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Daredevil – Daredevil (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.

In a way, the biggest problem with origin stories is that you know where they have to end up.

It is easy enough to predict the ending of the first season of Daredevil. Matt Murdock is the costumed superhero who dresses up as a devil to fight crime in Hell’s Kitchen. He practices law with his best friend at “Nelson and Murdock.” Wilson Fisk has embraced his identity as a supercriminal in his own right. His plans to redevelop Hell’s Kitchen are soundly defeated. Evidence is put in the hands of the authorities, allowing our heroes to be exonerated and our villains to be identified.

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It is a very clear arc, because it has to end somewhere close to where every Daredevil story begins. Indeed, even the title of the episode alludes to that. This is the point at which Matt Murdock ceases to be “the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen” or “the Man in the Mask.” This is the point at which he formally adopts the name “Daredevil.” This is the point at which he puts on a live action version of his iconic costume. This is the point at which the show stops being a Daredevil origin story and becomes just a Daredevil story.

So it makes sense that Daredevil feels a little bit anticlimactic and a little bit overly familiar. The episode doesn’t fight the pull of gravity that draws it towards the inevitable status quo. Despite the shock at the end of The Ones We Leave Behind, the season finalé offers no real shock or twist or subversion. It is exactly what it claims to be. It is functional, efficient and clean. It is not a bad ending by any means. In fact, it is quite satisfying. At the same time, it does feel just a little too tidy and neat for its own good.

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Daredevil – Shadows in the Glass (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.

Much like Stick, Shadows in the Glass emphasises the relatively episodic nature of Daredevil.

If Stick was “the mystical ninja tie-in episode”, then Shadows in the Glass is the obligatory “villain episode.” This is evident in the choice to open with a teaser dedicated to the morning routine of Wilson Fisk. It is a nice structural choice to repeat the sequence two more times, once at the midpoint and once towards the end. The second iteration of the sequence plays much the same as the first, but the third version plays out with both Wilson Fisk and Vanessa Marianna, suggesting that Fisk is no longer as alone as he claimed to be in Rabbit in a Snowstorm.

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Daredevil is a show that really does take advantage of its format to flesh out and develop the world of Matthew Murdock. It would have been easy to structure Daredevil as a simply thirteen-hour origin story with a reasonably high budget. However, the show capitalises on the extra space afforded to a thirteen-episode season. None of the Marvel films could afford to devote fifty minutes of character development to the antagonist, and even Loki has never been given as much narrative attention as Fisk. (Only Michael Fassbender’s Magneto can compete with Vincent D’Onofrio’s Fisk.)

Shadows in the Glass provides Wilson Fisk with a supervillain origin story very clearly designed to mirror that of Matt Murdock.

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