The next report card is for the series premiere of Marvel's Netflix Daredevil show entitled "Into the Ring."
Daredevil Season 1 Episode 1—directed by Phil Abraham; written by Drew Goddard as well as those credited for creating the characters including Stan Lee, Bill Everett, Gene Colan, Frank Miller, Johnny Romita, and Roger McKenzie; starring Charlie Cox (Matt Murdock), Deborah Ann Woll (Karen Page), Elden Henson (Foggy Nelson), and Bob Gunton (Leslan Owlsley).
NOTE: This is only for episode 1. The following review only covers that single episode and of course, things may change for the better or worse with the rest of this season.
So far, we've only really met Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, and a smattering of some other people like The Owl and Kingpin. However, in that short time frame, a lot has been established. We know pretty much all we need to know about our titular hero and his Sancho Panza sidekick, who is definitely a solid comic relief member of the cast. Karen is a little bit bland right now, but she's shown signs of growing out of that shell very quickly, and I have faith that even by the next episode, I'll enjoy her character a lot more than I would have expected. I'm interested to see what this series does with someone like Ben Urich down the line, but actually, my favorite character so far out of the supporting cast has been Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore). He seems like a very cold villain that I hope doesn't end up being killed sometime this season. All in all, the characters are interesting so far. There's room for improvement, but I feel as though they'll get there.
I buy everyone as the characters they are portraying. Cox is making Murdock a likable guy who still has a bit of a creepy side to him, which is good. Henson's Foggy is an asshole but still lovable in a way. I don't think the true person to be wowed by has shown up yet, as I'm expecting Vincent D'Onofrio to be the standout performance as Wilson Fisk, possibly with Rosario Dawson's Claire Temple getting second place.
VISUALS (FX, MAKEUP, COSTUMES, SETS): C+
I'm not entirely sold on the visual look of this series yet. I'll admit that it is an improvement from what I thought going into this, as the footage we were shown at New York Comic Con put me in a very disappointed mood. Seeing a full episode like this made it easier to get used to it by the time that same scene happened, but I would prefer something a little more polished. While I understand that they are going for more of a gritty look, it just doesn't sit too well with me right now. That may change—and I hope it does—but if it doesn't, it will be one of my negatives about the series as a whole.
As far as costumes, sets, and makeup go, those are all perfectly fine. Obviously, it isn't as difficult to pull off a costume as generic as what Daredevil uses in this episode compared to the red suit we're all familiar with, or even the yellow suit for that matter. Most things in general are tame with some basic sets that don't have all that much going on to worry about, but I'm fine with this. It's Hell's Kitchen, after all, not the grandiose stage we'd see The Avengers fighting on.
MUSIC & SOUND: C–
I'm trying to remain optimistic about this, but there's nothing memorable so far. There's no theme song that I can hum, and I'm not craving the score like I do with some films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier or The Avengers. Now, I would have been foolish to equate this to something like Guardians of the Galaxy in terms of music, but something a little more than what I refer to as "drums and hums"—the most basic of mood music to supplement the visuals—would be nice.
The sound is something that I have no real thoughts on yet. It doesn't stand out in a positive or negative way in any sort of fashion, so a middle of the road score sounds justified to me.
TONE (ACTION, ROMANCE, COMEDY): A–
Daredevil is a darker comic in a lot of ways than what we've seen so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Because of that, there's a different balance of these tonal pieces than what you would see in something like Thor.
ACTION: The action is rough and you feel it. The "street level" aspect shines very well here to show the audience that people aren't going to be punched through walls and getting right back up. Matt Murdock and his enemies are normal people. When they get kicked in the face, it's going to hurt like a son of a bitch.
COMEDY: A little more comedy couldn't hurt, but I understand why there was so little in this first episode. Once they've firmly established that this is not on the same level as Iron Man, they can throw some more jokes in there to break the tension.
ROMANCE: I'm assuming Karen Page is going to be the sole love interest for Matt this season, and I'm okay with that. There's some flirtation there that I wouldn't mind seeing develop into a stronger bond down the line. It isn't overboard and hopefully it doesn't become that way, but I would miss it if there wasn't at least some kind of a romantic subplot.
FINAL GRADE: B
I'm not blown away just yet, but I have a feeling I will be once I'm done this season. There's room for improvement in multiple different ways, including the visuals and the character development. For a premiere episode, though, I'm impressed much more than I had thought I would be, as my reaction to the sneak peek was on the pessimistic side. There's plenty of time to fully win me over with the rest of the episodes, and if I can enjoy them all as much as I enjoyed this one, then you should look out for a solid endorsement on my part for Marvel's latest venture.