Everything You Need to Know Before Binge-Watching Netflix's 'Daredevil'
By John Boone
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At exactly 12:01a.m. on Friday, April 10, Netflix will (finally!) unveil their latest original series: Marvel’s Daredevil, the first offering in powerhouse partnership that will recreate the formation of The Avengers with New York City's street-level superheroes.
Here’s everything you need to know about “The Man Without Fear” before digging into the 13 episodes (because trust us, once you start, you won’t be able to stop until the very end):
1. It's Not Another Superhero Origin Story: At least, not in the traditional Marvel sense. When we meet Matt Murdoch (Charlie Cox), blind lawyer by day and masked vigilante by night, he’s already fighting crime in Hell’s Kitchen. Murdoch doesn’t have the “Daredevil” moniker yet — for the first half of the series, everyone just calls him “The Man in Black” — or his horned suit (more on that shortly), but he’s already realized that he’s not a regular man; he’s something more. We can skip over that discovery.
We do see flashbacks to all the stuff you’d expect in Daredevil origin story — the accident that blinded him, his father’s murder — but it’s doled out over many episodes.
2. It Is an Origin Story Though: For other characters. Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple, for one, starts the series as an unassuming E.R. nurse, but you slowly start to see the seeds of her becoming the Night Nurse. (Fun fact: Cox told ETonline that when Marvel was casting the part, they said they were “looking for a Rosario Dawson type.” Nailed it.)
Then there’s Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio) and how he becomes the villain Kingpin. As is, Fisk is the Marvel cinematic universe’s most complicated, most compelling villain yet, if only for the juxtaposition of his “job” with his budding love story to a gallery owner named Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer).
“It’s equally important then when you see Wilson do something horribly violent, that it’s tempered by the incredible tenderness with which he’s fallen in love with Vanessa,” Jeph Loeb, Marvel’s head of television, told us. “You’re watching this love story and at the same time, ‘Oh my god! There’s an eruption of violence that I didn’t know was going to happen!’ and by the way, you’re on Netflix.”
3. It’s Not as Dark and Gritty as You Might Think: It is dark — literally. A lot of the show takes place at night — and gritty in the way bad neighborhoods in NYC are always gritty. But it isn’t dark and gritty for the sake of being dark and gritty.
“We wanted to tell a crime drama first and a superhero story second,” Loeb says. “That’s the kind of story you can tell with Daredevil. You can’t just pick up any character and say, ‘Let’s do a crime drama with this character!’ It’s not going to lend itself that way. It’s important that Matt Murdoch is an attorney. It’s important that he is driven by the demons of who his father is and the devil inside him."
Plus, there’s so much heart and a healthy dose of humor too. It’s not hard to see how Daredevil could — or, more likely, will — crossover with the big-screen heroes someday.
4. There’s Already an Avengers Connection: The show doesn’t ever try to distance itself from the MCU. It embraces the connection (just look at this shout-out to Iron Man and Thor in the trailer). The series takes place in the wake of the attack on New York from Avengers, and the plot of that movie leads directly into this show.
“We knew the Avengers were here to be able to save the universe,” Loeb says. “What the movie division does better than anybody are these awesome, epic roller coaster rides that still have very much the human spirit and just that secret sauce of levity...[But] if you went a few avenues over and a couple blocks down, there is this area of Hell’s Kitchen where there was a completely different kind of story going on.”
In the first few episodes, there’s also an Easter egg that connects the show to ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. —Carl Creel, though he only appears nominally in Daredevil — and numerous Daredevil references (make sure you listen to the names mentioned, you’ll want to Google, say, “Mr. Potter”).
5. The Punches Actually Pack a Punch: This show is VIOLENT. And that’s exactly what Marvel wanted. “We’ve said it from the beginning, it’s TV-MA,” Loeb told us.
