Okay, firstly, as far as Once upon a Time
is concerned, this week's episode settles it: we're in Heroes
season 3 territory, and I'm out of here. Regretfully, since I really loved the show and the characters, but it's always been my policy not to stick around once you derive more anger than enjoyment from a fictional source, and not to spoil things for the rest of fandom by endlessly complaining when you can rather watch something else you actually do enjoy. This announcement also isn't an invitation to bash OuaT in the comments; as I said, until relatively recently, I enjoyed the show. I'll simply regard the end of season 3 as the perfect ending (minus the tag scene); in many ways, it brought the main characters full circle since the pilot and concluded several main characters' arcs in a good way.
Secondly, I marathoned Daredevil
. Which is definitely well made, by two Jossverse veterans, Drew Goddard and Steven DeKnight, with a growing into iconic persona arc for both the hero and the main antagonist, conveying a great sense of atmosphere and place (Hell's Kitchen in New York definitely becomes a character in its own right), establishing an ensemble of interesting characters. This being said, it's also heavier on the male character side (which doesn't mean there aren't interesting women around, and one of them, Karen Page, has a great arc of her own). And yes, the pilot uses "bad guys get introduced as bad by attacking women" shorthand, though the rest of the show does equal opportunity menacing on the villains' side, and Karen being put through hell in the pilot (not via rape, I hasten to add, that's one cliché avoided throughout the season) motivates her relentless quest for the truth and to bring down the network which menaced her through the rest of the season - not in a "revenge" way, but in a "I must ensure this doesn't continue to happen to other people!" way. Let's see, what else on the negative side: while the New York depicted here is far more ethnically diverse than the one in Agent Carter
, there's just one black main character - reporter Ben Urich (who btw is white in the comics, but as with Nick Fury, the MCU changed this) - and ( spoilery observation applies )
Violence: I was very amused to read Steven DeKnight in this interview
profess amazement that people describe the show as very violent before ruefully admitting that working on Spartacus
has maybe changed his standards for this. I'd say, so, yes. Sure, compared with Spartacus
, where they lovingly slice people open in every episode, with lingering close-ups, Daredevil
isn't that violent. But that's like saying Henry VIII. was a faithful husband and lover compared with Giacomo Casanova, i.e. beside the point. I'd say the violence level is comparable to shows like The Wire
, which incidentally DeKnight names as the type of show he's going for (while admitting this is going for an incredibly high goal but better to be ambitious and failing than etc.).
Now re: my own familiarity with comics canon, I've encountered comics!Matt Murdock/Daredevil mostly in other people's comics books - he's Jessica Jones' lawyer, seems to have an on/off thing with Black Widow, and an Elizabethan version of him is a main character in Neil Gaiman's 1602
- oh, and as for the main villain onf season 1, him I encountered in The Runaways
, of all the comics - , but I absorbed enough via general pop culture osmosis to recognize the joke on decades of continuity when in the pilot Matt's best friend/partner Foggy Nelson sighs: "If there's a stunning woman of questionable character in the room, Matt Murdock is going to find her, and Foggy Nelson is going to suffer." However, in the actual on screen show Matt/ Morally Ambuiguos Women aren't yet a thing. (Though Foggy mentions "that Greek girl you liked" in college, which I take it is a reference to Elektra.) The one brief romantic connection he forms on screen during the first season is with an unquestionably heroic woman who wisely breaks it off. Instead, the main romance of the season belongs to the main villain, Wilson Fisk, the future Kingpin. (The woman in question, btw, Vanessa, is another of the interesting female characters, and she's neither a deluded innocent nor an eye-liner heavy sex goddess, which love interests of villains more often than not tend to be. Instead, she's an age-appropriate smart art gallery owner who goes into the relationship open eyed.) Who certainly qualifies as most detailed and layered of all MCU antagonists. Granted, the villains of the MCU so far haven't been that great (in the sense of being three dimensional), and the only one who became popular was Loki, but still, this version of Fisk, placed by Vincent D'Onofrio, is an impressive creation, and you can see the Wire
influence here - he has various varied relationships (not just the romance), both a close friendship with his main sidekick and rivalry-ridden antagonistic ones with his business partners/competition, we see him in his surroundings just as we see Matt Murdock in his, and like our hero, he has childhood backstory trauma and an "I must save my city" obsession, the difference being that Fisk's idea of saving comes with a lot of death first. But throughout the first season, he's definitely regarding himself as the misunderstood hero working for the greater good. ( Spoilers happen. )
"Who am I and how do I achieve what I want?" being a question of protagonist and antagonist get asked throughout.
