Monday, December 21, 2015

13 Reasons to Watch Marvel's Daredevil

Over the course of the past few months, Sky and Jaime have recapped Marvel's first Netflix show: Daredevil. With season two on the horizon (very far away on the horizon) and the newly released Jessica Jones picking up viewers, we've decided to explain why you should be watching Marvel's Daredevil. (Seriously, you haven't seen it yet?) Here are thirteen reasons why you should watch the show about the Man Without Fear.

1. “What do you see?” “A world on fire.” (Cinematography)

Sky: The cinematography on this show is seriously stunning. Everything is shot in a very purposeful and intentional way, and every shot evokes emotion from the viewer. It fits the gritty tone of the show but still manages to show bits of beauty through the darkness.

Jaime: One of my favorite aspects of the show is the cinematography. There are moments, perfect shots, of the events in stunning visuals. I didn’t know a show could be so beautiful. I didn’t know a fight scene or a bloody beating could be so poignant. From panoramas to close-ups, this show is filled with interesting shots I've never experienced watching before except perhaps in Sherlock. I never thought I’d be the person to notice such techniques, but here I am.

2. “This is my city. My family!” (Opening sequence)

Sky: For once, Daredevil managed to make a title sequence that I don’t want to skip. In fact, I watch it every time, and it blows me away just as much every time I see it. Red paint pours over everything--a city, statues, scales to signify justice… and finally, a devil with horns. It captures the deep nature of the show so vividly that I don’t even know how to convey its awesomeness… other than that you should go watch it!

Jaime: I agree with Sky--this is one opening sequence I never skip. The music paired with the slow visuals of paint dripping over the symbolic images of the show gives me this surge of feeling; this response to do something. There doesn’t seem to be a lot to it, but it’s still magnificent. Plus, everything is significantly red making me wonder if it’s paint or very thin blood.

3. “Nelson and Murdock, avocados at law!” (Beautiful friendship)

Sky: If you need to find me, I’m probably crying about Matt and Foggy in a dark corner somewhere. You will most likely discover me rocking back and forth, mumbling something about “avocados at law” and “how many fingers am I holding up?” Foggy and Matt have raised my standard for bromance so high. Every bromance I ship must now have laughter, angst, and a cool fruit ship name. (Yes, avocados are technically a fruit.)

Jaime: The thing I love about Matt and Foggy is their friendship. They met in college and immediately became the best of friends. Even when they fight, they find a way to reconcile with one another. They know each other so well, scenes with them together are just so heartwarming (and hilarious). I thought Steve and Bucky twisted my heart into knots; Foggy and Matt just shred my heart to pieces. I can’t even think about avocados the same way anymore (if there was ever a time when I thought about them). Their relationship isn’t perfect but that helps them feel more human and realistic.

4. “Lawyer by day, vigilante by night…How does that work?” (Good blend of genres)

Sky: Is Daredevil a thriller? Is Daredevil a superhero show? Is Daredevil a law procedural? No one knows. Actually, it’s all of these things. It’s also a show that will give you all the feels. Seriously, though. Daredevil is such a cool mishmash of genres. It’s a well-crafted show that will keep you on your toes (and throw a few surprises your way).

Jaime: I love that throughout the Marvel experience we get various types of movies and shows under the genre of “superhero, action/adventure film.” We’ve got fantasy/mythology, a heist film, a space opera, a political conspiracy, a war film, a science experiment gone wrong, and more. Daredevil brings in another genre: law procedural. But it doesn’t stay in the court room or the interrogation room. It goes outside to the streets, to the rooftops, to the back alleys. There’s action with fists and feet flying and guns blazing, but there are also court trials, research in an office, and investigations. It’s a blend of different things to create another Marvel genre labeled “superhero” but with different aspects.

5. “A woman that can be bought isn’t worth having.” (Female characters)

Sky: Guys, Karen Page and Claire Temple are the Marvel heroines we never knew we needed. They are strong but also vulnerable. They make mistakes, but they also make some really good choices. They’re both very different from each other, but they’re each well-written, well-developed characters. They have flaws, and they have virtues. They have their good moments and their bad ones… just like any of us. Daredevil made female characters that are fully human. It’s about time.

Jaime: If you’re searching for strong, independent ladies, look no further than Daredevil. Both Karen and Claire hold their own. Yes, they might still need help from the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, but neither allows a bunch of bullies to keep them from doing something about the city. I respect Karen’s resilience to keep going throughout the show, despite the setbacks and the craziness that follows her. Her last few choices of action have earned her the title of “badass.” Claire faces different challenges and has a different personality than Karen, but she also manages to be strong in the face of the danger and the crazy. She’s smart, she has her own beliefs, and she knows what she’s doing. I’ve even enjoyed the intrigue of Vanessa. I’m curious about her character, what she’ll become, what she sees in Fisk. But she’s proven to be strong and well-developed as well. And Marci has become a favorite of mine as well.

