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Daredevil

I was housesitting this weekend for a friend who has Netflix, so I was able to marathon the last six episodes of Daredevil Season 1.

It's a good show!

Before I go into it though, I should say that I have never read the Daredevil comics and don't know that much about the character beyond the basics of "Daredevil is blind, has super senses, and works as a lawyer by day. His enemy is named Kingpin."

[I also watched that Ben Affleck movie back when it came out and thought it sucked (made worse by the fact that I watched a bootleg theatre-recording of it, so half of the fight scenes I couldn't see because it was too damn dark.) Anyway, needless to say, the movie didn't make much of an impression. Was Elektra in it? She was - I just looked it up. Like I said, not much of an impression.]

Anyway, let's talk about the new Daredevil Netflix show:

Things I liked:

- The acting/casting is amazing. Everyone knocked it out of the park.

- I really liked Rosario Dawson's character, Claire, and I was super worried that they were going to fridge her - I'm so glad they didn't.

- That fight scene, the one-take hallway fight scene, was some of the best damn work I've ever seen on both TV and in the movies. Actually, I really don't think I've ever seen anything like it before at all. It was so amazing.

- Someone on tumblr said this, but I'm going to echo it - I like that the men can cry on the show. You never know how unrealistically stoic every other guy in the media is until you see people actually acting normal. Normal people start ugly crying when they're fighting with their best friends.... normal people start weeping when they've gone on a drinking binge because someone they loved died. I just loved it. It made the characters seem real. It made me empathize with them more.

- Someone else said, and I agree - that Daredevil is basically the story of one man's fight against gentrification. I think it's pretty awesome for that reason too.  (I thought it was Aaron Diaz who said it on twitter, but I can't find it now, so who knows.)

- Now, listen, I'm an athiest and I actually kind of distrust/dislike organized religion - but I really enjoyed the fact that Matt's catholicism was part of the framework of the story, and I liked the fact that religion is important to Matt and is a guiding force behind his actions/moral-conflict.

- Similarly, I liked how bringing down the bad guys = bringing them to justice, rather than killing them. I know there's far more satisfaction in killng them, for me anyway, but I guess it's kinda part of the reason that I enjoy Captain America too... sometimes I want my heroes to be better people than I am. (I don't mean to imply that Captain America doesn't kill people, because he obviously does, but he's better than me in other ways.)

- I love that Daredevil as a story is SO LOCALIZED. It's not about New York, it's about a TINY PART of New York. And it actually manages to take the smal scale and make it epic... a lot of superhero stories go big to make it epic. They make the fate of the whole world hang in the balance. Ultron is going to wipe out all of humanity, Loki is going to subjugate all of humanity, Hydra is going to kill millions of people all over the world, etc... Daredevil is just like "Hey, stop kicking people out of their crappy apartments over on 53th St., or I'm going to fuck you up!" It's awesome! I mean, I realize they set up a lot of stuff that might make it bigger later - Stick and his "war" and such, but we'll cross that bridge if/when we come to it.

- Languages... I loved that they had people speaking their native-tongues. I loved that they didn't make everyone speak accented english, like that was the only option. I also loved how they didn't always translate it... basically, they'd only translate it when it was clear that everyone in the scene understood the language and no one needed it translated through another character. If there was another character translating, then they translated for the audience as well, and we didn't get to know what was truly said.

What I didn't like:

- This is more a personal prefence thing.... but I don't care about villains. I recognize that they did a beautiful job setting up the parallels between Matt and Fisk, about how they both claimed to be trying to save Hell's Kitchen - one through preservation and one through gentrification. And it WAS well done and it WAS a cool parallel. I'm not denying that.... I'm just saying that I sat through all of Fisk's storylines with my editing fingers itching to remove them, to give myself only the hero's story - to NOT KNOW MORE THAN THE HERO DID. It's a preference on my part, I figure, for mystery....

I'm reading a series of books right now, written for young adults, called Alpha Force, and they're really great fun books - basically classic Mission Impossible but with teenagers. Anyway, there's always a chapter where everything goes right and then a chapter where everything goes wrong, and then the rest of the chapters are them trying to fix the situation or escape it or what have you. At the end of the chapter where everything goes right though, there's always a sentence along the lines of "If they had known what was to come, they would have made a different decision" - and I hate that f*cking sentence. I don't want to know! I want to be just as shocked as the heroes are when everything goes to shit in the next chapter. I don't want to be anticipating it beyond knowing that things need to go to shit for there to be a story for the rest fo the book.

