The second series of Netflix’s superhero drama arrives tomorrow and Hannah Dunleavy is excited. I know, she can’t believe it either.
I saw the overflowing bucket of charm that is Charlie Cox say in an interview that he’d consider Daredevil a success not when people said it was a good superhero series but when they said it was good despite being a superhero series.
I’d like to oblige by saying exactly that.
I’m in the demographic that traditionally shuns superhero stuff. There’s no need to bombard me with reasons I’m wrong – my nephew has that covered. I’m sure some of them are excellent; they’re just not for me.
But somewhere into the second episode of Daredevil, a strange feeling crept over me and it took me a while to realise that it was this: Holy shit, I’m enjoying it.
“I reckon Matt Murdock could plug a lead into the telly without having to move it, which would be superpower enough for me to be honest.”
So what is it about the series that works? Firstly, it starts refreshingly low-fi. Matt Murdock – a lawyer who’s ostensibly blind – is not in possession of any whizzy gadgets and his early costume has all the style and, to be honest, appearance, of something thrown together by Little Edie Bouvier.
He obviously has abilities, albeit ones not commonly, possibly ever, cited in response to the question: “If you could have a superpower, what would it be?” No one wants to be able to hear a chain swinging from three blocks away if they could fly. Although I reckon Murdock could plug a lead into the telly without having to move it, which would be superpower enough for me to be honest.
Daredevil‘s MO is essentially a whole lot of good old-fashioned punching. Which means he gets his arse kicked a lot. And by a lot, I mean, a lot a lot. In fact, his default look is very much pummelled meat.
Because Daredevil is violent. Horribly so. In close quarters. Which is exactly what violence is. And as such, I applaud it for that. Yes, there’s a man on fire in the corner of the room, but that is surely nothing compared to the dozens, even hundreds, who presumably die off-screen during Avengers Assemble.
It’s extraordinarily choreographed too. When True Detective threw down the single-take gauntlet in 2014, Daredevil picked it up and ran with it, creating a batshit fight in a corridor, starring a bunch of henchmen, Cox and an interchangeable stuntman, both of whom have their eyes covered up. And a flying microwave. For the win.
The second key to the series’ success is Cox himself, who I’m pretty sure was cast off the back of that extraordinary and horribly drawn-out murder in the men’s room in Boardwalk Empire.
While his exertions as Daredevil deserve credit, it’s the other stuff that make it a worthwhile investment of your time. Murdock is, to the best of everyone’s knowledge, blind, and there seems to be as much effort to make this as right as the rest of the action.
Cox has also some excellent chemistry, with his colleagues Foggy and Karen (Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll), who largely bring the comedy of the series, and with his friend/love interest/patcher-upper Claire (Rosario Dawson). Compared to some of the flaccid dullness that passes for on-screen chemistry these days, the pair are positively buzzing.
Series one had a worthwhile supporting cast too. Anything that gives Vondie Curtis-Hall screentime is worth a look – but if that doesn’t convince you, there’s Vincent D’Onofrio having an absolute ball in the ‘baddie’ corner and Scott Glenn, who with this and The Leftovers, is enjoying the late-stage career bump he clearly deserves.
The new series promises the arrival of John Bernthal, the only enjoyable thing about series two of The Walking Dead, and some superhero high jinks. I’m excited. I can’t believe I just typed that.2011 Views
Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.