Marvel/Netflix “Daredevil” – A Casual Comics perspective
Daredevil’s got a new series coming to your TV screens. If you have Netflix, that is. Should you be excited?
Daredevil is a guy with an odd name for what he actually does. The name would suggest an Evel Kenevel-type, motorcycle-jumping, shark-defying… well… daredevil.
Instead, Daredevil is a blind lawyer who, in his spare time, punches crime in the gonads in the dirty back alleys of the Marvel Universe.
Last time Daredevil was on the screen, he was (in)famously played by Ben Affleck. You should already have an opinion about that movie if you’re reading this blog. If you don’t, let’s just say Affleck’s incompetence playing the hero was rivaled only by Jennifer Garner’s flat, bland portrayal of secret ninja assassin, Elektra.
Still, his was a marginal improvement over name’sRex Smith’s performance playing Daredevil in the made for TV movie (name)The Trial of The Hulk” (Congratulations to Jeff for correctly identifying Rex Smith as Daredevil in “Trial of The Hulk” n the comment section. Your prize will be delivered Friday).
What’s his origin?
Matt Murdock was a happy-go-lucky kid until he crossed paths with a canister of radioactive waste that fell from the back of a truck, blinding him, but enhancing his other senses to superhuman levels.
Because one cliché (radioactive waste) isn’t enough, his father was also killed by the mob for refusing to throw a fight.
While Daredevil has a decent track record as a hero, his alter-ego, Matt Murdock must be a below average lawyer since he was unable to successfully prevent the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from jamming themselves into his origin story as well.
What’s cool about Daredevil?
Even though he was blinded in his youth, his enhanced senses give Daredevil a kind of “radar” that allows him to function pretty well – even in complete blackness. So, in the dark, he’s a creature of the night – invisible and preying on evildoers. He’s more Batman than Batman in the dark back alleys of the big city.
Also, his cane turns into a badass nunchuk/whip hybrid that has busted up more teeth than an evil dentist.
Most Essential Story Arc
Daredevil (Volume 1) #168, 174-182, 187-190 “The Elektra Saga”
Regardless of what other sites might say, the one Daredevil story to know is this one. If you are ever on Super-Password with a comic nerd and get the word “saga”, say “Elektra”. 99% of the time they’ll get it.
(Of course, in my hypothetical scenario, the comic nerd and you are both in your late 30s to late-40s. Because why else would you be on Super-Password? Or even know that Super-Password used to be a real thing?)
This story arc is the one that was completely urinated upon by the Ben Affleck “Daredevil” movie. If you read it, though, you’ll know why even casual comic fans still curse Colin Farrell.
Least Essential Story Arc
Daredevil (Volume 2) #1-8 “Guardian Devil”
Oh, how I wanted to love this series. Written by Kevin Smith and illustrated by Joe Quesada, at least one of them nailed it. (P.S. – it was the one not too busy making pot jokes on his podcast.)
There are cheesier series Daredevil’s run, as you would suspect for a character of this tenure. There are worse throwaway plot devices. But no single arc failed to stick the landing worse than this one. For six issues, this arc created intrigue and piled complications on top of that.
But – Joe Quesada’s art is still wonderful.
In the end, the weight of just plain too much stuff caused an implosion in the last two issues. It’s a massive build-up with no payoff and a huge disappointment.
The Netflix series will be awesome if…
They got the Elektra/Daredevil relationship correct. I think that the Daredevil movie wrecked any hope that Marvel will try that story arc again. So here’s my hope.
Marvel should get back to the basics. One of the more interesting parts of the Daredevil character is his adherence to the Catholic faith. This is something that Kevin Smith clumsily explored in his story arc.
A gritty, urban hero who struggles with his faith while fighting crime is… genuinely interesting. At heart, as a Catholic, Matt Murdock is called to see the best in everyone. How does a back alley vigilante:
- Care for the downtrodden
- Protect the weak
- Call the wicked to redemption
A real superhero who feels a calling, not to avenge, but to bring the evil back into the fold is something we haven’t seen. For Daredevil, he has to balance protecting the innocent with the idea that true heroes are called to sacrifice for the redemption of others.
Add in the class warfare that is inherent in the poverty experienced on “the streets” of the Marvel Universe, and now you’re talking about a hero that’s got threats – physical and moral – all around him.
In a series, that’s easier to develop than in a 90 minute movie, which is why I’m very excited for this Marvel/Netflix deal.
C’mon Marvel. You can do it!