Marvel’s ‘Daredevil’: More Gritty, Gruesome, and Graphic than Batman

Marvel’s Daredevil premiered on April 10th on Netflix. After all of the hype and promotion, Netflix’s first Marvel series more than delivers on its promise of a gritty, ground -level superhero series.

Just watching the opening credits, it’s clear something epic is on the way.

Daredevil takes you front and center into the life of a self-professed vigilante, but sparing much of the unrealistic, fantastical elements that can sometime plague comic book adaptations. Matt Murdoch, the soon-to-be “Daredevil,” played by Charlie Cox, is just earning his stripes as he opens his fledgling law firm, takes on his first cases, and starts out as a crime fighter.

But don’t expect any of his wins to be easy. He is new to the game after all. And heightened senses be damned, he isn’t immune to getting kicked in the face now and again or being left in a dumpster, stabbed and bleeding out. For Marvel, a company that has been sometimes criticized for too “shiny” superhero portrayals, this is a major, successful deviation from what has come before.

With this shift in tone, there is also a shift in style. The matte color schemes and use of shadow gives a real sense of the darkness that is slowly consuming the city. The fight scenes are quick, laden heavily with boxing, kicks and flips in confined spaces. We see skin split, blood splatter, and broken bones protrude. Daredevil engages in some of the most heart-stopping fight scenes ever shown in a comic feature.

Charlie Cox does an outstanding job of portraying the “Man Without Fear,” turning in a strikingly real and believable performance as a blind man (without being over the top about it) and looking convincingly intimidating as a crime fighter. Still, the comparable efforts of the supporting cast rounds out the show. Elden Hanson is a “ripped from the pages” Foggy Nelson. Deborah Ann Woll plays a sweet, innocent, and dark Karen Page. Rosario Dawson brings heft to Claire Temple/Night Nurse.

And just like the comics, Murdoch fights for justice on two fronts, legally as a lawyer and not so legally by dropping people off rooftops.

Yes, Marvel went there. Yes, I gasped.

I won’t spoil plot points here since Netflix shows can be watched on anyone’s decided schedule, but Daredevil is a must watch. It doesn’t feel self-important, and it tackles the realities of a person taking the law into his own hands. The comparisons to DC’s Batman property are easy to make, but Daredevil goes even more gritty, gruesome, and graphic than the recent Bat-films. Even still, it nestles perfectly into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), as it is set in a Hell’s Kitchen still recovering from the alien attack that took place in The Avengers.

Daredevil isn’t about global threats and superpowers; it’s about the everyday injustices that take place in the shadows. Somebody has to be there for those folks too, and Matt Murdoch is just the guy to do it, whether in the court room or in the alleys. If you haven’t streamed it yet, you need to start now.

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Daren W. Jackson

Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.