by Sam Robinson
If you can’t handle the heat, get out of Hell’s Kitchen.
If Daredevil teaches us anything, it’s that crime and violence is rife on the streets of New York. Although this new Netflix/Marvel series is clearly a fictional drama, setting Daredevil in a real location adds an extra sense of reality, more than fictional Gotham or Arrow’s Starling City. Hell’s Kitchen is a real place, with real vulnerable people, and it only increases the tension and grittiness in this new series.
Daredevil is based on the Marvel character, last seen in the rather dull 2003 film with Ben Affleck in the title role. But, please forget about that incarnation – this is the Daredevil you want to watch.
Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is the lead in this series. At the age of nine he was rendered blind when toxic waste splashed on his eyes, and the pilot sees him starting his own law practice with his pal Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson). The motivations for these two men to open a law practice are not yet made clear, but the office isn’t the only place where Murdock is seeking justice. He roams the streets by night as a vigilante – formidable in fighting, despite being unable to see.
The pilot sees Murdock and Nelson take on their first client, a young woman accused of murder. She insists that she is innocent, and Murdock is very quick to believe her, taking her into his home for protection. But this isn’t all that’s happening in Hell’s Kitchen. By night, Daredevil takes down crims, but he is no flawless superhero.
Daredevil is dark. Not just theoretically, but also in look. Ink black hues dominate each frame, and this transports us into Murdock’s world of darkness. Where there is colour, it’s seen through neon splashes from city lights and billboard screens. Production values are high, and combined with top-notch acting, this series has the quality of a Marvel flick. That said, it’s very violent and gritty, almost making Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. look like a kid’s show. It’s much more close to DC’s Arrow. There’s loads of blood and punch-ups here.
So far, it appears that Murdock is a defender. Whether he is his masked vigilante alter-ego or not, he is on about protecting the vulnerable. In the pilot, these are all defenseless women. In an unsafe world, he aims to bring justice. This might sound like every other superhero plot (and it does) but there’s a twist here. Murdock is blind himself – but he uses this to his advantage – maximising other senses – in order to help the needy.
There’s a scene at the end of the first episode where Daredevil stands on the roof of a building and tunes in to the many sounds of the city at night. Cries for help. Screams. One man isn’t going to be able to help all the needy. But David’s words in Psalm 18 tell us that our God is a true defender, and his justice is right and fair. Psalm 18:6 –
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
This is true for us too. In our darkest hour, we can cry to God and know that he hears us. He is always there for us, and he always listens. God is our true defender, and we see this most in the gracious act of Jesus to rescue us from our sin and death forever.
Daredevil is the first of four new Marvel series to be made for Netflix, so we can expect plenty of enjoyable, big-budget drama to come. I recommend you get into the Kitchen and spend a few hours getting to know Matt Murdock. Four-and-a-half stars.
Season one of Marvel’s Daredevil is now streaming on Netflix.