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Daredevil – Into the Ring (Review)

To celebrate the launch of Marvel’s Daredevil and the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, we are reviewing all thirteen episodes of the first season of Marvel and Netflix’s Daredevil. Check back daily for the latest review.

Daredevil is an ambitious piece of work.

It represents an astonishing commitment from both Marvel and Netflix to realise a thirteen-episode run on a superhero character that will be produced and released in one big chunk. One of the unsung features of Netflix’s “full season” model is the fact that there is minimal room for course correction or reevaluation; there is no time for audience feedback or retooling. The model is all or nothing. Before the first episode has been released to the public, the last episode has already been cut and gone through post-production.

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That is an impressive gamble, even in this day and age when Marvel has demonstrated that it can pull off almost anything that it wants to accomplish. Daredevil is part of the tapestry of interconnected continuity that forms the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a single unfolding narrative space that dates back to Jon Favreau’s Iron Man back in 2008. In the seven years once, one of the resounding (and effective) criticisms of Marvel’s creative model has been the sense that their projects are drowned in a “house style”, as if the individual works feel obligated to fit together.

These criticisms date back to the sense that Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2 was smothered by its obligations to a shared universe, and was only fuelled by the high-profile departure of respected film-makers like Edgar Wright and Patty Jenkins from Marvel projects, citing a irreconcilable differences. To be fair, recent efforts like Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy have helped to add a great deal of diversity to the tapestry of the shared Marvel universe.

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Into the Ring works hard to establish a clear and distinct mood for its own hero. Released on Netflix, it is not bound by the same set of constraints that hem in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Peggy Carter. The brutality on display in the teaser and at the climax is utterly unlike anything else produced under the banner of this shared universe; the montage at the end of the episode makes it clear that Matt Murdock exists in very different corner of the same universe. Child abductions and drug rings and white collar crime aren’t quite covered by Tony Stark or Steve Rogers.

Although there are a few bumps along the way, Into the Ring does a good job at setting the tone for what is to come.

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