So, yeah, as much as Vincent D'onofrio is a good actor and did a great job. I didn't care about Wilson Fisk/Kingpin and I didn't want to know about his dating troubles or his backstory. ("cool motive, still murder.")

That being said, if I DID re-edit the show - I would be sad to lose that last Fisk/Wesley scene, because it was pretty gorgeous and heartbreaking.

- The violence was, at times, too brutal for me, especially when Fisk kills the Russian.... I couldn't watch the show for a couple more days after that.



To Sum Up: Good show! But brutal. And, due solely to a personality-quirk of mine, if I were to rewatch it - it would be an edited version.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
claudiapriscus
May. 4th, 2015 01:44 am (UTC)
"If they had known, they'd have never done x" is my least favorite thing ever. What a cheap way to create dread. And it takes me out of the story.

I'd have also shifted the focus from Fisk. In a way, this almost felt like the showrunners wanted to do something like...oh, Breaking Bad or the Sopranos or something. They did a really fine job of doing a show called "Kingpin", but I think in doing so, they left the actual title character a cypher. It also made the show draaaag in some ways- I found myself kind of wishing for a case of the week format. For several reasons, but one of which was that we got to see the villain do something, and then we saw Matt figure it out, and then we saw Foggy and Karen figure out some variation of it. (That's one reason I kind of feel that Hawkeye sort of hit the brakes with Grills' murder. We saw the same darn thing like what, five times? With added details, sure, but especially with the delay between issues, it felt like the story was told in molassas).

So agree with you on the violence. Especially early on. Urgh. That car door thing. I hate that kind of grim&gritty LOOK AT HOW FAR WE CAN TAKE THIS violence, though I recognize I may just be a bit more squeamish than other people. I also was really discomfited by the "good" (and effective!) torture that Matt did. I've really become less tolerant of all the stories that treat torture as justifiable (not to mention effective) and it seemed so *pointless*, especially for that character and his skill sets (talents AND powers). I mean, it's like having an Iron Movie in which, in a room full of machinery and computers, Tony solves problems by digging his way out with his bare hands.
hells_half_acre
May. 4th, 2015 02:22 am (UTC)
Agreed agreed. Ten thousand agreements.

That's the thing, I think there are two types of stories you can tell - the one where you know everything, and the anticipation is "how is the hero going to figure this out?" and then there's the one where you're like "what is happening? Let's figure it out with the hero..."

And the problem with the former is that very quickly it can go from "how is the hero going to figure this out?" to "WHEN is the hero going to figure this out..." because, as you say, the story drags.

And you're right, it very much became "Kingpin" for quite a few episodes, when what I really wanted were episodes like Nelson v. Murdock. The interesting stuff wasn't what Fisk was doing, his storyline was summed up very nicely in the first episode we see him (or in that conversation he has with Matt in World On Fire) - after that, it was just reiterating more of the same and watching his world collapse with very little involvement from Matt. I mean really, it was the other baddies turning on him more than Matt's involvement (even though Matt may have been the catalyst.)

The stuff that interested me was Matt's storyline, how he works, his powers, his relationships, his moral conflict. It was way more interesting than Fisk, who pretty much stayed the exact same throughout and didn't have any crises of conscience or anything.

And yeah, again, totally agreement about the torture scenes. Why resort to torture (which is proven to be ineffective IRL) when you have Matt's skill set?

Off topic - but something I forgot to mention above - the other thing that annoyed me was how fast Vanessa went from "I'm a little creeped out by you and a bit scared" to "they'll never take you from me! Let's get married even though you're distant, have a temper, are seemingly okay with killing people, and I nearly got poisoned to death just because I'm your girlfriend." I know weeks went by that we didn't necessarily see, but really... anyone with half a brain would have been out of there quicker than quicksilver the minute things started going hinky.
claudiapriscus
May. 4th, 2015 03:03 am (UTC)
I did find Vanessa interesting- I kind of thought she always had a sort of hidden edge to her, I never really got the creeped out vibe, necessarily- something, but not exactly. Like we were supposed to think that at first, but that was a trick of the storytelling (or rather, Fisks' interpretation of things), not an accurate representation of her character. It kind of felt like she knew what he was, that she was interested in the powerful mob boss, not the respectable businessman he tried to conjure up. Like...she was attracted to the dangerous parts of him, and was impatient with the the facade? But yeah, the ending was fast. "Let's get married and I'll totally arrange a bloody breakout for you with mercenaries."

