Daredevil premiered last year on Netflix as one of their planned shows to build up to a Defenders series. It’s first season served as an origin story for the title character before the big team up. However, the show was an unexpected hit that eventually threw Netflix and Marvel’s plans off course. The show gained a second season which is scheduled to premiere this Friday. But before we embrace the new direction the show is headed in, let’s take a look back at the season that challenged the perception of what a superhero show could be.
To prepare for season two, I decided to refresh my memory by rewatching the first season. The plan was to binge it in the background while multitasking with something else. After all, this would be my second viewing anyways. But by the end of the first episode, I realized that I gave the show more focus than I planned on. By the end of the second, I realized that Daredevil demands your attention as it grips you and pulls you in its world of organized crime and violence as if it’s your first visit to Hell’s Kitchen. Daredevil’s first season was just as powerful and engaging the second time around, and it served as a great reminder of all of the great moments overshadowed by Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal of Wilson Fisk.
The first storyline I was reminded of was the arch dealing with the Russian mafia’s sex slave business. After the Man Without Fear ruins one of their shipments, things are set in to motion for them to take him out. After setting a trap for Daredevil that proves unsuccessful, they kidnap a child and hold him as bait in order to finish the job. Beaten and bloodied all to hell, Matt Murdock is barely in his second episode before he’s found in a dumpster half dead by Claire, an off duty nurse. After she tends to his wounds as best as possible, Claire finds herself involved in a world she never asked to be a part of as one of the henchmen working for the Russian mafia figures out that she’s hiding Daredevil in her apartment.
Barely able to move, Matt drops a fire extinguisher on the henchmen from the top of the stairs, and take him to the roof for questioning. Once he gets the location of the child, he drops the henchmen off the top of the roof and in to a dumper sending him in to a coma. Matt later infiltrates where the kid is being held and fist fights his way out of the building with the child in a scene so well shot that it could be considered on par with the hallway fight from the film Oldboy. The first two episodes set the tone of the series perfectly, and made it known that this is not the typical superhero adventure you’d expect from Marvel Studios.
Another great, but forgotten moment involving the Russians is an episode completely dedicated to one of the brothers being stuck inside a building with Matt as crooked cops search to kill them both. Their back and forward confrontations with each other before the mobster gains a little redemption in the end was brilliant, but lost in the greatness of The Kingpin’s story arch as it unfolded. But it makes the first season well worth rewatching to rediscover. Because aside from all of the memorable moments of the show, there were a few truly great moments that were resolved within the first season.
While the second season looks more like a traditional version of Daredevil with high flying action, the first season was more like Death Wish with the main character using his fist instead of a gun. It’s one religious man savagely pounding a criminal in to a coma with his bare knuckles while repeating “Thou shall not kill” in the back of his mind. It’s about a man that couldn’t stand to hear a little girl raped by her father for the hundred time, and deciding to take the law in to his own hands. And afterwards, realizing that the anger inside of him could be released on the guilty as long as he doesn’t take things too far. The first season of Daredevil is a game changer. But unfortunately, it wasn’t written with the hopes of a second season in mind. And it shows with some of the decisions made for the season.
Two characters that are very important to the Daredevil comics were killed off due to the series only being planned as a way to introduce Daredevil before eventually joining The Defenders cast. I’m pretty sure that if the showrunners would have known that the show could possibly return, they might have handled a few things differently. But other than that, the first season of Daredevil is still as impressive the second go around, and well worth another binge before the show’s return this Friday. So enjoy the great atmosphere and world building in the first season, and prepare for The Punisher to rage a full on assault in the second.