On the relationship front, there's certainly OT3 potential with Karen, Foggy and Matt. The set up reminds me a bit of early Angel
with Cordelia, Doyle and Angel, though Matt has yet to heroically jump into the wrong car. Also, Karen's the one with the hinted at mystery in her backstory, not Foggy, who has what's today called a bromance going with Matt that should make the slashers weep with joy, especially in the episode with the flashbacks to how they met in college. (Which comes late in the season for plot reasons.) ( More spoilery observations re: Karen follow. )
There's equally OT3 potential between Fisk, Vanessa and Fisk's Faithful Lieutenant Wesley (!), until ( spoilers happen )
. Then there's the mentor/protegé type of relationship Karen and Ben Urich form. Matt also confides into a priest (one of the few things I knew about comics Daredevil was that he's a Catholic, so that didn't surprise me) and into Rosario Dawson's character for plot reasons, while Fisk has his two most entertaining relationships when it comes to fellow crime bosses with Madame Gao (heads the drug trade, old lady on the outside, but do not cross her) and the endlessly bitching Leland Owlsie (not sure about the spelling) who handles and transfers everyone's money.
Looks: definitely revels in the dark and the New York neon lights. Since Matt doesn't aquire his iconic red costume until the end of the season, and until then dresses in black for his illegal outings, this can make some of the fight scenes tricky to watch. I'm also not convinced of the brief attempts the show makes to visualize Matt's post-blinding sight, but other than that, no complaints. Also everyone, more or female, dresses professionally, i.e. like what their respective profession would make you believe they can afford and/or what's comfortable given what their job is.
Hang on, I know that actor: Rosario Dawson, obviously Vincent D'Onofrio; I thought Matt's father in the flashbacks looked like a slightly heavier Jason Dohring (Logan Echols in Veronica Mars
), but the credits tell me it wasn't him, while Fisk's father in the flashbacks was none other than Herc from The Wire
. Fisk's mother in the flashbacks looked a lot like the actress who played Amanda in Caprica
and Katniss' mother in The Hunger Games
, but I haven't checked yet whether it's the same woman. (I mean, I know Amanda and Katniss' mother are the same, just not whether she's also Fisk's mother Marlene.)
MCU continuity: Ben Urich has a couple of old articles hanging on the wall of his office, including one about the battle of New York (i.e. what happened in The Avengers
) and one about the Hulk devastating Harlem. (The Incredible Hulk
.) When Claire (Rosario Dawson's character) first talks to Matt in his not-yet-Daredevil outfit, she asks him whether he's "one of those billionaire playboys I keep hearing about", and the gentrification of Hell's Kitchen is directly tied to all the damage New York suffered through the last few movies. No Stan Lee cameo that I could spot, though. At a guess, this is set post Captain America: Winter Soldier
, since no one ever mentions SHIELD, nor do they show up during certain events. Anyway, all these are brief injokes; plot wise, nothing depends on previous MCU knowledge, and the characters in this show are all new, they haven't been anywhere else before. (Though I wouldn't be surprised if in the upcoming Jessica Jones
series, Matt Murdock does show up as he does in the comics, not as Daredevil but as Jessica's lawyer.)
All in all: impressive. I didn't fall in love with it the way I did with the more rambling but more of my favourite itches scratching Agent Carter
, but I'll certainly keep watching.
And the question remains: Steven DeKnight in the interview I linked mentioned loving Better Call Saul
. I'd say that calls for a legal crossover, Steven, wouldn't you?