Netflix's Daredevil - spoiler-free series review: Essential viewing even if you're not a Marvel fan

Charlie Cox proves he is a Marvel-ous superhero

Charlie Cox as Daredevil
Charlie Cox as Daredevil

It’s been three weeks now since Netflix catapulted the entire first series of Marvel’s latest pyjama-wearing fighting-man bonanza at us and if you’ve not been convinced to give it a go yet, then do. Having now seen the full series, I can say that Daredevil is superb television (do we call it television? Superb laptop? Internet? Streaming? Anyway, it’s superb). And, full disclosure, I am no Marvel buff - my opinion is that of the average TV (laptop/internet/stream) viewer.

Sure Daredevil is silly and hammy at times (a good man punches bad men while wearing his jimjams and a big sock on his head) but it scores high in every department and possesses a leading man (Charlie Cox) with the chops to hold it all together. Chuck in a genuinely menacing baddie (Vincent D’Onofrio, showing what might have happened if Sergeant Pyle had half a brain and was still alive), a pair of sidekicks with chemistry and meaningful storylines (Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll as Foggy Nelson and Karen Page) and a witty, taut script, and you’ve got yourselves a winner.

Cox’s blind, principled lawyer-by-day-superhero-by-night (you know the type) Matt Murdock is a refreshing addition to the modern superhero stable. He’s not even really that super, he’s more Very Good. As the series progresses Murdock wrestles with the morality with what he is doing (punching people) and, as the lines between what’s right and what’s wrong begins to blur, he leans more heavily on his Catholic faith. Should he rely upon the strictures of the law or take it into his own hands? To bring down D’Onofrio’s bald polar bear in a suit Wilson Fisk, must he use the courts or his fists? You can probably have a fair stab at this one.

As for those much-mentioned fight scenes, they are remarkable. Daredevil is human, though one with extraordinary abilities, and can’t take a punch the same way Thor or Captain America can. This often lends the fight scenes a heavy, clumsy texture which makes them exhilarating. The corridor fight in episode two is so good it brought to mind RP McMurphy wearily fighting the orderlies in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

Directorial inventiveness – one fight scene is played out with the camera staring at a spectator’s face, another is glimpsed out the back window of a taxi – stop these scenes becoming a repetitive collage of cracking bones and high kicks. Though be warned – if you decide to watch a few episodes back to back, you’ll be hearing the dull thud of fist on flesh for days.

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Marvel's Daredevil premiered on Netflix earlier this month

t’s not all perfect. The script too often leans back on characters suddenly telling ‘stories’ apropos of nothing, in order to indicate depth or tension. Foggy and Karen’s cutesy-poo banter is reminiscent of the worst kooky excesses of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And Wilson Fisk’s love interest is handled far too inelegantly, making the character of Vanessa seem borderline psychotic.

Whether you decide to ration yourself to sips or glug down all 13 episodes in one sitting, Daredevil is essential viewing.

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