Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

“Marvel’s Daredevil” a step down in quality for Netflix


Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers for the first seven episodes of “Marvel’s Daredevil.”

Netflix’s “Marvel’s Daredevil” tells the story of Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), a blind attorney. Wouldn’t you know it, Murdock also spends his nights as Daredevil, a vigilante defending Hell’s Kitchen, “his city,” from bad guys of all shapes and sizes. Quite literally, the one thing that differentiates this iteration of Daredevil from recent screen depictions of Batman or the Green Arrow is the fact that Daredevil’s alter-ego is a lowly ambulance-chasing lawyer and not massively rich in some way. In episode five, Murdock actually says, “I need to be the man this city needs.” Does that sound familiar?

In the spirit of not coming across wholly negatively, I’ll start this review off by discussing some of what’s good in “Marvel’s Daredevil.” The core cast is pretty solid. British actor Charlie Cox is reasonably mediocre in the central role. While not spectacular as Murdock, Cox is certainly not as generically boring as some of Marvel’s big-screen heroes (ahem, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth). His fake American accent is rough at the start of the series but gets better and subtler as the series progresses. Elden Henson is funny and relatable as Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, Murdock’s law partner. Foggy’s dynamic and relationship with his and Murdock’s secretary Karen Page, played by Deborah Ann Woll, are hands down the best element of the show.

The success of the Karen-Foggy relationship is due more to Woll’s performance than to Henson’s. The best performer of the bunch, Woll plays Karen Page with a perfect mix of charm, humor and vulnerability. These qualities come across because of Woll’s terrific performance and not at all because of anything the show’s writers have accomplished.

The last member of the core cast is Rosario Dawson. She plays Claire Temple, Daredevil’s unofficial nurse, confidant and love interest. Dawson is great here, even better than Cox, who is her primary scene partner. She manages to hold down Claire’s corner of the show very well.

There. That’s the good stuff. Onto the bad.

“Marvel’s Daredevil” is boring to the point of being unbearable. When it spends time with Matt, Karen, Foggy or Claire, “Daredevil” can be fun and engaging, if unremarkable, television. But “Daredevil” spends a surprising amount of time away from its core cast. There are at least two episodes that focus much of their screen-time on the saga of two generic Russian gangsters. These episodes are mind-numbingly dull. Every second not focused on Daredevil and his gang is completely uncalled for. It’s hard to imagine what the crew behind “Daredevil” was thinking when they were shooting scenes with the generic Russian gangsters being vaguely menacing at each other. These scenes seem like filler, as if the writers couldn’t come up with enough stuff for Daredevil to do, so they sat down for a couple of hours, wrote a bunch of nonsense about boring Russian dudes and then Netflix filmed it and used it in their hugely anticipated, high profile TV show.

The fight scenes in “Daredevil” tend to follow a strict formula (with a few exceptions): Daredevil is beating up a bad guy or two; he has them close to death. One of them reaches for a gun or pulls out a knife, but seconds before he manages to use his weapon to defeat Daredevil, the superhero notices it and quickly breaks the bad guy’s arm or leg, completely destroying the villain and rendering him unconscious or dead. There are two fight scenes in the first seven episodes that are even vaguely exciting, but even those two scenes go on way too long. A show like “Daredevil,” so heavily reliant on fight scenes, needs to consistently execute those scenes in a dramatically and narratively interesting way. “Daredevil” doesn’t even come close to doing that.

The first few episodes of “Daredevil” hint at an intimidating villain that is has been unseen. His henchmen show up and get mad when other people try to say his name (“We do not say his name!”). Subsequently, we learn that the villain’s name is Wilson Fisk, and he eventually shows up being played by Vincent D’Onofrio. There is nothing wrong with D’Onofrio’s performance per se, but the quality of the material he’s working with is bleak to say the least. He spends a large portion of his first big episode on a date – a boring, mostly uneventful date. It’s painfully lifeless and very dull to sit through.

In its first seven episodes, “Marvel’s Daredevil” proves itself to be just another averagely tedious superhero show. On the surface it might seem darker, more adult and grittier than some of the other superhero shows currently on TV. Though in reality, it is none of these things; it aspires to thematic darkness but only manages a slightly darker color palette than something like “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” or the CW’s “Arrow” and “The Flash.” “Daredevil” is just barely worth checking out for the four very good central performances, but viewers will find little else to enjoy.

Eli Fine can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ElazarFine.

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  • M

    mariaJul 7, 2015 at 4:50 am

    Like retivin, I thought I was the only person too who found this show boring and ponderous. At moments it gives you a promise of a good show. I’m a fan of an epic storytelling style, but just because nothing happens doesn’t make it epic. This show lacks depth. It’s like an onion you start peeling expecting finding a layer under a layer and after couple of first ones you realize the damn onion was hollow.

    Only some really good acting has saved it so far. How the heck can people make such boring fight scenes in a superhero show? They are so predictable that it feels like total waste of time to watch them.

    Only thing making this show “dark” is lack of light.

  • R

    retivinApr 24, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    I thought I was the only person who found this show boring. It seems like everyone else loves every moment of this show, and I just can’t care. I’m more interested in Karen Page’s office furniture auction than almost anything Daredevil does.