dead and bloody while she’s holding the murder weapon. Nelson and Murdock appear shortly thereafter, benefit from bribing the desk officer. Karen has no money, prompting Foggy to try to leave. Murdock purposes the idea that they can help each other. She needs defense council and they need clients.
Karen tells her story. It’s damaging to any hope she’ll walk out of there ever again. She met a co-worker for drinks. They had a couple of drinks, then she woke up covered in his blood holding the knife. As she recants this story we the audience, hear the subtle sound of her heartbeat. Well, Matt Murdock hears it. This is a brilliant, less is more, approach to showing his ‘ability’ as opposed to inventing ‘sonar hearing’ as they did in the 2003 movie to utilize the technology of the time.
A man in a suit walks up and sits next to a man who is absolutely not in a suit. This is a power play to put this older more modest looking man in Wilson Fisk’s pocket. Don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything, but we all know Wilson Fisk is the bad guy, we just haven’t met him yet. This man’s shown a video of his daughter while at college in real-time.
In her holding cell, Karen wakes up a second or two before a guard begins to choke her out. That guard is the man from the previous paragraph. He’s about to turn her lights out, so to speak, when she reaches up and gauges his right eye. This prompts the first standoff between Nelson and Murdock and the New York District Attorney’s office and the local detectives. Murdock demands Karen be released immediately, even if the detective doesn’t like Matt’s tone.
Union Allied Construction (Karen’s employer) has been doing something fishy with the pension portion of their books. When Karen brought this to their attention, they shrugged it off. She made the mistake of opening the file. That’s the big mistake. Having the file is a huge loose end to tie up. During their more candid conversation from Matt’s living room, he asks Karen if she kept the file. We know she lied when she said no by the increased rate of speed of her heart rate as she tells it.
In the night, Karen sneaks out to retrieve the flash drive that she absolutely has and hid. Luckily Matt woke up just in time to hear her leave. When she gets to her apartment, a man is lurking in the shadow. Before the assailant can do anything to her, Daredevil shows up. A violent a frenetic fight sequence breaks out. The sequence starts in Karen’s apartment, but doesn’t end there. Daredevil and the assailant throw each other out of the window. On street level, they exchange blows. Murdock can hear the faint sound of chain links clinking against a metal scaffolding. Daredevil uses this to his advantage wrapping it around the assailant, then kicking him and knocking him out.
Daredevil removes the flash drive from the assailants pocket. Karen is beside herself for witnessing what she has just witnessed. Then Daredevil says he will get this in the right hands. Karen immediately switches gears suggesting that he can’t trust anyone and especially not the police.
Karen: You can’t take it to the police. You can’t trust anyone.
Daredevil: Then we tell everyone.
(The beaten and now shackled assailant is thrown onto outer steps with an envelope taped to his chest that reads “editor”)
Fisk’s right hand man speaks to him on speaker phone about the status of the various people involved to this point. Most of them have been ‘ended’ in ways that cannot be traced back to Fisk. The belief is that Karen doesn’t know anything that wasn’t printed in the newspaper article. Then they move to Nelson and Murdock, described as ‘ambulance chasers’. Then we clearly hear Fisk say to start a file on them as they may be of some use.
Karen makes dinner as thanks for Nelson and Murdock keeping her safe and out of prison. Then a new symbiotic relationship is formed. Nelson and Murdock Attorneys at Law desperately need secretarial help that Karen is glad to provide, without a paycheck.
Our final series takes us through a montage of Matt hitting a heavy bag in the gym his father trained in after paying a gym employee to let him in after hours. While simultaneously seeing various crime elements getting ready for something. Guns, drugs, and now kidnapping. Including the Chechens from the first human trafficking attempt jumping out of a van, beating a man senseless and stealing his young son. At that point, Matt Murdock aka Daredevil stands on a rooftop taking in the sounds of injustice. Pulls down his mask. Credits.
Side note. Not to sound arrogant or to demean other such attempts, but one episode down and this Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix is easily the best comic book to television adaptation that I’ve seen to date. No disrespect to Agents of SHIELD or The Flash or Smallville or The Incredible Hulk. If you haven’t yet seen any of this new Daredevil series, I implore you to do so. The $7-10 a month service fee is a modest price to pay for what may be the best comic book to screen project ever attempted. At this point, it should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Check back to NJATVS for episode recaps on Marvel’s Daredevil. There is one slight difference. Check back to NJATVS every Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday as we will be recapping Daredevil episodes 3 times a week until season one has wrapped.