At some point in time an executive at ABC Studios said, “I think Daredevil would be perfect for Netflix.” That man or woman should be given a raise, because all 13 episodes of the show’s first season come together to form an incredibly entertaining product. Charlie Cox in the starring role does a commendable job as Matt Murdock, and most of his supporting cast delivers solid performances (particularly Vondie Curtis-Hall as Ben Urich).
One of the best scenes that sums up what Daredevil is all about involves courtroom closing arguments in the third episode. Matt and his law partner, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), must give an honest defense for a dubious client.
Mr. Murdock says:
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, forgive me if I seem distracted. I’ve been preoccupied as of late with questions of morality. Of right and wrong, good and evil. Sometimes the delineation between the two is a sharp line. Sometimes it’s a blur. And often it’s like pornography — you just know it when you see it.
A man is dead. I don’t mean to make light of that. But these questions — these questions — are vital because they tether us to each other, to humanity. Not everyone feels this way. Not everyone sees the sharp line, only the blur. A man is dead. A man is dead, and my client, John Healy, took his life. This is not in dispute. It is a matter of record. Of fact. And facts have no moral judgment. They merely state what is. Not what we think of them. Not what we feel. They just are. What was in my client’s heart when he took Mr. Prohaszka’s life — whether he is a good man or something else entirely — is irrelevant. These questions of good and evil, as important as they are, have no place in a court of law. Only the facts matter.
My client claimed he acted in self defense. Mr. Prohaszka’s associates have refused to make a statement regarding the incident. The only other witness, a frightened young woman, has stated that my client was pleasant and friendly, and that she only saw the struggle with Mr. Prohaszka after it had started. Those are the facts. Based on these — and these alone — the prosecution has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that my client wasn’t acting solely in self-defense. And those, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, are the facts. My client, based purely on the sanctity of the law, which we’ve all sworn to uphold, must be acquitted of these charges. Now, beyond that, beyond these walls, he may well face a judgment of his own making. But here, in this courtroom, the judgment is yours and yours alone.” — Daredevil: Episode 3: Rabbit in a Snowstorm.
The fascinating thing about Daredevil is that each character has their own cross to bear, and over the course of the first season viewers get to see how they stumble, fall, get back up again, and continue moving forward while trying to find the righteous path. For Matt that means figuring out how to bring criminals to justice when the system designed to do just that has been corrupted.
Matt Murdock is aided in that task by his Catholicism and a priest he speaks to for guidance. He even jokes with Claire during an exchange in “Cut Man” from Episode 2:
Claire: I find a guy in a dumpster who turns out to be some kind of blind vigilante who can do all sorts of weird shit — like smell cologne through walls and sense whether someone is unconscious or faking it. Slap on top of that he can take an unbelievable amount of punishment without one damn complaint.
Matt Murdock: That last part is the Catholicism.
Daredevil’s writers strike a fine balance throughout the season in terms of addressing Murdock’s faith. It is very much a part of who he is, but it never becomes preachy, nor is it denigrated. This is a welcome surprise; covering themes found in Hubert Van Zeller’s “Suffering, The Cross of Christ and Its Meaning For You,” will only make Daredevil a better show.
While Mr. Murdock draws strength from his spirituality, it is also stressed that all of us need friends and family to lean on in tough times. The crosses we carry can be heavy, and the body is often weak. Without trusted allies, many of us would not be long in this world.
Matt delivers this message during Episode 11’s “The Ones We Leave Behind.”:
Matt Murdock: I had a really shitty night. The kind where you think you’ve seen the bottom of humanity, but the pit keeps on getting deeper. You know? I can’t do this alone. I can’t. I can’t take another step.
Karen: You’re not alone. You never were.
In short, Daredevil is a great fusion of crime drama and superhero fare. If you have Netflix, then it’s worth checking out. If you don’t have Netflix, then you may want to consider getting it when Daredevil’s second season arrives.