Netflix's 'Daredevil': What the Critics Are Saying

Marvel
'Daredevil'

Steven S. DeKnight's Marvel adaptation stars Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Rosario Dawson and Vincent D'Onofrio and kicks off the company's superhero slate.

On Friday, Netflix is unveiling all 13 episodes of Marvel’s Daredevil, starring Boardwalk Empire breakout Charlie Cox as the blind lawyer-turned-superhero, Matt Murdock.

Executive produced by Steven S. DeKnight (Spartacus), the show also features Deborah Ann Woll, Rosario Dawson, Toby Leonard Moore, Bob Gunton, Ayelet Zurer, Elden Henson, Vincent D'Onofrio, Scott Glenn and Vondie Curtis-Hall. It is the first of five live-action superhero shows coming to Netflix, with Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders on the way.

See what top critics are saying about Daredevil:

The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman says, "As the Marvel comics push farther into the world of television, one thing is becoming very clear: Their brand of entertainment works better as escapist movie fare. ... Because it's on Netflix, it has the capacity to be something greater, untethered to ratings. But ultimately it's very purple in its prose, yearning to be film noir, but — lacking the writing or grit to achieve that — playing more like hokey blood porn. ... Daredevil can be entertaining as hell in parts, but it's almost shockingly grotesque in its depiction of violence, and yet it finds no irony or credible defense for its most glaring weakness — that Daredevil himself is just a blind man who is really good at close-quarter fighting, but who, realistically, would be shot dead within the first 30 seconds of any encounter he had with real bad guys."

Since Cox "is perfectly cast here. He's likable, a fine actor who can persuasively pull off" the character's interactions, "Daredevil can certainly be watchable, if not believable. ... Maybe that's how this show should be judged — as pure pulp fun. Just because it's on Netflix doesn't automatically give it a high-end cable-like pedigree. At best, it's a thrilling comic book come to life. But you still have to be willing to overlook the fact that Daredevil wants to be hyper-stylized in that Sin City-meets-300 kind of way, but even then the desensitized violence splattered across the screen doesn't jibe with its '60s-era Batman emphasis on fistfights over guns. Marvel fanboys and fangirls will probably love it, but if you've never seen Banshee, try that first."

The New York Times' Mike Hale explains, "To a greater degree than in previous Netflix series, Goddard and DeKnight have taken account of binge viewing in structuring their narrative. Where traditional television comic-book adaptations feel the need to account for their hero’s powers and introduce his central adversary quickly, Marvel’s Daredevil takes its time. ... This willingness to delay our narrative gratification is a pleasant change from the norm, but it reflects a pace that could be charitably described as leisurely. ... It’s just that too much of the story feels indistinct, like disconnected chunks of a much-better-than-average cop show. I found myself waiting for the fight scenes, which tend to go on too long but are often interesting to look at." Woll and Dawson are "both excellent," while Cox is "good as the sensitive Murdock" but "he doesn’t make you feel the harshness and brutality that emerge in Daredevil, ... [but] that could change."

The Washington Post's David Betancourt notes, "You won’t need but a few episodes to see how much the show gets right, including the decision to film in New York. Daredevil has a gritty realism that Marvel’s feature films generally don’t even have. ... Daredevil is a first-pitch home run. Yet Daredevil shouldn’t be overly compared to what Marvel has aired on TV, because the Netflix show smartly exploits being free of broadcast limits." Cox "utterly embodies the role" and "when the devil is on display, the actor especially shines. From the outset as a crimefighter, Cox is almost ninja-like."

RogerEbert.com's Brian Tallerico calls it a "surprisingly engaging adaptation ... an intelligent, well-crafted drama series that may be a little thin on actual action for those expecting the CGI orgies associated with the modern Marvel logo but contains the nuance and character that has been missing from most of those blockbusters. ... The premiere is strikingly confident, filmed like a theatrical offering more than a TV show. And one never gets the sense that the show is targeting teens like the CW offerings, taking time to really be a crime procedural as much as a superhero show."

Daredevil hits Netflix on April 10.

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