Dissecting Daredevil: GCE Writers Weigh-InApril 16, 2015
If you called in sick to work or kept your shades shut and your doors locked the weekend of April 10, then you were like most people we know. Binging Marvel’s Daredevil, only moving to respond to Netflix’s Are you still watching? message. I wrangled some of the GCE writers to lend their thoughts, reactions and speculation.
With us today we have John Fitzsimons, Alanna Smith, Steph Mernagh, and me. Spoilers are prefaced with a bold disclaimer, so you can still read if you haven’t finished the series -some of our writers are still working on that too.
1) What are your initial thoughts about Netflix and Marvel’s Daredevil?
JF – One episode in and I love it. The fighting style feels different to anything seen in other Marvel stuff, which is absolutely appropriate. There is great chemistry and comedy in the Matt/Foggy relationship, which is one of the best things about the comics. It just feels right, already, in a way that Agents of SHIELD for example didn’t. – Seven episodes in and I feel much the same. This is an astonishing piece of work.
LC – The dark overtone isn’t forced, it is so natural and fluid. We know things are bad, but it mirrors how we realistically deal with problems in our communities. The characters are well-drawn from the moments we are introduced to them. We’re stepping in to an already started story, and Daredevil does such a fine job blowing us away with it.
SM – I haven’t watched the entire season yet, but they have my attention and I’m eager to continue. Not knowing a lot about Daredevil personally, I’ve found the first couple episodes to be informative without it being boring – I feel that people who are fans of Daredevil already will like the way they integrate the backstory with a couple short clips instead of drawing it out needlessly.
2) Stylistically, what did Marvel achieve?
JF – The tone is just so radically different to the rest of Marvel’s output, but it still feels like part of the same world. It is literally so, so dark, that I had trouble watching it on my phone on the train into work (the ideal way to watch a superhero show, obviously). There is a real air of menace to proceedings; it just hits you in the gut. It feels like everyone is in danger, but it’s a more real danger than being attacked by aliens or gods from Asgard.
LC – Perhaps it was the constant cautionary yellow light featured in almost every scene, but the sense of real-stakes was achieved. That yellow light is beyond important and on my re-watch I will probably write a list out of every scene it plays a part. There was also such a truth to the problems the people of Hell’s Kitchen were facing. Perhaps because the city is my backyard and I recognize these very real problems for communities spattered throughout the city, no Battle of New York needed. Spoiler alert: Lower-income residents are constantly kicked out of their homes and developers bulldoze them to the ground to make for high-priced pencil-thin skyscrapers. Stylistically, Marvel’s Daredevil captures the heartbeat of New York City.
SM – I have to agree with John here; everything feels dark and menacing, like you wouldn’t want to get caught out on the street alone in Hell’s Kitchen because something terrible might happen. They’ve given the city a cold, uninviting feeling to it, adding to the feeling of despair some residents seem to feel. In the daylight it is a little bit more friendly, but it seems like a place you should keep your guard up. Marvel did well setting the tone for everything.
3) Daredevil is touted as darker, does this still fit into the MCU?
JF – I think it definitely feels like part of the same universe. They haven’t gone overboard with references to the wider MCU, the balance is just right.
LC – It is darker, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s not forced. The story is hyper-localized. Agents of SHIELD doesn’t need this darkness because its focus is on the wider world, while Daredevil is so focused on one neighborhood in the city. When Vincent D’Onofrio (Wilson Fisk) spoke about his role he was so adamant about talking how the events of the Battle of New York made opportunities for people like his character. It shows.
SM – It definitely feels darker, but it doesn’t feel out of place. I can still picture Daredevil and Spider-man hanging out, maybe cleaning up the city a little bit. I like the subtle nods to the references, too. Also, the darker feel lends credence as to why Matt chooses vigilantism in the first place.
AS – It definitely still fits into the MCU despite its darker feel. Daredevil is much more grounded – rather than focusing on the superhero team flying around fighting off armies, we’re dealing with the individual citizens that “the incident” affected. The show has its own style but never forgets the greater world its apart of.
4) In the first episode it is clear the tie-ins to the past events in the MCU, do you think there will be tie-ins to the future MCU? Any reasoning why?
JF – I think there will, but I think that, much as with Agents of SHIELD, it will be dealing with the consequences of things going on at a higher level. I don’t think we are going to see bits of webbing, or a flying shield, for example!
