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First Impressions of Daredevil

Watched the first episode last night. Thoughts:

I really liked it.

The intro is a bit strange. At first, I thought maybe it was blood, but it looks too bright. So if not blood, then I guess it's... just red paint? Red candle wax? Not sure why they wanted to go that route.

Hell's Kitchen feels just bright and fresh and Sam Raimi's NYC-esque in the daytime. That's a very good choice. But at night, they seem to have gone for a toned down Punisher Warzone take, with lots of harsh yellow lighting. I'll have to see more, but I think it's a good look. From the spectrum of tv superhero shows I've watched, I'd say Flash has the most naturalistic looking city, while Daredevil is skewing towards the more exaggerated feel of Gotham, but not quite going as far. Again, I'll need to see more, but I'd say they've found a good balance.

Of the three leads, I've been really happy with Foggy and Karen Page. I'm quite familiar with the actor playing Foggy. He's been in the great indie "Cheats" as well as Ashton Kutcher's "The Butterfly Effect" and Denzel's "Deja Vu." The guy is just naturally charismatic and his chemistry with Matt is on point. You really feel for the guy, knowing that he's going to eventually be a third wheel with Matt and Karen (if they go down that comic storyline route). Not as familiar with Karen Page's actress, cause I sure as hell didn't watch Tru Blood, but she really impressed me. It really helps that she doesn't have a smidge of that annoying, cloying quality that seems to infest all of the female love interests on the CW's superhero shows (Lana, Laurel, Iris). The real genuineness of Karen Page here and her interactions with these two green lawyers is so damn refreshing and welcome to my jaded eyes. There aren't any lovey dovey eyes or anything, it feels like how realistic people would behave.

And then there's Matt Murdock. The actor playing him obviously doesn't have the strong heroic chin of a Ben Affleck, so I feel like he's playing up more of the nerdy legal side of Matt so far. That's the impression I'm getting. There's also the inherent challenge of the role, being as most actors' best tool to work with are their eyes. Here, this is pretty much taken away since we're dealing with a blind guy. So right from the start, the poor guy's handicapped in what he can convey. I think he's doing a good job, but overall my reaction is... just not really completely blown away like I was with the other two.

The action scenes are great and exactly what you'd want in a Daredevil show. They aren't quite up there with what we've seen in movies like The Raid and Winter Soldier, but for a tv show, it's pretty much as good as you can hope for. Unlike some portrayals of Batman, the young DD here does not take guys out without suffering a single hit. You feel every punch landing on Matt and it helps humanize the guy.

Of the other characters shown, I think the most important one is going to be the Kingpin's lackey. He seems much more assertive than Wesley in the comics, so perhaps he's not actually Wesley? But he kinda looks like Wesley, with the glasses and all. Wesley always had this meek and mouse-like quality in the comics, which was a striking contrast to the horrors he could unleash with just a simple phone call. The guy playing the role here is much more of a confident and sinister taskmaster, which probably allows for more story possibilities down the road for the show.

Overall, I think it's off to a great start. The delight of getting a true origin story for Daredevil's universe is definitely here, as opposed to Affleck's film. These aren't bigtime lawyers yet, they're straight out of law school in a dinky little apartment, and you even get to see the handwritten office sign which is just fun. You can see how they're going to gradually put all the pieces together and it feels fresh and rewarding. In Manohla Dargis's review for Batman Begins, she ends with describing how the movie "invites us to watch Bruce Wayne quietly piecing together his Batman identity, to become a secret sharer to a legend, just as we did once upon a time when we read our first comic." That's the same sense I get with this show.

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