SO agree about Fisk's journey. I hadn't thought of it that way before, but you're totally right. Matt's story wwas the more interesting one, but it was so lightly touched on, relatively speaking.

Also,WHY WAS HE DOING ALL THE STUFF? They hardly answered that question. They gave a reason, but I never felt like I could understand why Matt, the budding lawyer, decided that breaking kneecaps at night in a costume was the way to go. Now, if Matt had been Dean Winchester? No problem- it's right there in Dean's figurative DNA- the hero complex, the low sense of his own worth outside of being a weapon, his hunter upbringing. The first thing a MCU-AU Dean Winchester does with super powers is save lives. But I just never felt we had that... peek into the inner life of Matt that made his actions seem a natural extension of his character. Now, I can see what they were trying to do, it was a storytelling choice so they could reveal it bit by bit and parallel Fisk, but it just wasn't as effective, I feel.

I also...I know I'm kind of an outlier on this one, but I thought the parallels between Fisk and Matt were a bit forced. Like, yes, they both are fighting for the soul of a small bit of New York, but other than the "Maybe Matt really just likes beating the crap out of people!" - which still seemed like a bit of a stretch to me, since he remained enough of a cypher that neither argument seemed certain- what was there, except in the broadest lines?

I guess this might sound negative, and I certainly don't mean it to be so, there were just writing decisions that still puzzle me.
hells_half_acre
May. 4th, 2015 03:17 am (UTC)
Yeah, even when I wrote "creeped out" I knew it wasn't accurate, but I wasn't sure how else to describe her initial trepidation. I think that Vanessa COULD have been interesting. Did she have an edge to her? Was she turned on by the power more than the man? Does she have a bloodlust herself? All these questions would have been good to have answered on the show - and would have also made for more interesting villain stories, in my opinion, than just concentrating on Fisk.

I think Matt did kind of explain why he does the stuff. But, like everything to do with Matt, it was perhaps too lightly touched on. But, he explains to both Foggy and the Priest that he started breaking kneecaps at night because he had a breaking point in how long he could be a bystander. If he hears all the evil that's going on, but doesn't make any sort of move to stop it, does that not make him complicit? He also explained to Foggy that he first tried acting through the law, but realized that there were instances where the law could do nothing, but one man in a mask could help.

So, it's not so much a hero complex, or a hunter upbringing, it's his super senses giving him information that he can't ignore without feeling like an asshole bystander.

I think some of the parallels between Fisk and Matt were a bit forced - especially since really, some of the things were... not at all the same, if you thought about them for two minutes. Which was probably why the Fisk stuff grated on me more and more the longer it went on. I really think what they were doing peaked at the radio conversation between the two, and after that, they should have concentrated solely on Matt, because it was Matt that was the more interesting character thereafter, and they'd already set up all the other players well enough.

I don't mean any of this to sound negative either of course. We're just having a conversation about what we liked least, rather than a conversation about all the stuff we absolutely loved... of which there was a bunch, or else we wouldn't have watched the show to the end.
claudiapriscus
May. 4th, 2015 03:47 am (UTC)
Oh, no, I mean, I understood the story about the breaking point, but I guess....I didn't feel it was effectively communicated why he went the extreme violence route, rather than something more lawyer-y. Especially considering the torturing and the near-murdering. As a lawyer, I'd think he'd be a lot less casual about "oh, I guess I haven't crossed the line because I haven't actually killed anyone, although I've certainly done enough injury and been careless enough that the fact that they survived was not guaranteed." I mean, jesus, when he tossed that guy off the building, dumpster or no, and the guy was in a coma?! And then he was like "I haven't gone all murdery?" What's the difference, Matt? Which might have been an interesting question to examine, but I don't think that was what we were supposed to be taking away.