LC – Spoiler Alert: There are some people saying the poster Matt sits in front at the precinct is alluding to Civil War. For me, the sentiment of that poster is pretty broad and it also applies to the on-goings of Daredevil. I think there will be things that are touched upon in the other Defenders series, but it’s too early to make those calls. The Creel mention was also a nice nod to Agents of SHIELD who featured The Absorbing Man earlier in their second season.
AS – Spoiler Alert: While I don’t think there is much in the way of hints to the future MCU films, there are definitely connections to the other Defenders series. Iron Fist seemed to be the most hinted-at in this series, with connections like Madame Gao’s mysterious homeland, the Rand Co. truck of chemicals, and the man that Stick was reporting to whose face we couldn’t see. Details about the Black Sky – who was only a child – was also left very vague; perhaps he has… Inhuman abilities?
5) What were your favorite moments?
LC – This was a scene showcased in the trailers so I’m not tagging it as a spoiler, but I really love the cinematography in one of the early fights. When Matt is peeling himself off the wet asphalt, and the blood oozes from his mouth onto the ground…man….chills. Spoiler alerts: In the last episode with the FBI sweep of everyone involved in Fisk’s plans the creators chose Luciano Pavarotti’s version of Nessun Dorma. I thought it was so brilliant, and using one of my favorite opera songs to boot. It had wonderful juxtaposition. There’s also that hallway fight scene shot in a single-take, it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s apparently an homage to Oldboy but when Murdock slowly creeps down the hallway I got such a Sleep No More vibe especially with that yellow light and monotone sound ringing. The camera is part of the action, slowly moving around the bodies and with fixation to the door at the end of the hallway -the goal. The exhaustion of everyone involved in the fight grows, and it’s just… beautiful, so beautiful.
SM – Spoiler Alert: The scene where Murdock takes down the bad guys and saves the kid; he’s still hurt from the night before and it is clear, but his determination to save the kid from the potential horrors that await him are clearly what drives him. It is done as one continuous shot and it looks as gorgeous as it sounds; he takes one down with a punch, another with a kick; holds his side and grits his teeth in agony, then continues on kicking ass. When all is said and done he gathers the child he is there to rescue and leaves, panting heavily from exertion and clearly wanting to double over in pain. It is beautiful.
JF – Spoiler Alert: The rescue of the little boy was phenomenal, was very reminiscent of the Man Without Fear story. The Stick episode was really, really good too. Got a few laughs too!
AS – Spoiler Alert: I think the most emotional moment for me was the Battlin’ Jack Murdock sequence, where we see Matt’s father put everything on the line just so his son can hear the crowd cheering his name at least once. The entire lead up to that fight and the aftermath was done beautifully, I feel. Also, of course, that glorious long take of Matt taking down the goons in the hallway and saving the boy was fantastic. No cutting, just a single long take that lasted almost 5 minutes (bravo camera department).
6) How did you feel about the cast- both the characters and actors?
LC – All around very strong. Charlie Cox, I think, did a wonderful job. When he was playing regular, attorney Matt Murdock, he was humble, level-headed, and good-willed. Wilson Fisk and Matt Murdock share so many of the same qualities. They are both very dangerous, however Murdock has a righteous morality sense imparted by his faith. Fisk has violence on top of his danger and he only thinks he is being moral. The relationship between Matt and Foggy was also well-written. Foggy was written so that he wasn’t just the dopey friend which happens a lot in heroic movies. He does offer some comic relief but it in no part lessens his intelligence and confidence, which for me was great characterization. I also enjoyed Ben Urich, Karen and Gao. Ben Urich reminded me why I love writing so much, and Karen reminded me that naivety doesn’t need to infringe upon your intelligence.
SM – I am still warming up to them, but I immediately liked Charlie Cox’ portrayal of the iconic hero and have found him interesting to watch as he has to express emotion through everything but using his eyes; usually the easiest way to read someone. He had me interested in the very first episode. The child actor they get to play young Matt is fantastic too and so is the actor who plays Matt’s father (apologies, I don’t know his name). I have actually really enjoyed the backstory with them and the despair and pain that it brought to the character. It is a little early for me to comment on the other characters, but I don’t find anyone annoying or unnecessary yet so that’s a good thing!
