Netflix’s Daredevil should be like Arrow, not Agents Of SHIELD

6 things Daredevil fans want from Drew Goddard’s Marvel series for Netflix

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With The Cabin In the Woods director Drew Goddard helming Daredevil’s 13-episode Netflix original series for Marvel Television, here are the six all-important things we want to see to keep this show fresh, thrilling and fan-friendly.

Daredevil prowls the skyline in one of Frank Miller's earliest issues, Daredevil #159 (1979)
Daredevil prowls the skyline in one of Frank Miller’s earliest issues, Daredevil #159 (1979)

1. TAKE US TO THE STREETS

Marvel’s Daredevil, like DC’s Batman, with who he’s often compared (especially as Ben Affleck has the temerity to play them both), has entertained a variety of styles of storytelling and tone from the wildest Silver Age weirdness to primary coloured campness, and like DC’s Batman he’s become dominated by one: the dark and gritty Frank Miller-era that found its contemporary equal in the Brian Michael Bendis/Alex Maleev-era of gargoyles, rain and Catholic guilt.

Daredevil as a character can be light and the can be fun (Mark Waid’s recent run on the book was divine) – this take is no less valid than Holy Camp Batman – but the Marvel Cinematic Universe already has these things in Avengers Assemble and Iron Man. To make an impact, Netflix’s Daredevil series needs to take us into the territory DC own with The Dark Knight and Arrow and challenge them for the urban vigilante crown.

In short, we want superbly choreographed violence in the mean streets – a taut crime thriller with a secret identity, more like Joe Carnahan’s proposed Daredevil reboot than anything we’ve seen so far from Marvel Studios.

Daredevil and the Kingpin strike a deal on the cover of Daredevil #117 (2009), art by Marko Djurdjevic
The Kingpin strikes a deal on the cover of Daredevil #117 (2009) by Marko Djurdjevic

2. GIVE US THE KINGPIN

Similarly, lay off the costumed supervillains for the time being, learn from The CW’s Arrow and not ABC’s over-budgeted and over-thought brand synergy infomercial Agents Of SHIELD.

Obviously, fans want to see Elektra and Bullseye, and they should get that eventually, but Daredevil’s nemesis should always be the Kingpin, Wilson Fisk – a man-mountain crime boss that can’t be punched out of the equation, offering up threats and challenges to sustain Daredevil across an entire 13-episode run.

Another lesson worth taking from Arrow: don’t introduce a badass like Deadshot and then  take him out with one puch. Build up to characters like Bullseye, The Owl and Typhoid Mary; don’t just squirt them into the show for the sake of some easy fan-service.

Matt Murdock wakes in a hospital bed in his classic origin story, written and drawn by creator Bill Everette in Daredevil #1 (1964)
A scene from the classic origin story by creator Bill Everett in Daredevil #1 (1964)

3. DON’T MAKE US SIT THROUGH HIS ORIGIN STORY

The pace-killing albatross of the superhero adaptation, we absolutely don’t need to see Daredevil’s origin story in its totality. Don’t info-dump the whole thing in the pilot; tease it out like Batman Begins as it becomes relevant, but at the same time don’t make it such a constantly overwhelming presence as Oliver Queen’s island exile in Arrow.

If we follow Daredevil at the beginning of his career – literally months or weeks since he pulled on the horns – then we can experience the things that matter as they happen. Netflix’s Daredevil series should be Daredevil: Year One, not Netflix Origins: Daredevil.

Besides, the more attention you draw to the standard superhero origin story, the more attention you’re drawing to how contrived it all is. Try telling someone:

“There’s this new show, it’s about a blind ninja superhero. When he was a kid, he saved an old man from stepping out in front of a truck and got a bucket of toxic waste in the eyes, which instead of giving him cancer, blinded him but left him with radar sense. His dad was a boxer, and instead of throwing a fight, he decided to try and win to make his son proud, so he was killed, and now the son is a lawyer who was trained by an old blind ninja to use his radar sense to fight crime in the seedy underbelly of New York.”

Yeah, they won’t watch it, and Marvel Studios would have been proved right when they said it “wasn’t popular enough for a film.”

Daredevil is trained by Stick in Frank Miller's Daredevil #177 (1981)
Daredevil is trained by Stick in Frank Miller’s Daredevil #177 (1981)

4. EXPLORE THE HAND

So far all we’ve really said about Netflix’s Daredevil series seems to be “Make it more like The Dark Knight or Arrow“, but the real key to Daredevil’s success would be what sets it apart from those two kick-ass franchises as well.

Daredevil has always been linked to the deadly Hand ninja clan and his blind mentor Stick, which was a huge part of the comic in the Eighties and Nineties, although Stick especially seems to have fallen out of favour with writers. It was a world that only a handful of other characters were ever privy too, and one that made many Daredevil story arcs utterly unique to him without Spider-Man swinging past and sticking his head in.

Presumably the rights to these characters – all used in 2005′s excretably bad Elektra movie – reverted along with Daredevil to Marvel Studios, and the mysticism of the Hand and the possible subplots Stick can offer as a more ambiguously intentioned mentor will give the Daredevil series something we haven’t really seen explored in much detail in big or small screen superheroics. Also, it will neatly counter-balance the organised crime angle offered by the Kingpin.

Matt Murdock confronts a crooked judge in Daredevil #29 (2011)
Matt Murdock confronts a crooked judge in Daredevil #29 (2011)

5. LET HIM BE A LAWYER

Sure, Matt Murdock gets to enjoy some courtroom hijinx with Coolio in the Director’s Cut of 2003′s not-quite-as-shit-as-you-remember-it-but-still-not-great Daredevil film, but it’s not exactly A Few Good Men or JFK, is it?

Obviously, we don’t want huge chunks of tedious legal procedural, but there’s definitely scope for some courtroom melodrama, tense back-and-forth and forensic interrogation, aided by the thump-thump-thump of panicked heartbeats. They could even deal with his secret identity becoming public and the legal repercussions of that, inspired by Bendis and Maleev’s masterful run that still echoes throughout Daredevil comics.

As with the Hand scenario, there are certain stories that can only be told with Daredevil, and that’s what’ll make the Netflix series a success.

Punisher: Trial of the Punisher #2, art by Leinil Francis Yu.
Punisher: Trial of the Punisher #2, art by Leinil Francis Yu.

6. TEASE THE PUNISHER

Pure fan-pleasing, but now The Punisher rights are back with Marvel, Netflix should tease Frank Castle in there. Not go overboard, but give us a little glimpse of him – a sign that he could be back, dispensing ultra-violent gunishment on crime.

The character’s always been at his best when he appears in Daredevil books (such as Bendis and Maleev’s The Devil Inside And Out arc) so show skull graffiti on walls, brief mentions on news reports, notices in the background of police stations… based on Dirty Laundry alone, it’s worth getting Thomas Jane back to reprise the role for a cameo.

I hope you got all that Drew Goddard. Now make us proud.

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