There are superheroes who DO go the extreme violence route as their go-to solution to things (like the Punisher, it's right there in the name), but I just had trouble connecting the lines for Matt. Especially given his character. He's....oriented towards the law, towards order. he's smart, and a bit fond of his own cleverness. I've been watching Leverage recently, and I kind of feel that might have been a better fit for what I was expecting. Not the con job part, but the...oh, the bad guy is someone rich and powerful, and they system has failed, so there's matt, doing the breaking in, fighting off guards, finding the key piece of evidence and making it very public. (Which is essentially what he does to actually win! So clearly that dynamic is there). Not so much just beating a man half to death. I just couldn't connect to the two dots.

To a certain extent, I guess maybe I might say the conflict was between the representation of Matt, who has a fair amount in common with the 616 version in terms of characterization and the representation of Daredevil, which was much more Nolan Batman.

Edited at 2015-05-04 03:48 am (UTC)
hells_half_acre
May. 4th, 2015 04:03 am (UTC)
Ugh, I don't like Batman... so my initial reaction is to be super defensive about that, but I can see what you mean - just in terms of tone, it's similar to Nolan, I suppose. But yeah, I liked Daredevil, but I really don't enjoy the Batman movies, so similar or not, whatever they're doing differently is different enough for me.

Anyway, ah! I understand what you meant now by "doing all the stuff" - and yeah, you're right, it doesn't make sense. Especially the idea that Matt hasn't killed anyone, because he totally has - unless he has some how convinced himself that Nobu lit himself on fire and burned to death all on his own without any help from Matt.

And when he threw that dude off the building, he had to PAUSE to check that he was a live - which to me, in that scene, read like he really didn't care. Likewise, when he's helping Stick, he knocks one of Nobu's men in the head (smack in the temple) causing him to fall into the water... now, I've never personally been hit in the temple by something going at a great speed, but my sister has, and there is absolutely no way she would have survived if someone had immediately thrown her into a river. She couldn't even stand. So, Matt must have this weird line in his head that is all about intent - like, people dying of the wounds he inflicts is fine, just so long as Matt didn't set out that night specifically to murder them.

And yeah, it would have been good for that to be explored a little more. But, I was willing to overlook it, because I liked the whole conflict with whether his end game should be murder or the law... mainly, I guess, because it was a conflict about which identity was the stronger of the two - the Devil or Matt. And I liked exploring that, even if I had to overlook the fact that obviously the Devil wins in terms of "accidental" manslaughter or second degree murder or whatever the heck the law calls it when you assault someone and they happen to die, but you didn't necessarily want them to.
claudiapriscus
May. 4th, 2015 04:34 am (UTC)
When they do a second season, a lot of this might get cleared up. It was just something I couldn't quite reconcile- what I understood about Matt's character and motivation, and the way he acted as "the man in the mask". I think they were trying to do a story with him wrestling with the darkness that rules Fisk, but I just really had trouble seeing that particular darkness in him (outside of him trying to beat people to death). I felt kind of like Foggy in that respect! Does not compute! Is it all a lie?
hells_half_acre
May. 4th, 2015 04:50 am (UTC)
Agreed. And yeah, I'm sure they'll dive more into it in S2.
franztastisch
May. 4th, 2015 07:47 am (UTC)
SO MUCH YES TO THAT ONE SHOT HALLWAY FIGHT SCENE. I mean, I would have loved it for the simple reason that the hallway was too narrow for the door to fall completely flat to the ground, but then it was lit so beautifully and bad guys got up again because they hadn't been knocked out the first time and oh God, it was just wonderful. And also YES to men crying. I also loved that because it was so realistic. And the use of other languages. AND CLAIR OH MY I LOVE CLAIR. (I was never worried about her being fridged actually. I was worried about Ben - and didn't he have a great face? - and (SPOILER) turns out I was right to)

However, unlike you I liked - or maybe thats the wrong word - the humanization of Wilson Fisk, mainly because it is very unsettling to be reminded that the bad guys have motivations and things they love and are scared of losing. Because it makes you acknowledge that they are people too.