6. “You don’t get to be the man on top without having enemies looking to tear you down.” (Villains)

Sky: When I find myself loving a villain (something that rarely happens), this is how I know a show has done something right. Throughout Daredevil, I found myself liking and sympathizing with Madame Gao, James Wesley, and even Wilson Fisk himself. There’s a whole episode where we learn Fisk’s backstory, which changes the game completely--we see Fisk as a misguided man, but he is a man nonetheless. Just like the female characters, the villains in this show are fully human--not one-dimensional. They have their good moments… and they have their bad. (Mostly their bad, but they’re the villains. What can you do?)

Jaime: Daredevil does an excellent job of setting up adversaries for our Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Whether it’s a member of Yakuza or one of the Russians, each enemy is memorable for their own stories and how they interact with the Man with the Mask. I’ve learned to sympathize characters who do horrible deeds. I don’t think they deserve any pity or excuses for their behavior, but for some, I can see the progression of their ill intent. And it’s fascinating. I don’t hate the villains of Daredevil. Instead, I find myself intrigued by them as much as I am by Matt. I’ve been told even villains are heroes of their own stories, and Daredevil proves it by giving us just enough of the villains to let us know they’re human too.

7. “Be careful of the Murdock boys; they’ve got the devil in them.” (Matt Murdock)

Sky: Oh, Matt. My darling child. Precious cinnamon roll. Matt is the heart of this show, as is his talented actor, Charlie Cox. From a very young age, Matt has known the meaning of pain. So what does he do? He decides to help save as many people from pain as he can. He wants to make his city a better place, even if it costs him everything. Matt lays himself on the line so many times for Hell’s Kitchen, bleeding and bruised. He loses people close to him. In trying to take away the pain from Hell’s Kitchen, Matt ends up carrying a lot of it on himself. He’s a hero in every sense of the word, and I will probably never stop crying about him.

Jaime: I’ve felt connected to many characters over the years for one reason or another, but when it comes to Matt Murdock, I think I’ve found a match for my own character. While I’ve never gone through his pain or sorrow, I relate to his struggles, to his grip on justice, to the war ripping through him. He feels so real in how he’s portrayed in the show. His struggle is revealed at every turn of the show, every scene he is in. Matt Murdock is a wonder. I’ve seen the old Daredevil movie and never felt a connection. This show brings the Man Without Fear into a deeper level than before. His faith, his sense of justice, his craving to punch someone....everything is laid out before us, and we get to see him come to terms with this path he’s on. I easily latched on to his character, and I’m not going to let go.

8. “Franklin Nelson for the defense.” (Foggy Nelson)

Sky: Foggy Bear! I love Foggy so much. I would have to argue that Matt, as well as the show itself, wouldn’t be the same without our lovable Foggy Nelson. He’s kind, sweet, compassionate, funny… and he grounds Matt. Even though Foggy is technically in the role of “sidekick,” Foggy has his own plot line on the show as well. He doesn’t wait around for Matt; in fact, he goes solo for a few episodes. He has thoughts, feelings, an ex-girlfriend… Foggy is the hero of his own story and his own life. We just happen to be seeing Foggy’s story through the lens of Matt Murdock. No matter what, Foggy Nelson is one of my favorite fictional characters. He’s hilarious, adorable, and a good man. I love Foggy.

Jaime: Foggy Nelson has often been portrayed as the comic relief in the comics, providing contrast to Matt's grim and serious nature. However, I think Daredevil gives Foggy more room to be his own character or, as Sky said, his own hero. Yes, most of the times I've laughed while watching this show are because of Foggy Bear. But he's still his own person: he's smart, he's strong, and he's a little goofy. But he has heart. He stands for truth and justice as much as Matt does, but he does so in the light of day, in legal situations. He helps save the day as many times as Matt does, he just walks a different path.

9. “You can hear a heartbeat from across the room?” (Music)

Sky: The music is enchanting and, along with the cinematography, gives the show its own specific flavor and atmosphere. Even after I finished watching an episode, the theme music would run through my head. It’s so beautiful and fitting for what Daredevil is about.

Jaime: Daredevil wouldn't be the same show without the music. Just like with cinematography, I never expected to be the person to notice the background music. But without it, the show would be completely different. From the fast paced, action-oriented fragments (which remind me of the music in Captain America: The Winter Soldier) to the opera-like compositions, Daredevil is chock-full of various music that works together to capture the story line, the characters, and the visuals being broadcasted.

10. “I'm not trying to be a hero. I'm just a guy that got fed up with men like you and I decided to do something about it.” (Story line)

Sky: In thirteen episodes, Daredevil packs so much intrigue and plot twists. Not only that, but it’s filled with character development and symbolism (more on that later). Though it had thirteen episodes, Daredevil established an environment that we can understand, a plot line that’s extremely multi-faceted, and characters we can relate to. The stakes are so high for Matt Murdock--just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does. This makes for a good story and an amazing (if a bit harrowing) viewing experience.

Jaime: After watching through Daredevil multiple times, I can hardly believe there are only thirteen episodes. When I started it for the third time to drag someone else into Hell's Kitchen, I realized how far this show reaches, how much changes in the span of thirteen hours of footage. The story line is brilliant. It encompasses a dozen characters, each with their own agenda and purpose. Multiple threads of conflict appear in the show, which connects everything together and builds up to the finale. The progression of the Man in the Mask, the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, to Daredevil is vividly seen through these thirteen episodes. This is an origin story, but instead of a two-hour movie, we've got thirteen hours to build up the reveal of Daredevil, the Man Without Fear.

11. “I believe he walks among us, taking many forms.” (Symbolism)

Sky: The depth of the story line created in Daredevil is astounding. It’s honestly one of the deepest stories I’ve ever seen. Think it’s just about Matt punching people? Think again. The series is chock-full of symbolism and layers, from Matt’s struggle with “the devil inside him” to the parallels between Matt and Fisk.

Jaime: This show is full of symbolism. The writer inside of me can hardly stand it. Mainly because the writers for this show throw in the symbolism and make it work. It's not cheesy, over the top, or awkward. It works well. It gives the show depth, it gives the characters depth. From the religious symbolism to the color red being blood, this show is packed with enough material to satisfy a high school English teacher.

12. “I don’t see the city anymore. All I see are its dark corners.” (Realistic portrayals/grittiness)

Sky: I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Daredevil is dark. It’s Marvel but in a way you’ve never seen before. It’s got swearing, violence, and lots of blood. However, this is also one of Daredevil’s assets. Because it’s on Netflix, there’s a bit more freedom to show some of the rougher things that we don’t get to see in your average summer flick. Yes, the Marvel blockbusters are awesome, but Daredevil raises the stakes in a whole new way (and let me just say, I’m really excited about this new avenue of Marvel Netflix shows). It doesn’t shy away from the hard parts of life--instead, it shows a very honest portrayal of the good and the bad of humanity. It’s not an easy show, but that’s what makes it a good show. It’s dark, but it also shows the light. There’s hope for Matt Murdock. There’s hope for Hell’s Kitchen. There’s hope for us.

Jaime: This show is filled with a lot of dark corners and bloody portrayals. People die or get injured, and it's not pretty. It's real. It's gritty. But it makes it so much more like how Daredevil should be. In the comics, Hell's Kitchen isn't a happy place. It's dark, it's gritty, it's full of danger. This show returns to that Hell's Kitchen and portrays the world of Daredevil in a very real sense. Other Marvel productions feel realistic enough, but they've got to curb to the desired audience with PG or PG-13 level ratings or the restrictions for TV dramas. But Netflix opens up an avenue for both Daredevil and now Jessica Jones to show the other side of the superhero world--away from monsters and magic (to a point), away from aliens (for now) and other worlds, away from the shine of the hero saving the day every time. Daredevil shows the world what a hero without connections to SHIELD or the Avengers has to deal with. And it's heavy stuff.

13. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.” (Portrayal of religion)

Sky: As a Christian, I haven’t seen very many good portrayals of my faith in media. Not a lot of the portrayals of Christianity ring true for me. Most of them aren’t honest enough in my opinion; they sugarcoat life and gloss over the bad things. Because Daredevil is allowed to be so gritty and honest, its portrayal of religion is just as honest. Matt Murdock is Catholic, and his faith is one of the driving reasons behind everything he does. However, Matt’s faith is far from perfect. It’s the messy kind, the kind with more questions than answers. Matt doesn’t have it all figured out, and he struggles to reconcile his actions with his faith. He doesn’t really know if he’s doing the right thing, and he consults with his priest more than once. What results are some of the most poignant, beautiful scenes about God, religion, and justice that I’ve ever seen. 

Matt Murdock and I both believe in God. We both want to do the right thing. We both, more often than not, aren’t always sure what the right thing is. We both struggle with the darker parts of ourselves. When I watch Daredevil, I feel reassured that I’m not the only one trying to balance the dark with the light. I don’t feel so alone. I feel like crying because of the beauty. And that’s something that means so much to me. I’m so grateful to Daredevil and everyone behind the show for giving me a chance to see that even superheroes aren’t sure what to do sometimes, and that’s okay. Daredevil’s portrayal of religion reminds me that it’s okay to not know the answers, but clinging to my faith is a good place to start. (So, thanks, Matt Murdock.)

Jaime: I agree with Sky. This is probably the best portrayal of Christian faith I've ever seen in entertainment. It's honest, it's real. It's an every day struggle. It's a war. While Matt is probably more conflicted than most Christians, I think it reveals something about the Christian population who aren't conflicted. He's not sitting back and being a layman theologian. He's digging into his beliefs and faith to search for the truth. He struggles with right and wrong and the consequences of both. Daredevil helps show the struggle Christians feel in every day life, while also getting to the depths of faith. The writers didn't have to give Matt such strong faith (though it's a pretty big part of his character). They could have glossed over it like they do with the Avengers or make his beliefs more ambiguous. But they didn't. They brought it into the show, and they made it work. They made it real.

With Daredevil on hiatus until May, Sky and Jaime will be recapping Jessica Jones starting in January. We look forward to returning to Hell's Kitchen and to another gritty and dark side of the superhero world, this time about a private investigator. 

What is your favorite aspect of Marvel's Daredevil?


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