Netflix’s newest original series, “Daredevil” debuted April 10, with all 13 episodes of the Marvel Comic adaptation’s first season available on the streaming service. Ed Carroll will review each episode here on Monkeys Fighting Robots without fear and let you know if the latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe meets the lofty standards of its predecessors.
Daredevil spent a good potion of its first episode showing us Hell’s Kitchen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the show tightens its focus for the second episode, “Cut Man,” giving us an extended look into Matt Murdock’s youth and relationship with his father, in addition to the storyline in the present, which saw a badly-beaten adult Murdock get unlikely help from Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson). For the most part, the focus works wonderfully.
I complained in my first review that while I’m glad the show isn’t using the 2003 film’s awful sonar effects, it also isn’t explaining much of Murdock’s abilities to the viewer, either. This wasn’t completely rectified in “Cut Man,” but we did get a bit more clarity on his heightened senses. Having Temple call Murdock out on his weird abilities was a fun moment in some otherwise tense scenes, and while we didn’t get any sort of definitive answer, we got enough clarity for episode two, and it appears we could possibly get a bit more as the show goes on its 13-episode run in season one.
Another connection to the MCU was established in this episode, as Murdock’s father, Jack, was told by the agents who help him get the fight to throw a boxing match against Carl “Crusher” Creel in the fifth round. Creel was a heavy favorite anyways, but Jack was expected to at least finish out the match, and the agents were willing to pay Jack handsomely to make sure that didn’t happen. This follows the comics pretty closely, and wasn’t a surprise, but it was still sad to see Jack’s tragic ending when he decided he’d rather make his son proud by winning.
Creel was never actually shown, but we’ve already seen him in the MCU, actually; an older version of Creel appeared in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as the Absorbing Man, and Marvel confirmed the Daredevil version of Creel is the same person (but about 20 years or so younger, and without his powers). No, it’s not a major connection, but having all these films and shows tangibly linked is really fun, particularly if you have seen the others.
Dawson didn’t get to do too much other than tend to Murdock’s wounds (and tell him where to stab a cop without killing him), which was slightly disappointing because she’s a pretty great actress, but with her being a new character and much of the focus on Matt’s past, it wasn’t the end of the world for an episode. But Deborah Ann Woll’s Karen Page character got a lot more to do in this episode, as she and Foggy went out for a night (and I can’t believe I missed the connection in episode one, as Page has been a longtime on-and-off love interest for Murdock in the Marvel comics). It’s unclear if the show will move Murdock and Page together at this point (she seems to at least enjoy Foggy’s company), but it was nice to see her get some more development and see a less-slimy side of Foggy. The scene where they pounded on Murdock’s door (while he was interrogating the tied-up officer with Temple) was really funny, and helped lighten up a pretty dark episode.
Also, it’s worth noting that Temple is also a version of a character for the comics, and it’s worth noting that in the comics, she was introduced as a love interest for Luke Cage … who will also be getting his own show on Netflix at some point (but likely not until after we get the Jessica Jones show).
“Cut Man” helped to address another issue I had with the premiere, where I found the action scenes too darkly-lit at times to know who was who. The show didn’t suddenly get all sunny on us, but the final scene, where a wounded Murdock still takes out about eight guys in a small hallway, was probably the best action scene in either episode, and the lighting was absolutely perfect. It was more nightmarish than dreamlike, helping to convey the whole sense of “how is this man able to do all of this?” that the characters must be feeling. Still, the show probably needs to introduce a villain who’s more of a match for Daredevil soon, and since we didn’t see any of Kingpin in this episode, one has to think that reveal is coming soon.
But after two episodes, I’m about as hooked as I can get, and eagerly looking forward to sharing my thoughts on the next 11 episodes over the course of this weekend. Keep checking back at Monkeys Fighting Robots as you watch the show, and if we’re all lucky, the kind words on Netflix’s Daredevil will continue.
Watching Daredevil on Netflix, too? Leave a comment and let us know what you think. You can find his review of episode one here.