by David Norris 3/28/16
Daredevil – Superhero for a progressive audience? Throughout this series the elite are occasionally glimpsed at high end parties, untouched by the unpleasantness of the street, where a diverse and multi-cultural cast reside in the second season of this Marvel series.
Though there are some redeeming features to this program, and even though I am a bit of a comic book nerd, I have to give this show a thumbs down. It is time to admit that the work of the social engineers in the television industry has gotten to me, and that much of the visual ‘food’ they are producing for consumption is unhealthy.
I think I’ve reached my fill of the ‘moral relativism’ themes in many of these shows; you know, where the villains aren’t really bad, just misunderstood, and the heroes need to dial back their prejudices and intolerances, and be more understanding. Watching shows like this becomes an exercise in frustration, because after a while I just become numb and ambivalent about the characters and the story.
When I first heard about this show I was told, “Oh you’re really going to like this, it’s not like a lot of superhero shows…it’s ‘dark’.” What is that supposed to mean? Risque, salacious, psychologically deranged or debased? What is our society’s fascination with dark about anyway?
Let’s get on with the good, the bad and the ugly of it all.
The good: Like many of the Marvel characters brought to life in recent years, the series does a commendable job of capturing that comic-book universe . The dialog and the combat choreography are above average. The cast is decent with some great supporting roles by Vincent D’Onofrio as criminal king pin Wilson Fisk, Jon Bernthal (of Walking Dead fame) as Frank Castle an ex-soldier who snaps after his family is murdered by criminals and he in turn becomes a vigilante, and Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple a nurse who puts Matt Murdoch (Daredevil) back together after he has the stuffing beat out of him.
Charlie Cox, the Brit who plays Matt Murdoch and his alter ego daredevil, is rather bland and non-descript in the role. Matt was injured in a freak accident as a boy, which blinded him but at the same time gave him special powers that increased the abilities of his other senses; for example, now he can ‘see’ using his hearing much like a bat does. After Matt’s father, a professional boxer, is killed by the mob for not taking a dive in a fight, he is left homeless and is discovered by the mysterious ‘Stick’, a blind martial artist, played by Scott Glenn, who takes Matt under his wing and trains him to fight.
The bad: One of the more aggravating elements of this show to me is that the Daredevil continuously fights some really bad, violent, homicidal dudes, yet won’t kill them, even when that is exactly what the circumstances call for. He holds on to some sort of utopian idealism (which by the way is the opposite of what Stick tried to instill in him) that everyone has a drop of goodness in them, and if you just give them a chance. A chance…for what, to surrender and turn themselves in? More often than not they wind up giving daredevil a serious beat-down before he is able to subdue them (knocking them out). This happens time and time again, and is painful to watch. He even acknowledges at one point that the justice system is broken and can’t keep a lot of these guys incarcerated for long before they are back out on the street committing more crimes and murders.
To me this is beyond a ‘flawed’ hero, but is more like a character that has a serious disconnect with reality. Where did he get these ideas from one wonders? Could it possibly be related to the fact that Matt was educated in the ivy league towers of Columbia law school (he is a lawyer by day)? As the series progresses, and the more Daredevil is pushed to the edge, he still won’t cross the line to do what needs to be done. It becomes more than a bit absurd.
I keep looking for someone to root for in this series. The three main characters; Matt, and his friends Foggy and Karen, are the most neurotic, stubborn, insecure and whiney leads ever. The local police force, judiciary, and politicians are rife with corruption.
Matt is constantly giving others advice that he won’t follow himself. He doesn’t listen very well either, especially when Claire calls him on his nonsense and tells him the truth that he really needs to hear…it’s in one ear and out the other. He is so obsessed with ‘saving’ people that he won’t take care of his own health first; consequently he winds up fighting at a diminished capacity and unexpectedly hurts those around him because of his hard headedness. So much for friends.
The ugly: Again I find myself with more empathy for and interest in the mass-murdering (he kills criminal gangs) ex-soldier Frank Castle, and the mountainous crime king pin Wilson Fisk because they seem more real and they ‘get the job done’. What does that say about me?
For the most part the Daredevil experience left me cold with that same icky-afterwards feeling that I’ve experienced with so many of these popular binge-watched television series. Which leads me to the following admission, one that I’ve avoided making for years… the television is not our friend. More on that another time. • (850 views)