The new Marvel Netflix exclusive series Daredevil has taken the nation by storm. Raving reviews all around, but what exactly is it about this series that has given it such high remarks? In truth, the success of the series really can’t be reduced to one factor, excelling in numerous elements such as writing, cinematography, acting etc. What we are going to focus on is the key factor, or ingredient, that separates Daredevil from the rest of the Marvel cinematic universe.
Let’s look at the hero himself, Matthew Murdock aka Daredevil. Seems to be another run of the mill vigilante, however when he stands up to the bad guys it looks a little different. Few swift moves are found and instead the sequence is filled with ungraceful force, barely being a single step ahead of the thugs he’s standing against. For the most part this doesn’t change; his combat skills are imperfect, when he’s outnumbered the fight reduces his stamina to a state where he can barely stand, every fight get’s him beaten, battered and wounded worse than the last. Most super heroes lose a fight at the most predictable time for classic conflict structure, only to bounce back later without any hindrance or real resonating damage. Matthew Murdock proves that he really is human, and he has just as much to risk in the battle as any of us.
Let’s move on to the main villain Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin. A large and strong looking figure who we later find to have a devastating temper to be feared by all. However we quickly discover that he also has a weak side when he asks an art exhibit manager to dinner; he’s terrible at public speaking. A man with great ambition and frightening physical strength hates to be in public. This villain again reveals another layer when an episode reveals his disturbing past that haunts him every single night. This strange combination of characteristics and overall mannerisms leaves us much more curious rather than hateful for this villain, some may even say sympathetic. No villain has reached near the level of depth Kingpin has thanks to seeing so much of him inside and out, arguably making him Marvels greatest cinematic villain.
Between the good and the evil our countless good citizens and crime lackeys beaten, captured, betrayed and just scared out of their wits in this filthy crumbling city known as Hell’s Kitchen.
So what is the secret ingredient that separates Daredevil from the rest of Marvel Cinema?… Vulnerability. Where the rest of the super heroes get in fights, never could I say that I really believed their lives were in danger. Every step of Daredevils journey in this series was a step of desperation harder and harder to push forward, it made us truly fear for this character’s life, and made his conviction all the more inspiring.
Flip the coin to most Marvel villains who really only have two traits… power or cunning dialogue, both if they are lucky. We really don’t see anything from the villain’s personal life. Kingpin became more relatable by showing outright weakness and understandable flaws, along with deep rooted issues in his youth.
The power of these super heroes/villains and the lighter tone of how most of them are portrayed leaves most of the Marvel productions relying solely on the thrill of the action. Daredevil is a step in making Marvel cinema not just entertaining but emotionally and psychologically challenging. For a number of reasons this show is unique and inspiring, but Vulnerability is the theme that has set Daredevil in a realm of its own.
Daredevil Season 1 is now available on Netflix.
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