And loosely related. Last night I watched the Theory of Everything and Charlie Cox was in it and I found it very strange. :P
hells_half_acre
May. 4th, 2015 08:04 am (UTC)
Yes! The other thing I loved about the hallway fight was that Matt was just so DONE. I mean, he had already been stabbed earlier that night - and man... so good. I think my favourite bit was when he did the full back roll off the wall in order to get vertical enough to punch a dude.

I was never worried about her being fridged actually. I was worried about Ben - and didn't he have a great face? - and (SPOILER) turns out I was right to

I was actually spoiled for that going in. So, I knew not to get too attached. It was agony watching though, because starting somewhere between the 5th and 8th episodes they started to do a tone of those camera angles where you know that you can't see all of the room/alley/street that he is in and that anyone could be sneaking up behind him, or take him out from a building, or whatever... like, I just spent episodes and episodes anticipating his death, thinking in nearly every scene of his "oh god, is this when it happens?!"

However, unlike you I liked - or maybe thats the wrong word - the humanization of Wilson Fisk, mainly because it is very unsettling to be reminded that the bad guys have motivations and things they love and are scared of losing. Because it makes you acknowledge that they are people too.

I liked it to an extent, I just think there was too much of it, or it could have been done in a different way.

But, yeah, I mean, that last Fisk/Wesley scene, when he kisses him on the forehead just killed me, and I'd certainly not want to lose a scene like that just because I don't like following villain stories. So, I'm not saying through the baby out with the bathwater... I'm just saying, sometimes less is more.

And loosely related. Last night I watched the Theory of Everything and Charlie Cox was in it and I found it very strange. :P

Tumblr reminded me the other day that it was Charlie Cox who played the lead in Stardust, and that was a very strange thing to not have remembered at all, even though I own that movie and quite enjoy it.
franztastisch
May. 4th, 2015 04:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah. There was an accuracy with that kind of thing that I really enjoyed. He couldn't just brush off injury as easily as people sometimes can in TV/film.

Aaah I watched the whole thing over three days. :P I didn't really have time to be spoilered. Plus I'd moved off tumblr to avoid AoU wank so had no way of getting spoilered either. But yeah, those shots you mentioned... I was watching going no no no no no not Ben I love his face. :(

Fisk/Wesley was the one thing that my brain immediately went there will be fanifc about them, because some of their conversations; Jesus. I could picture them in all those really fucked up mobster fics. But on a serious note, yes, that scene was wonderful; because of the genuine affection and remorse. The way they built Fisk up, you get the impression that he's someone with a lot of love to give and no fucking clue how to express it positively. He's lucky to have found a woman who's as weirdly fucked up as he is, really...

Haha yeah, that was the first thing I realised when I saw the casting. I was amused, to say the least. :P
hells_half_acre
May. 4th, 2015 04:55 pm (UTC)
I should have moved off tumblr, the AoU wank and now the AoU spoilers are kinda driving me crazy - but tumblr is just so much of my computer routine now. Also, I think I've basically come to a point where I don't actually care too much about spoilers anyway. And I only have to wait until Thursday, when I see the film, and then it will just be about ignoring the wank - which I'm fairly good at.
franztastisch
May. 4th, 2015 08:22 pm (UTC)
I logged out. It did wonders. And surprisingly I don't miss it all that much. I logged in again yesterday, but only so I could like a bunch of things I had collected over the couple of weeks I was offline. *shrugs* I missed the fanart and some of the dumb shit, but I didn't miss much else.
hells_half_acre
May. 5th, 2015 02:17 am (UTC)
Yeah... I should probably log out as well. There are a couple people on there and things that I honestly do enjoy though and aren't a time-suck or annoying... but then, if I unfollow people who aren't 100% quality, then I'll probably end up offending people.

What I should REALLY do is limit my time on it. I like to scroll through tumblr while I'm eating breakfast, and that's fine, but probably I shouldn't stay on there for the hour after breakfast too... and the hour after lunch... and the hours before bed when I really should be sleeping and I just don't want to admit it. :P

It'd probably make my life better if I was a little less nonsense-internet addicted.
franztastisch
May. 5th, 2015 01:25 pm (UTC)
Oh God yeah, that was the other reason I logged out. I was on it so much it was ridiculous. Going cold turkey for a while helps with that. :P
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