Daredevil Week continues with the arrival of Netflix’s Marvel’s too many apostrophes’ Daredevil this morning. David has shepherded us through Frank Miller’s classic run, two of DD’s most famous origin stories and the not-classic Daredevil movie. Now the billy club has been passed on to me.
Over the course of however long I can do this until life gets in the way, I’m going to binge the series. In between each episode, I’m going to read an issue of Frank Miller’s classic run on the comic book title that shaped the Man Without Fear into the character we know of today, starting with Daredevil #168.
I’m going to recap it live (at least for me), while watching it. I’m not entirely sure what will spill out of me.
And so it begins.
“Into the Ring”
We open on the streets of New York, in day light, which I imagine will be a rare sight going forward. A middle-aged white man looks disoriented, he almost could be blind, but that’s the dazed and terrified look of a father, sensing something terrible has happened to his son. Meet Jack Murdock (John Patrick Hayden).
His son Matt lies prostrate on the concrete, beside a bunch of chemicals, his eyes burning and scarred, his vision lost forever. The boy pushed an old man out of the way of the careening truck, saving his life, essentially the inverse Spider-Man origin. “I can’t see,” he screams, hopefully the campiest moment we have on this show.
“Bless me father, for I have sinned.” We start in a confessional in church, hitting that Daredevil/religious theme early. Also, in this first monologue, I’m already completely sold on Charlie Cox as the adult Matt Murdock, describing his father and his boxing career. His Grandma claimed the Murdock boys had the “devil in them,” which didn’t make me snort because of Cox’s delivery.
“I’m asking forgiveness for what I’m about to do…” Murdock trails off, and the priest grumbles, “that’s not how this works.” This show is traditionally not how Marvel has worked either, thrusting us immediately in the action, a speedy origin story unfolding parallel.
Daredevil almost arrives in the night fully formed: the only thing missing is his trademark red outfit. Now, he’s in all black, with a black mask tied over his eyes. When he saves a slew of girls from being sold into the sex trade or a new Taken movie, the violence has a sense of urgency. It’s brutal but balletic; it’s definitely not ABC.
The credits are great: SO MUCH RED, blood dripping down Lady Justice (blind!), and the streets and buildings of Hell’s Kitchen, pooling into Daredevil. I’m so in right now guys.
Foggy wakes up Matt, but our dutiful sidekick/fellow defense lawyer is proudly off to “bribe a cop,” gifting cigars for an old friend/enemy officer’s mother, “who will outlive us all.”
Hell’s Kitchen is cheap, thanks to the Chitauri, and it’s the new home for Nelson & Murdock. They just need clients.
Cut to: Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), bloodied, in front a bloody corpse, holding a knife, absolutely freaking out as cops come in and cuff her. New client/love interest!
When they come to visit Karen, they admit: they’ve been practicing law for…7 hours. Karen Page would be their first client. She doesn’t have any money, which is enough for Foggy to leave, but Matt thinks the arrangement could benefit both of them. Wink wink, but not really, but kinda.
Apparently, the dead man was Daniel Fisher, a co-worker, a nice man with which she had a few drinks. Next thing she remembers, she woke up on the floor next to his body. “You have to believe me,” nearly delirious. But Murdock believes, listening to her heartbeat, a human lie detector.
Someone new in town has taken over the books from the local crime boss (can you say Kingpin?) and his “lapdog” is terrifying, blackmailing a Mr. Furnum to do his bidding by showing they have eyes on his daughter.
Foggy and Matt bicker, for what will likely be many times, about taking a deal. Considering the evidence stacked against her, Foggy thinks they should take anything. Matt smells something fishy, wondering why they haven’t charged her with such overwhelming evidence. Something else is going on. Foggy sighs, Matt has a knack for beautiful women with questionable character. Heh.
That night, Karen gets attacked in her cell, nearly choked to death by a miserable Mr. Furnum/the guard, until she claws his eyes. Hell yes. This gets her out and into Murdock’s offices, where she reveals her tale: she happened upon an e-mail at her company Union Allied, that has profited from the west side’s reconstruction following the fight in New York. The e-mail reveals a pension fund with a lot of money that isn’t exactly a pension fund, you know criminal stuff.
Page is a wreck; she was drugged on her date, and knows Daniel killed because of her. She isn’t safe…so Matt takes her to his place, and he has a massive over-arching loft apartment. Thanks to a Blade Runner-y advertisement and construction and whatnot, he got it for cheap. I love how the Avengers movie is being used in this show.
Karen changes shirts/gets naked in front of Matt because he’s blind. Lucky!
Matt wonders why Karen wasn’t killed in the first place, and guesses that Karen still has the file, that this is why she wasn’t killed. She lies and denies it.
VILLAIN MEET UP! In an empty high-rise somewhere in the Westside Reconstruction, Leland (Bob Gunton), the man who will/would be The Owl, Wesley (Kingpin’s second in command), Russian gangsters Vladimir and Anatoly and Chinese drug lord Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) talk about their villainous plans, upset that Wesley’s boss doesn’t show up. “Don’t say his name.” Wesley claims they’re handling the Union Allied problem, and it’s clear all the crime bosses are operating through Union Allied and in on it.
Karen slips out of Murdock’s apartment and back to hers, like a moron. She retrieves the bluetooth, and promptly gets attacked and is about to be killed when Matt arrives. During the scrum, they end up toppling out the window, knocking him to flashback land, where Young Matt gets told to go to school, because Jack doesn’t want his son to end up like him, his face puffy and bleeding on the table. Jesus. “Get to work,” he says.
And this unleashes a great rainy, gritty battle. Daredevil, of course, wins, grabs the bluetooth, and because it’s not safe with anybody, he sends it to the New York Post (and presumably Ben Urich!). The next morning, the Union Allied cover up is in the papers, and Wesley, on the phone with our Mysterious Crime Boss/Wilson Fisk, is cleaning up the mess and removing their implication in the events.
Fisk tells him to start a file on Nelson and Murdock; “they might prove useful.”
Karen’s happy as a clam, and as a thank you, has made a meal for Foggy and Matt that she was told to only prepare for her future husband (foreshadowing?!). The three are as giggly as we’ll probably ever see them, and Page offers her help with the law offices. “I’ll work for free.” That’s how you get hired in this economy.
Our first episode ends on a series of shots, intercut with Matt at the decrepit and dark Fogwell’s Gym, hitting a punching bag endlessly, a poster for a fight advertising “Carl Crusher Creel vs Jack Murdock” on the wall. As he fights, we get a glimpse of the entire Hell’s Kitchen criminal network: Leland’s still happy, transferring illegal funds from account to account, Furnum’s daughter walks in on her poor father murdered during laundry day, representatives of what is probably The Hand have a nefarious grid plan in Hell’s Kitchen, drugs are being manufactured and overseen Madame Gao, and Vladimir and Anatoly kidnap a kid.
Daredevil, standing on the top of a building, in a classic comic book pose, hears the city all around him, focusing on the screams of the kidnapped child. He puts down his mask. “Time to work.”
What a pilot.