Marvel's Thanos-esque march towards world domination steps up a gear today with the release on Netflix of a grungy new adaptation of the Daredevil comic strip. Don't worry – this take on the tortured New York crime-fighter is an Ben Affleck-free zone, with British actor Charlie Cox instead squeezing into the character's iconic crimson jumpsuit.
ne of the darkest superhero shows yet, Daredevil nominally inhabits the same timeline as Avengers and Agents of SHIELD – the story picks up several years after the destruction of vast swathes of Midtown Manhattan in the first Avengers movie. However, the tone is much bleaker, the violence (ironically) far less cartoonish.
This is terrific news for Marvel aficionados, who have long hankered for a Daredevil true to the frequently bleak source material. For the rest of us, here are ten reasons to check it out.
1: It Looks Fantastic.
It's no coincidence that Daredevil has debuted on Netflix. Visually, the show is considerably starker than anything mainstream US television would ever countenance. Aesthetically, in fact, it has a lot in common with Netflix's biggest hit, House of Cards, with shadows pooled in every corner and the streets basking in a perpetual neon glare.
2: You Don't Have To Be A Comic Book Geek To Enjoy It.
One of the major influences on Daredevil was The Wire – a police procedural doubling as an indictment of institutional decline in the United States. Obviously, Netflix has no interest in drilling so deep into the American psyche. Nonetheless, Daredevil isn't afraid to delve into the nitty gritty – an early story arc, for instance, involves regulatory fraud by property developers. We don't recall book-keeping sleight of hand ever coming up for discussion on Agents of SHIELD.
3: Charlie Cox is a great Daredevil.
The British actor is perfect as Matt Murdock a blind lawyer struggling with daddy issues (his father was a successful boxer who went into terrible decline upon retirement). A look of perpetual grumpiness on his face, he is striking plausible as a man driven to dressing up at night and kicking lumps out of random bad-guys.
4: The rest of the cast is fantastic too.
It's got Rosario Dawson as a nurse who becomes Daredevil's Alfred the Butler: the person he knows he can turn to when all else fails. Also, she's good at stitching wounds – which comes in handy as….
5: Daredevil is incredibly bloody.
The series' most striking feature is its realistic violence. There are no Batman style bams! and pows! Every kick and punch looks like it hurts. Far from a cheap shock tactic, such authenticity raises the stakes. When Daredevil finds himself trapped in a corridor with three hoodlums, you worry that he may be in genuine jeopardy.
6: It has a compelling back story.
Aged nine, Matt Murdock is blinded by a toxic chemical spill. His father teaches him to develop his other senses, even as Murdock Snr struggles to adjust to life after his boxing career. It's heart rending stuff – a rare origin story you can truly bring yourself to care about.
7: The costume is GREAT.
With its hyper-realistic gloss, Daredevil could easily have ended up kicking itself in the shins. After all, a superhero show set in what is recognisably the real world runs the risk of coming across unintentionally silly. But Daredevil's costume fits perfectly with the sensibility – he doesn't look like a Cosplayer who escaped from the convention centre. He is a guy who might very well kick your ass if you catch his gaze at the wrong moment.
8: There WILL be an Agents of SHIELD cross-over.
Stylistically, SHIELD and Daredevil inhabit utterly distinct universes. Nonetheless, it has been unofficially confirmed Marvel's small-screen franchises will intersect in the future.
9: It Makes You Think Again About The Avengers.
So the Avengers swooped in, saved Manhattan – and left a smoking pile of rubble in their wake. Daredevil is about what happens after the heroes pack up and go home. The ruined city is sinking into lawlessness and corruption – and where is Tony Stark? Swapping wise-cracks with Pepper Potts probably. For a super-hero show, this is deep stuff.
10: Did we mention? It’s an Affleck Free Zone.
Just to be clear – there is no Ben Affleck. Repeat, no Ben Affleck.
Daredevil is on Neflix now.