Trailers@24 Panels: DAREDEVIL (2015)

Here at 24 Panels, we like to give each new comic book movie trailer the roundtable treatment. This time, we are taking a look at the teaser trailer for Marvel Studios/Netflix’s new series Daredevil, from writer/producer Steven S. DeKnight (Spartacus).

DAVE: Without question, Netflix’s Daredevil series is the 2015 Marvel project I have been most interested by (sorry, Age of Ultron and Ant-Man). The character is one of my favourites from the House of Ideas, if not THE favourite, and after the botched job that was the 2003 Daredevil film, I have been eagerly awaiting a project that would get the character right onscreen.

So does the Netflix series look like it is going to hit the mark? Based on this trailer, I’d at least be willing to say that they are on the right track. As one could safely expect,  the show is clearly drawing from the darker runs on the character by the likes of Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis, and Ed Brubaker. In particular, the general story arc of the series seems to be adapted from Miller’s Man Without Fear mini-series, which looks at the early life of Matt Murdock (Daredevil) and his struggles with his darker impulses. Certainly, Matt’s (Charlie Cox) costume in this trailer is derived from Man Without Fear (though for the record, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk beat Miller to the idea by four years). Charlie Cox seems to have the appropriate look and voice for the character, though the trailer doesn’t give much sense of his performance given its focus on establishing and selling the tone of the series.

One touch I do dig is how the trailer is drawing attention to the audio design for the series. Again, it is rather hard to get a sense of how it will play in the show proper, but clearly some effort has been put into playing with the sound in order to represent the cacophony Matt puts up with daily, which is reinforced on a visual level as well. Noticeably, though, no shots of Matt’s “radar sense” have been included in this trailer, an effect I am most interested in seeing. For all the things the 2003 Daredevil film got wrong, his radar sense was one of the few things it managed to get right, and I hope that the series manages to find a way to pull off something equally interesting while still being budget friendly.

I do have concerns though. While it is appropriate that Daredevil be a darker show than the rest of what Marvel has produced thus far, I hope this doesn’t mean that the show will be without some sense of fun. As much as I love the character, I abandoned the title for a while midway through Brubaker’s run because of how needlessly bleak the whole thing became. While the series doesn’t need to be as cheerful as the current Mark Waid run on the Daredevil title has been (though I would watch that show in a heartbeat), I certainly don’t want this series to be the “Matt Murdock Misery Hour” every episode. Likewise, the Daredevil comics have a long and uncomfortable streak of brutalizing the female supporting cast in an effort to pile the hurt on Matt as a character. Hopefully, the series manages to find a way to either do away with this stale and rather misogynistic trope or at least find a way to tone it down, though a few of the shots of who I assume is Karen Page give me pause.

What about you, Dru? What is your reaction to this trailer?

DRU: “The Matt Murdock Misery Hour.” That’s got a ring to it! #MMMH

I’ve been excited for Netflix’s Daredevil as well—not more so than for Age of Ultron, but still—and this trailer leaves me feeling a bit ambivalent: no more or less excited than I already was. I wasn’t actually expecting something that’s such a radical departure from the established tone of the MCU, but the more I think about it, the more I’m glad they’re going this route. As a character, Daredevil’s best stories (though it should be noted that I’m by no means caught up with his recent adventures) have done the “dark and gritty” thing better than comparable characters like Batman. Perhaps it’s too much to hope that Netflix’s Daredevil will get right was Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy got wrong, but not shying away from the consequences of violence—love that last shot of the blood dripping out of Matt’s mouth, and the ersatz stitching on his left arm as he walks down that hallway—is a great start. But to paraphrase what you said, Dave, this trailer doesn’t tell us that they’ve gotten it right, but it gives us hope that they haven’t gotten it wrong.

That said, the more I watch this trailer, the more I like it and the more promise I see in it. Unlike you, I think that the “radar sense” being done with simple in-camera effects is great (I always thought that “spider-sense” should have been done with the Vertigo dolly/zoom effect instead of bullet-time.) It’s a welcome alternative to the garbled CGI that was used in the 2003 film: it’s cleaner, more effective, and cheaper to boot. Win-win-win. If anything, I think that this trailer should have done more to distinguish itself from the movie. For all of its faults, Mark Steven Johnson’s Daredevil was incredibly faithful to the comics—to the letter if not the spirit—so this may be a matter of doing the same thing but with better execution. The ninja costume, compared to Ben Affleck’s red leather (no yellow leather) is the other main difference. I’m starting to dig it, though I’m assuming that he’ll abandon it for something sturdier and more protective after a few episodes, since this thing looks to tear like paper. It’s a fair deduction that this trailer only features footage from the first couple of episodes, so there’s lots of surprises left to be revealed on April 10.

So I ask you, Hrivvy, what elements of the 2003 film do you hope are retained, jettisoned, and/or improved upon?

JAMES: Next to Spider-Man, Daredevil is my favourite Marvel character, and unlike the rest of the world, I’ll defend Mark Steven Johnson’s Daredevil (to an extent—the film hasn’t aged all that well). So, I have been quite anticipating a new on-screen incarnation of the defender of Hell’s Kitchen for quite some time. What strikes me the most about this trailer is how much is really looks like that 2003 film. Not in terms of costume or narrative trappings, but the colour palette. It’s awash in inky blacks and golden tones, which easily recall that version that was so hated. Perhaps it’s just part and parcel with the character, hard to say. But it’s still a curious choice. Also, some of the dialogue rings pretty close too, no?

I’ll echo earlier statements: this thing does seem pretty dour, and I’d still watch #MMMH through, but I would like to see the character take on a less serious tone. But for all we know, the trailer could be cobbled together from the pilot only. Also, no Marvel property has been an out-right  miseryfest, so I’m almost certain it will come with moments of levity.

I’m also glad that Daredevil is getting a long-form serialized format because Matt Murdock’s lawyering day job perfectly lends itself to the episodic format (legal shows are still successful, right?), plus you can get some clever plotting out of parallel cases in and out of court and an overarching plotline—I’m thinking of something along the lines of Veronica Mars here. Come April 10, though, I’ll be carving out a good chunk of time to wade through and digest it. But honestly, I was sold with the line “I’m just trying to make my city a better place.”

The first season of Daredevil hits Netflix in its entirety on April 10, 2015.


Dave is the co-host of 24 Panels Per Second.

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