“To push the line for the sake of pushing the line is not storytelling. It is, how do you tell the best story that you can,” he continued. “Fortunately, if you go back and look at those stories that inspired us, there is great violence in them! There’s nothing you can do about that! When you deal with someone who is as, to pick a word, monstrous as Wilson Fisk is, you can’t sugar coat what you’re going to do.”
Without spoiling anything, episode three ends with one of the grossest things we’ve ever seen on TV. Like, you can’t believe they can show it on TV gross. (Though, they probably can’t — that’s why it’s on Netflix!) It only gets more graphic in episode four. We’ll put it this way: It’s the most we’ve ever watched a TV show from between our fingers.
6. The Fight Scenes Are As Awe-Inspiring as They Are Cringe-Worthy: Again, without spoiling too much, there’s a fight scene that happens at the end of episode two that takes place in one hallway. It is one of the coolest, most intense fight sequences we’ve seen in TV or movies. (Deborah Ann Woll, who plays Murdoch’s secretary, Karen Page, said reacting to the fights required no work because they were “so real.”)
“I think what [showrunner] Steven DeKnight does really wonderfully with his writing is he acknowledges what these action sequences are going to feel like and how they’re going to be shot and what emotions they’re going to evoke,” Cox said.
“What he does between those scenes is write really long, quiet conversations between two people in a room,” he continued. “That gives a structure to the show that really emphasizes the action sequences.”
7. The Title Sequence: This is on the list more so we can say “TOLD YOU SO!” later, but the titles in Daredevil are some of the most beautiful, haunting, interesting credits we have ever seen. They perfectly match the tone of the show and are just...so beautiful. We watched the entire titles sequences every episode, we never hit fast forward.
8. The (B)Romance Is Alive: Your new favorite bromance — and we hate that word, so you know we mean it — ill be between Matt and his best friend and law partner, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson, he of The Mighty Ducks fame!).
If you’ve read any of the Daredevil comics, you probably expected that. What you might not expect is the show’s sweetest romance is between Foggy and Karen. Comic book Foggy pines for Karen as well, but it’s unrequited. Onscreen, sparks fly both ways.
“He’s a hero, just as much as Matt is,” Deborah explains of what Karen sees in Foggy. “He’s not out there throwing punches, but he cares about the people who being taken advantage of. And that’s what she cares about. I think she sees someone who, despite maybe a comical defense mechanism, who really cares deeply at heart.”
As for an eventual love triangle that may pop up with Matt? Henson concedes to Cox, “I think he’ll beat me every time.
9. The Women Are Badass: We already mentioned the soon-to-be Night Nurse, who becomes her own sort of hero as the show goes on. Will she pop up again in A.K.A. Jessica Jones or Luke Cage’s show? Who knows. But we hope so (especially because Claire and Cage dated in the comics, and double especially because we want to watch Rosario Dawson in everything).
But secretary and love interest Karen Page is a badass here too! And she’s so much more than those things! “To me, and damsel in distress [archetype] has been thrown around a lot, and to me you’re only a damsel in distress when the only reason you’re in distress is because you’re a damsel,” Deborah weighed in.
“It’s because you know the guy. Or because you’re a woman and you’re an easy target,” she continued. “That’s what makes that archetype less modern. What I like about Karen is that although she gets into trouble a lot, she knows she’s going into dangerous situations. And she’s doing it for a very strong reason.”
10. And Daredevil Will Eventually Get His Horns: How did Tony Stark get his Iron Man suit? He’s a billionaire and bought it. How did Captain America get his stars and stripes? The government. Where did Thor’s ensemble come from? Well...uh, he’s a god and that’s just how they dress, we think.
This is the first time we see a superhero discover his super suit. And Daredevil has fun with that. In an early episode, when Murdoch fights crime in a black t-shirt and mask, Claire tells him, "Your outfit sucks." To which he responds, "It's a work in progress."
As much fun as it would have been to wait and be surprised by the final suit when it arrives in the show, a leak forced Marvel’s hand and they released this look at the Daredevil suit: