"Daredevil", the Netflix Original Series that is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has concluded its second season , and is reportedly in the process of filming a third season, at the same time as Marvel is preparing to release several series based around interlocking characters, including Jessica Jones and The Punisher. This review will contain spoilers for Series 1 and 2.
Although the series had some flaws, and the amount of graphic violence might not be to everyone's taste, the series has basically succeeded in two difficult tasks: capturing the essence of the Marvel comic book series, and making a dense and engaging television show. The different facets of Daredevil, such as his blindness, faith in the law, anger, and Catholicism are all explored to much greater length than they could in a movie. The supporting characters, even when they are modified from the comic books, capture their spirit. The doughy but plucky Foggy Nelson, the sophisticated but brutal Wilson Fisk and the jaded but principled journalist Ben Urich are all depicted in a way that makes them seem both like their traditional comic book selves, but also fully drawn characters. The character's departures from convention in details only strengthen their depiction in essence.
The series eschews the "snappy dialogue" and "clever moments" that were a trend in television for a long while. It is not exactly quotable. The scenes tend to trade between explosive fight scenes and long speeches. Both of these could get boring, but because the overall arc of the show is presented as a detective story, with a number of mysteries to solve, the compulsion to keep watching goes on.
The first series and the second series, each 13 episodes, showed different types of storytelling. The first series was a traditional story told with Marvel characters. It has a single dramatic unity, showing the conflict between Daredevil and Wilson Fisk. Although there was some subplots, and hints of things to come (especially in the episode "Stick"), it was basically a universally recognizable story about a good man fighting against a corrupt man. It was also almost bare of either supernatural or science-fiction elements. The second series was more of a Marvel story (naturally). Instead of having roles in a single story, characters shift their roles and types to fight into a number of stories. Along with Matt Murdock and his business associates, we are introduced to two slightly interrelated plots: the story of The Punisher and his battle against crime, and the story of Matt's exgirlfriend, the assassin Elektra and her battle against a cult of ninjas. The second series also takes on a much more "comic book" feel, with more costumes, more science-fiction, and more magic.
If there is one thing that I think the show has missed so far, it is the urbanity of Matt Murdock, Attorney at Law. My own take on Daredevil is that he is just a tool that Matt Murdock, a very intelligent man who believes in the law, uses to right wrongs. The series so far has treated Daredevil's brutality and anger as the real character, and the lawyer persona of Matt Murdock as just a ruse. It would perhaps be more entertaining to see Murdock, a lawyer and investigator with superhuman powers of observation, use a bit of detective work and subterfuge to solve crimes, rather than beating up thugs in back alleys. Along the same lines, despite the obvious grim and gritty nature of the series, it would be nice to see an occasional lighthearted, acrobatic take on the character. Whether I will get my wish, and how Daredevil will fit into the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, will be seen in the next few years.