JF – The casting of Ben Urich has been a complete triumph, though honestly everyone has been really good. The only thing that has felt a little off to me has been Kingpin, who has been played as awkward and hesitant socially, when he is basically the opposite in most comics.
AS – Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock was phenomenal. He brought something so appropriate to the role and you never doubted his performance. Both him and his younger counterpart also did an excellent job of ‘staying blind’ – keeping eye lines vague enough that we could believe Matt Murdock really can’t see. A tiny detail, but a very important one. I also think Foggy was an absolute delight and offered so much more than just comedic relief. I wish we’d seen more of Claire because I really liked her character – she had believable reactions and ideals about these crazy things happening in her world. Ben Urich and Jack Murdock deserve a round of applause for their emotional performance as well. Really, the entire cast is superb.
7) Does this impact how you feel about the other Defenders shows coming?
LC – When Marvel and Netflix announced their plans together, I was excited. But that excitement was based more on the amount of content we’d be getting. Now my excitement is for the stories, for the characters, for the moving components that make-up the heartbeat of a good show. I had seen the behind-the-scene photos of AKA: Jessica Jones, and wondered why everyone looked so very brooding. Now I know what world they are apart of and I could not be salivating over the content any more. It’ll still be a long while before all the Defenders come together, but if the other standalones are just a good as this, boy are we in for something truly special.
JF – I only know a little about Jessica Jones and her relationship to the Purple Man, and seeing how dark this series has been means I’m prepared for some seriously uncomfortable viewing! Very excited to see how they all interact.
AS – I was already pretty excited about Luke Cage, and after seeing how successful Daredevil was I am beyond ecstatic. Luke Cage is a character I’ve been looking forward to seeing on screen and while I can’t wait for him to become a part of the bigger MCU, I’m so excited he’ll get this wonderful 13-episode series devoted just to developing his character. Daredevil has given me even more hope than I already had.
8) How do you feel about the costumes?
LC – Mini spoiler alert: I haven’t ready anyone else’s opinions on the red Daredevil suit, but my God did I love it. All season it had been mentioned and referred to and in those final moments with Murdock standing above the city… childhood giddiness. Which I should mentioned this show is not child-friendly. You’ll still have to watch Ben Affleck’s garbage version (sorry, not sorry) with your kiddos until they’re old enough to see hands get chopped off and people lit on fire.
SM – I think Daredevil’s black outfit is great. Simple, and that is all he needs. Unfortunately I haven’t watched all of the way through yet, but I am assuming they debut him in his red uniform somewhere down the line, and I would like to see how they do that.
JF – The black costume feels very Iron Fist to me. Haven’t reached classic costume yet!
AS – I honestly loved his black costume. It’s super simple, something that a regular person would put together if they were going to suddenly decide to try the vigilante lifestyle. Plus it worked for me story wise, because let’s remember this is a blind man picking out a super suit – his first try isn’t exactly going to be stylish. And that red suit is freaking beautiful.
9) Anything else you want to say?
LC – I would just want to thank Marvel (AKA The House of Stan Lee), for putting together such an enjoyable experience. Thanks for getting New York right (except for the part where it looked like no one was around at night… hello- NY is the city that never sleeps, and Hell’s Kitchen nowadays is teeming with trendy restaurants, attractions, and skyrocketing rent prices due to gentrification).
SM – As a makeup artist, maybe I tend to notice this a little more than the average person, but their special effects when it came to the injuries looked fantastic and really made you wince in some cases. SPOILER ALERT: When Matt is stitching up his dad following a particularly brutal boxing match, the ‘flesh’ moves as if it was real skin, and looks painful. His skin is different colors of bruising, which can be difficult to do and keep in with continuity when taking into consideration healing time of bruises, etc. I thought that was incredibly well done and looked great.
AS – I think Marvel has just discovered their greatest achievement and I hope they don’t take it for granted. Releasing this show as a mini series on Netflix was a genius choice. This seems like the kind of thing people want: the ability to watch their favourite characters develop at their own pace in preparation for them banding together for something like a team film. Don’t get me wrong, I love MCU solo films, but this is such an excellent option for these types of characters, who operate better on the ground without the fame or fortune – everyday vigilantes. By dealing with hero stories on a smaller scale, Marvel is actually expanding its universe. Now we’re dealing with everything from the vast reaches of the 9 realms to the local neighbourhood of Hell’s Kitchen.
[Images via Netflix/ Marvel]