Coming hot on the heels of the releases that were House of Cards Season 3, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Bloodline, Netflix’s latest original, Daredevil, gets off to an incredibly strong start in the first episode, offering a very different tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe from what we’ve seen in well, pretty much everything else. The majority of the other entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe all have a lighter feel in tone, with this almost feeling closer to Batman Begins than the rest of the MCU. But despite that however, based on the strength of the first episode, we could very well be looking at its finest addition yet, with an incredibly atmospheric start to the show.
Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is the blind, crime-fighting lawyer that comics fans will no doubt be familiar with. Out of all of the characters planned for Netflix’s series, Matt’s received the most exposure, in large part due to the complete and total failure of the Ben Affleck movie that often sees it ranking low on many of people’s worst comic book movies of all time. Thankfully, Marvel’s Daredevil, as it’s officially known because Marvel wants their name slapped onto everything (Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Marvel’s Agent Carter), is far superior, as it really does justice to someone who’s probably my favourite Marvel Superhero. It’s great to see him brought to life in Hell’s Kitchen, which is still being rebuilt from the aftermath of the destruction of New York in Avengers (which is pretty much the only reference that you’ll get to the wider MCU at this early stage), and the way the show is executed is great to see.
Into the Ring is dark, gritty, and off to a very confident start. Executive produced by Drew Goddard (along with Steven S. DeKnight), who worked with Joss Whedon previously on the 2012 horror movie Cabin in the Woods, as well as a staff writer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Goddard knows what he’s doing and it’s great to see. We open with the immediate aftermath of the scene that made Matt Murdock blind as a young child, and from there we’re in the present day with the future Daredevil talking to a Priest in a Church, confessing his sins for what he’s about to do. Then we cut to him beating up some bad guys. It’s a dark, moody start that really sets the tone for the season to follow (I’ve seen two episodes so far, due to Netflix’s ability to make all thirteen available at once), with the majority of the action sequences taking place in the dark.
And they are great action sequences. Matt himself is only a man, and despite his fighting skills being better than most, he’s not invincible like Captain America or Thor. He can be beaten, which is something that the second episode will remind you of. (Look out for a review on the second episode soon!). For those expecting him to adopt the red suit straight from the get go, you’ll be disappointed. However, judging from the photo reveal, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it before the end of the season. Also, the name “Daredevil” hasn’t been uttered yet, but then again, Matt’s new. And the vigilante approach is not the only thing that he’s new at.
The episode itself also works when it switches the focus to the lawyer angle, with Matt and his friend Foggy Nelson (played by Elden Henson) opening up a law firm and taking on their first client, Karen (Deborah Ann Woll), who has just woken up next to a dead man covered in blood, and the knife held in her hand. She believes she’s innocent. The Karen/Matt/Foggy dynamic is really handled well, with the focus primarily on Matt and Foggy in the first episode. All three actors, Cox, Henson and Woll, have some great interactions here and it’s going to be really interesting watching them going forward. Cox and Henson are the main focus, but there’s going to be more with Woll down the line, and it’s good to see that the chemistry, particularly between Cox and Henson, is excellent, with both actors playing off each other very well.
So far, everything seems to work. Into the Ring is a very solid start to Marvel’s Daredevil as it really helps make it standout in a very crowded Universe. If the quality of this episode can be kept throughout the series, then we might well be looking at one of the best shows of 2015, and even at this early stage, it looks like Marvel is in safe hands with Netflix. Now I’m really looking forward to see how they handle AKA Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and the rest of the superhero shows that they have in store, because as it stands, the only superhero show with a better pilot than this might be The Flash, but it’s a very close call.