This article was originally published to The Edge on 23rd August 2015
If you read our review, you’ll know that, at The Edge, we actually liked Daredevil. With excellent casting, enjoyable dialogue, and a pleasingly noir-y tone, it carved out a niche in the superhero market. At the very least it made us forget the (not great) film of 2003.
However, we weren’t without reservations, and as part of our ‘How To Fix’ series, one writer undertook an epic and patient re-watch of the show to uncover what needs to change.
1) Make It Shorter
The show’s creators made something almost exclusively designed for a binge-watch. Playing the season back an episode at a time, it’s uncanny how much it can drag. By the last few episodes, they’re nearly an hour long. Either make sure that each one clocks in at 45 minutes, or cut at least two episodes from it. That way, the show will be streamlined, and won’t be a chore to finish.
2) No seriously, MAKE IT SHORTER
This is the show’s biggest structural problem: because it is a noir with lawyers and businessmen, there are loads of dialogue scenes. Yet time after time these stretch on for unnecessary periods, because characters discuss information that has nothing to do with the plot every single time, making scenes drag unbelievably. The only time that Daredevil uses this to its advantage, is in when Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) kills Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall). It works because we can all tell that Ben is going to die right from the start of the scene, so drawing out the discussion through increasingly tense topics really works. Out of 13 episodes, there is ONE dialogue driven scene that works 100%.
3) Increase everyone’s role except D’Onofrio.
D’Onofrio’s Fisk was probably the best and most interesting character in Daredevil. However, his character’s in prison now. Keep him there until The Defenders arrives in a few years. Because do you know who else was brilliant in the show? Literally everyone else. By the end, the characters who didn’t work at the start (Foggy and Karen) had found their groove. Claire Temple isn’t dead, so bring her back in as many episodes as possible, because it’s Rosario Dawson and she is amazing. Finally, Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock is the show’s true MVP. These actors are great, and now that the dynamics have settled, it’s exciting to be able to see them interact more naturally.
4) More Cases for Nelson & Murdock
The courtroom drama element of the show was brilliant, no more so than in Episode 3. Matt’s monologue to the Jury was brilliantly written and played, like the reverse of the lesson of 12 Angry Men. More cases and more time in the courtroom, will be welcomed. Getting the balance between this and the vigilantism will be challenging, but it can’t get any worse.
5) Balance clarity and mystery better
When our heroes were investigating Fisk towards the middle of the season, it didn’t matter to us in the slightest because we already knew what they didn’t, thanks to the scenes with the villains. Meanwhile Matt, as Daredevil, knows most of it, but just doesn’t have the evidence. What we’re left with are discussions about construction companies, money being exchanged and minor revelations that we already knew. It was incredibly dull. On the flipside, there was no understanding of why Fisk’s end game (essentially gentrification) was really bad, only that his methods were less than wholesome. Hopefully, with the second season focusing on the Punisher (or Frank Castle, played by Jon Bernthal), the fact that what he does is awful will be more obvious.
6) Use the New York City location more and better
Because so much of the show took place in alleyways and offices, you didn’t really get a sense of New York City. The few times that it moved onto open streets, over buildings, or used birds-eye views of the city, the positive effect was instantaneous. Use that location, and make us believe this is a real world.
7) Up the superhero ante
Scrap the new costume for a newer costume –turn it into a light-looking red suit, with the logo and the classic baton weapon that allows him to swing and fight like a ninja version of Spider-Man. Get Daredevilsome memorable theme music. Show him using his powers to investigate more frequently. Finally cut out all slow-motion from the fight sequences. Make it fast and fluid. Netflix have the budget and lack of restraint to make the action on par with The Raid, and on several occasions in season one, that approach was present. Now that Matt knows what he’s doing, let’s see him kick an unreserved amount of ass. More moves like the insane two-footed backflip kick delivered to a henchman in the 13th episode, and less of the nimble but completely inefficient attacks against Nobu in the 9th.
8) Let the show join the MCU
Glib references to iron suits and magic hammers are glib. Instead, fit the Avengers tower into a shot of the city. Let there be discussion of the morals of what Matt does, compared to the world-saving but incredibly dangerous antics of the Avengers. Expand it: connect his adventures with those of Jessica Jones and the actual invincible superhero Luke Cage. In the seventh episode of the show, we were teased about The Hand (a mystical ninja group), some evil called “Black Sky”, and a warning about “the gates opening”. This is all desperately needed to increase the individuality of these shows, so expand upon it! Too much grit, and it becomes a procedural Dark Knight. Too much magic and flying hammer men, it becomes just another MCU film. Get this balance (and a whole lot others) right, and the second season will be something truly Marvellous.
Marvel’s Daredevil is available to watch on Netflix.