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Marvel’s Daredevil Review: Welcome to the Gruesome World of Hell’s Kitchen
Marvel’s Daredevil is more than just another masked vigilante fighting to save his beloved city. It has given the Marvel Cinematic Universe an opportunity to drag viewers down in a gloomier, more violent and dangerous world that has not been portrayed before.
This gritty and intense tone spreads across Hell’s Kitchen and its neighborhood, a portion of which is left stricken with poverty, crime, slavery, and drugs following the alien invasion of the Chitauri.
The dark aftermath has allowed the Russians, Japanese, and Chinese to form a sensitive alliance to take control of the city’s reigns from the shadows.
Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), blinded at a young age by a radioactive substance in an accident, runs a newly formed law agency with his friend Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson). By day, they pursue the legal system to bring justice to those who the city feels are not worth the time. At night though, the blinded lawyer dons his black attire to become the man without fear.
The accident may have robbed Murdock of his sight, but in return gifted him with heightened senses. The first couple of episodes focus heavily on this fact, showcasing how behind his blackened glasses, Murdock is fully able hear the pulsating heart to know if a person is lying, or detect the faint ticking of a wristwatch to pursue a person of interest.
“The Man in Black,” as he is coined by everyone in the start, has no qualms about resorting to violence. There is an excessive breaking of bones, pummeling crooks until they start singing, throwing those off roofs who make the grave mistake of kidnapping children. He sticks to the shadows and beats thugs to a pulp in dimly lit corridors, destroying them but still leaving them breathing – even if it is through a tube.
Matt Murdock is an excellent fighter who is able to take on multiple adversaries armed to the bone. That however, does not mean he is able to wipe the floor with them. He’s human, and gets torn up on a regular basis. Raw and stitched up, he is still willing to head out and take on bad guys.
Throughout the season, you’ll see him fighting under the stress of a broken body. This fact alone, combined with the excellent combat choreography, is something that every fan of the character would highly appreciate.
Matt Murdock though is not one without a conscious, even if his actions lead viewers to believe otherwise. His morale counter is in a constant battle between what’s right and wrong. He wants to stop the evil doings of the city, but knows that it would be impossible to do so without becoming the devil himself.
His adversary – the one bringing the different criminal families together – is Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), who is introduced in the series as a ghost. A powerful businessman who has half the city in his pockets, Fisk wants his criminal empire to flourish and take complete control of the city. He describes his ideals as a mission which will help rebuild the city and pave the way to a brighter future.
Wilson Fisk’s characterization has been done marvelously. This is a tale about his origins and his starting steps into the city’s criminal elements. He has not yet earned the name Kingpin, though there are several Easter eggs that tease his future self. He’s shy and hesitates when speaking. His nature might sometimes seem awkward, as he tries to keep each side happy.
However, there’s a dark side to Fisk’s child-like nature – his anger. When provoked, he sheds the little lost boy persona and transforms into a towering behemoth who mindlessly decapitates a fool using a car door, just because he dared to interrupt his dinner.
Fisk admits that he takes no pleasure from the cruelty he has to inflict, but he finds it necessary in order to reach his goals. He does not hesitate when it comes to bombing half the city, having his men murder adversaries, torture informants, or even if he has to do the job himself. He has a vision and he is bent on realizing it at any cost.
You could say that both Fisk and Murdock have similar goals. The difference lies in how each of them are out to achieving them.
Marvel’s Daredevil is truly a breath of fresh air from the usual masked superheroes series’ that are currently airing, and which will air in the future. This series, with its mature theme, does not shine a holy light on the protagonist. It’s defined by its body count, gruesome and excellently done fight scenes, gory murders and villainous entities that have no regard for humanity.
Matt Murdock with his mask on never escapes confrontations unscathed. He is bloodied, tired, broken, wounded, an immersive value that I can’t commend enough. He is dirtied by the filth of human slavery at the docks, assassinations in prisons, drug assembly lines of blind workers, murders of old women who refuse to vacate, corrupt lawmen, that all plague Hell’s Kitchen.
Marvel’s Daredevil shows us the consequences one must face when he decides to stand up in this world where the hero has no armored suiting or fancy gadgets, but just a mask to hide his identity, and his bare hands that hold batons and swell with skill.