ReRuns: ‘Daredevil’ is a Different Kind of Superhero

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“Daredevil” shows you what it’s like to take a punch just before it slugs you in the gut. It left a lasting impression on me — it’s rare I can watch a crime show or superhero story without immediately comparing it to “Daredevil.” Once I start talking about it, I have trouble stopping.

Full of striking cinematography, compelling characters and complex themes, “Daredevil” represents a superhero with a rare kind of depth. Even from the first episode, it grabbed my attention and didn’t let go. 

Part of “Daredevil’s” appeal is the difficult questions it poses to audiences. As Matt Murdock’s (Charlie Cox) life enters a downward spiral, the audience is forced to ask if it’s possible to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. Matt is violent and vengeful as his vigilante alter ego, and sometimes his motives get muddled.

In short, he’s not always a good guy, even though he’s “the good guy.” 

Although Cox’s (“Stardust,” “The Theory of Everything”) Matt Murdock drew me in, the supporting cast had their own similarly engaging stories. 

Matt’s relationships with his close friends and law partners, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) frequently brought me smiles, and sometimes tears. Watching Foggy trust Matt despite constantly being betrayed and brushed off was painful because both actors made their codependent bond feel believable and human. 

Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Matt’s charitable idealism starts to fall apart as he becomes more frustrated with the rampant corruption in New York. As things get worse, he struggles to balance his belief in law and order with his habit of dispensing vigilante justice. Interspersed between his musings about morality are philosophical and spiritual conversations with Father Lantom (Peter McRobbie) about how Matt’s actions fit in with his Catholic faith. 

The show’s depiction of faith and doubt struck a deep chord with me. Choosing to believe in something without firm proof is an indescribable but almost universal part of the human experience, and I found Matt’s shaky but constant faith in the existence of God and goodness inspiring. 

Of course, I’d be doing the show a disservice not to mention Vincent D’Onofrio’s soft-spoken and yet barely restrained Wilson Fisk. His onscreen presence made me empathize with and pity him, but remained unsettling, and at times, outright terrifying. He’s constantly like a caged animal — externally calm but only one minor frustration away from a violent outburst. 

D’Onofrio delivers Fisk’s chilling monologues with an intensity that makes me shiver every time he comes on screen. Fisk sums up his own purpose in the story with an oddly appropriate biblical reference: “It means that I’m not the Samaritan. That I’m not the priest, or the Levite. That I am the ill intent who set upon the traveler.” 

Illustration by Alec Karam ReRuns is a recurring column where writers discuss concluded shows they love.

Though the show takes a dip through a bloated second season, the tension from the first season returns in the third as a broken, haunted Matt Murdock faces Wilson Fisk again. All the effort it took to put him in prison in the first place seems useless, as Fisk has enough cash and charm to control anyone he wants. The conflict constantly builds up, all the way to a finale that feels both shocking and inevitable. 

Although the multidimensional characters sold me on the show, I can’t talk about “Daredevil” without praising its beautiful visual elements. In every shot, the lighting and framing creates an atmosphere that feels almost like a world of its own. Dramatic color palettes shape the tone of the show and add to the intensity of the drama. 

The show’s gritty realism — at least when compared with the talking raccoons and time-traveling wizards of the rest of the Marvel universe — is most apparent in its beautifully shot and choreographed fight scenes. Each sequence leaves Daredevil wounded and weakened in a way that made me almost feel each hit he took on my first watch.

Season one’s famous “hallway scene” absolutely lived up to my expectations. It’s an emotionally fueled brawl in which Daredevil takes on a Russian gang to rescue an abducted child. It takes place over one continuous shot, brilliantly coordinated by Phillip J. Silvera (“Deadpool,” “Terminator: Dark Fate”). 

If you’re looking for a story that will stick with you, watch “Daredevil.” You won’t regret it. 

All three seasons of “Daredevil” are available on Netflix. 

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