Bandwagon-jumping with gusto: Marvel’s Daredevil

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((Minimal spoilers for the TV show, but if you know practically nothing and prefer to keep it that way, don’t read past the first paragraph or so.))

Shortly after Marvel’s Daredevil series dropped onto Netflix on April 10, my Facebook, tumblr, and Twitter feeds were flooded with commentary about it, raving about the show and how it handled the previously-lesser-known superhero. The primary thing cropping up, however, was the Catholicism. My Catholic Facebook friends who had watched it were talking about how well it approached the Faith, and the Catholic side of tumblr was debating the finer points of its approach (as tumblr is wont to do). So two weeks later, after my academic schedule had cleared up a little, I sat down and watched it. I only recently finished it and am still chewing it over and discussing it with anyone willing to listen. (My friends are either very patient or too nice to tell me to go away.)

The first thing I’d like to say is that yes, Daredevil handles Catholicism fantastically. We get a glimpse at the harder side of being Catholic — morality and the concept of an eternal soul capable of being damned are chief among the things presented to the viewer. We have regular interactions with a priest who, instead of being relegated to a mere sounding board, is a fully fleshed-out character of his own, with experiences and opinions and stories to tell. And frequently we have Matt Murdock (played by Charlie Cox), our dashing protagonist, feeling the weight of his chosen moral system.

Another thing of note, mentioned in this article on Tor (warning: it contains serious spoilers for the whole series): consequences for actions are carried all the way through, from one episode to the next. Wounds are visible for many episodes, and are often shown in varying stages of healing (or not, as is pretty much the case with Matt, who straight-up refuses to “rest and get better”). The make-up effects in this show are phenomenal to the point of disturbing — I’m rather sensitive to things like blood, pain, and gore in TV (mostly because I can’t do anything about it) and found myself cringing quite a bit. It’s not all senseless violence, however; the purpose of these graphic scenes are to give us, the viewers, a greater sense of reality in the show.

Daredevil is unique in that, unlike many other film adaptations within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (also called the MCU), it is extraordinarily light on the kitsch and camp so often found in other live-action superhero-centric shows. Aside from the occasional Superman-esque rooftop shots, where Matt surveys the city below him, the references to the comics are subtle, nuanced, and not usually something a non-comics person would pick up on. Each scene is composed and often colour-coded — and while it could definitely use some brighter lighting in at least some scenes, as a whole it is well tied-together. My personal favourite little quirk is that the wardrobes are rather reminiscent of the 1960s, when the comic was initially relased, but characters are frequently interacting with modern technology such as smartphones and tablets.

While the show is aesthetically attractive in some ways — there are at least three or four distinct examples of phenomenal camera work which I can list off the top of my head, and I want to steal Karen Page’s entire wardrobe — the characters are also well-developed. Matt and his best friend Foggie have an excellent relationship, clever banter, and a hilarious backstory. The main villain is introduced through a love story. And the motivations of each character are often eerily similar, despite their wildly different executions.

If I say much more, I’ll be spilling major spoilers, so I’ll close with this: I loved it. Many of my friends have also loved it. Be wary of the gore and blood — it’s a bit squick-inducing at times — but it’s definitely worth watching. Plus, Charlie Cox is kind of adorable (and Catholic himself!), so that’s an added bonus.

How could you say this isn’t cute?

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