The 2003 feature film Daredevil (from 20th Century Fox and directed by Mark Steven Johnson) was, to put it kindly, a misguided effort. Johnson, who also wrote the script, wasted a true movie star in Ben Affleck and a rather interesting Marvel vigilante on an origin story that failed to capture the hero’s motivations or present a cohesive narrative. The film does deserve some credit, in a pre-Nolan Batman world, for trying to be dark. But one has to wonder if Mark Steven Johnson -who also wrote and directed Ghost Rider, the movie we all pretend never happened- was ever the right man for the job to begin with. Despite being a relative commercial success that spawned a spinoff (2005’s Elektra), Daredevil didn’t capitalize on the Spider-Man/X-Men momentum and push superhero movies forward as a cinematic subgenre.
Fret not, fans of Daredevil as a character. Marvel Studios, in its apparent attempt to take over the world, will now be producing Netflix series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first on tap, Marvel’s Daredevil, will have its thirteen-episode first season available for streaming on April 10th. This will be followed by series for Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist; culminating in The Defenders. There are plenty of reasons to believe that this series will reinvent the character on both a popular and creative level.
In the midst of the golden-age of television, the “showrunner” is ever-important. Marvel’s Daredevil was developed by sci-fi folk hero Drew Goddard, who also wrote the first two episodes. Goddard previously worked on Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Alias, and Lost. Then he transitioned into features, co-writing the smash-hits Cloverfield and World War Z, as well as both writing and directing the brilliant satirical horror film The Cabin in the Woods. He also wrote the screenplay for The Martian, the upcoming film from Ridley Scott starring Matt Damon. Needless to say, Goddard is certainly a talented dude.
Now, Goddard only has a heavy hand in the first few episodes, as he left the series to write and direct the Sinister Six (group of classic Spider-Man villains) for Sony Pictures. But it’s not like he handed his showrunning duties off to some slouch.
Steven S. DeKnight, who created and ran the series Spartacus as well as working on both Buffy and Angel, took over for Goddard. Judging from the trailer and press releases, the series appears to have a much darker tone than what Marvel fans have come to expect. When discussing his influences with Entertainment Weekly, DeKnight mentioned films like The French Connection and Taxi Driver rather than the typical superhero fare.
Charlie Cox, of Boardwalk Empire fame, will be playing Matt Murdock/Daredevil, a man who is blinded but grows superhuman-ability with his other senses. He works as a lawyer during the day, and kicks criminal ass at night. The main love interest, Karen Page, will be portrayed by True Blood’s Deborah Ann Woll. Classic villain Kingpin will be played by Vincent D’Onofrio. Other regulars we’ll be seeing include Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple and Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson. All of the great Daredevil characters are in tow.
Shot on location in New York City, the producers have attempted to recreate the old-time Hell’s Kitchen that is the main setting in the comics. The general premise is about the neighborhood trying to rebuild after the destruction of the city in The Avengers.
There is a lot of talent involved with Daredevil, but the fact that it’s a Netflix series should have viewers excited as well. The company’s venture into original programming has proved very fruitful. Shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black have become critically-acclaimed and wildly popular entities. Netflix executives have already said that Daredevil certainly has the potential to be a series that runs for multiple seasons.
Marvel has chance to add a gritty new character to their repertoire and conquer another medium with Daredevil. It’ll be interesting to see how this venture unfolds.
Season one of Marvel’s Daredevil will premiere with thirteen (13) one-hour episodes in 4K on April 10, 2015 at 12:01 AM PT in all territories where Netflix is available.