Netflix’s Daredevil is the best live-action comic book adaptation I’ve ever seen, either on film or on TV. It’s better than 1978’s Superman, better than The Dark Knight, better than Guardians of the Galaxy, better than … well, you get the idea. (I had to add that “live-action” descriptor, because Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series are both perfect.)
Of course, it’s likely that this opinion is at least partly due to my love of the Daredevil character. So many phenomenal writers and artists have worked on Daredevil comics over the years, and as I obsessively read all of them several years ago, I realized just how incredible of a hero ol’ DD truly is. So in a way, I already loved Daredevil before the Netflix show even debuted; it had to be better than that terrible movie, I thought, even if Boardwalk Empire’s Charlie Cox seemed like a strange casting decision when his name was first announced.
Then the show finally came out, and it was a minor miracle. The creators somehow managed to get everything right about Daredevil, Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, and Karen Page. Even the show’s take on Wilson Fisk—the unstoppable Kingpin himself—worked beautifully, with Fisk intimidating his foes without even entering a room. (Heck, they even nailed the Gladiator, of all people! Poor Melvin …)
Perhaps the single best idea they had when putting together Daredevil was the decision to rely heavily on the influence of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev’s run on the comic, which lasted several years and took the character to smart, fascinating new places.
The influence of Bendis and Maleev can be seen all over the TV show, from the long courtroom scenes to the quiet, tender moments between Fisk and the love of his life, Vanessa. The place where I noticed that influence the most, however, was in the way Daredevil seemed to focus on the real-life consequences of its characters’ actions. When we spend five minutes watching Murdoch clean his wounds from the previous night’s combat, that’s the same level of detail Bendis and Maleev provided on a regular basis.
Something else I love about Daredevil as a show is that it’s patient. I was a little worried when it was announced that Frank Castle, the Punisher himself, was going to be a part of the second season. The Punisher can be entertaining and all, but he’s never been all that emotionally complex; could he really exist in the same universe as the show’s other fully-formed, completely believable characters?
It turned out, of course, I had nothing to worry about; Jon Bernthal was a perfect Castle, and I loved how he didn’t just show up on day one wearing a shirt with a giant skull on it. They slowly worked toward his uniform, just as they had with Daredevil’s in the first season, and by the time he actually had the skull on his chest, it became something that was actually believable.
What’s even crazier than the quality of Daredevil is that we’ve also had a mostly excellent Jessica Jones show, with one based on Luke Cage and another about Iron Fist not too far behind. Netflix is flat-out killing it right now!
Iron Fist has me especially excited—he’s been one of my all-time favorite Marvel characters for years, and the fact that such a minor character will soon have his own Netflix TV show just absolutely blows my mind. I’m not even nervous at this point! I have full confidence that the show will work.
I’m not exactly sure what made me sit and write all of this, but if anyone out there enjoys the Daredevil TV show even a fraction as much as I do, I do recommend you check out some of the comic book source material. Other than Batman and maaaaaaaaybe the X-Men, Daredevil has more fascinating comic storylines written about him than any other mainstream superhero. And unlike Batman and the X-Men, the continuity is fairly easy to follow.
But, I’m curious … what does everyone else think? Am I crazy here? Because I don’t feel crazy. I feel right. Daredevil is an incredible character with an interesting history, and Netflix’s Daredevil TV series is most definitely the greatest live-action comic book adaptation of all time.