Captain Marvel: A Conversion Story (And A Movie Spoiler-Free Review)

Higher. Further. Faster.

This movie is worth the hype. Even though the marketing behind this movie was a bit on the pushy side, causing a lot of political controversy, I am gonna be judging this movie on its own merits.

When I first saw this trailer, I knew this movie would have me the moment that Captain Marvel fell through the roof of a Blockbuster. What I didn’t expect was that this movie was actually a conversion story a la Saint Paul.

Hear me out.

Saint Paul started out fighting on the wrong side of things. Back when he went by the name of Saul, he took his hatred of Christians to the extreme, going on missions to kill innocent people. Those who’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy and Agents of SHIELD know that the Kree are a bunch of radicals bent on galactic domination and kill anything and everything that won’t bow down to their will. The problem is that the Kree have brainwashed Captain Marvel into becoming their personal living weapon.

When Captain Marvel ends up on Earth, she starts to learn the truth about her past and about the Kree. Once she reconnects with who she really is, she starts fighting for the right side, just like how Paul (once the Truth was revealed to him) became a missionary for Christ.

There are so many wonderful moments I loved in this movie. The first thing I’ll mention are the two, yes two tributes to Stan Lee. Right at the beginning, as the Marvel Logo played, I watched a montage of Stan Lee’s cameos playing in the letters. I started tearing up and the movie didn’t even start yet. Later on, Captain Marvel smiles at Stan Lee as he’s memorizing his lines for the Kevin Smith movie Mallrats. Even though I know Stan Lee didn’t really have a hand in creating Captain Marvel, the captain’s smile was heartwarming as she chose not to smile for a catcaller on a motorbike.

I also loved seeing a softer side to Nick Fury. Some people were complaining about Fury not being his usual badass self. I would like to remind everyone that some of the most popular moments in the MCU were the moments when the heroes were cutting loose. Think of the scene where all the Avengers were playing with Thor’s hammer in Age of Ultron or the cute Homecoming prep montage in Spider-Man Homecoming. We do not get enough moments of the heroes being chill. Also, Goose is the real star of the movie. Nuff said.

One other thing I loved was all the 90s aesthetic. I was born in 1990, so I count myself as a 90s kid. My ears perked up every time I recognized a song from my childhood and in a lot of ways, Captain Marvel reminds me of Buffy, too.

So speaking of feminist heroes, I will address the political aspect of this movie. In my honest opinion, the feminism was done just right. Not all the men in this movie were evil or condescending to Captain Marvel. In fact, Fury basically becomes a “buddy cop” with Carol. The sexism Carol experienced in her past felt realistic. After all, the US Air Force, at the moment, is only 20% women. Best of all, the movie held its own without the need for a forced romantic subplot. (Although if Avengers Endgame follows the comics and shows some ship tease with Captain Marvel and Rhodey, I am more than ready to ship it!)

Basically, I’m saying that politics aside, this movie is amazing. Whatever issues I have with the movie are spoiler-related minor nitpicks at best. I cannot wait to see Captain Marvel and the Avengers kick Thanos’s ass in April.

But I’m still not ready for it, okay?!

Avengers: Infinity War―Where Do We Go From Here?

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This movie broke me. I’m not the kind of girl who cries at the movies. Heck, I haven’t cried at the movies since Les Miserables and then this movie comes along and gets me bawling by the time the end credits are rolling. This movie is not for the faint of heart and no matter how much you prepare yourself, you will not be ready for what’s to come. All I can say is that if it wasn’t for the fact that I know there will be sequels planned for this movie and for some of the characters, I would be inconsolable.

That’s not to say that this movie is bad. If anything, it really did its job. I wouldn’t be crying if it didn’t make me care about the characters. This has been the work of ten years of buildup, with movies that made us actually care about star-spangled spandex men and men in robot suits. If anything else, this movie shows that all the work that Marvel has put into their movies has paid off.

When people call this an event movie, they aren’t kidding. It’s a major crossover with a great villain. I am ranking Thanos up there with Kilgrave, Loki, Kingpin, and Killmonger as far as effective and compelling Marvel villains. He’s brutal, he’s got some aspects of his life that make him sympathetic, but make no mistake, he is not one to mess with.

Every character gets a moment to shine here, even the heroes who would be labeled as supporting characters or second string/B-team. I honestly wish there were more moments with the “second string” characters, but that would make the movie longer than it already is. The story is tragic in the best way possible (see my crying face), the effects are a spectacle, and the action is visceral. I felt like I was pulled out of my body for a while and then thrust back in, Doctor Strange style.

Overall, I want to give this movie and 8/10. It’s not absolutely perfect, but it is worth seeing, especially if you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Congratulations, Russo Brothers. You blew us all away.

Now if you want to know why I don’t give this movie a 10, read below. Spoilers ahead.

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Black Panther AKA The History of King T’Challa

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I didn’t have high expectations going into Black Panther and while a lot of people, including the critics are praising this movie to the skies, there are some people who are experiencing what is known as “hype backlash.” This review is just going to express my opinion. So yes, I did like Black Panther. A lot. Is it the best Marvel movie ever? No. But it’s still a great introduction to a hero who is probably not as well-known as the other Avengers. And, aside from Thor, this movie has the most Shakespearean themes, which is a major treat for me.

So here’s the question: How is this movie Shakepsearean?

Minor spoilers ahead.

I can’t compare this movie to any one Shakespeare play. Shakespeare fans may compare this movie to the historical plays, such as any of the ones with Henry in the title. Instead, Black Panther‘s theme is about the responsibility of kingship. Thor’s movies are essentially about the journey to becoming king while Black Panther is about how kingship is carried out in practice.

One thing this movie has in common with the best of Shakespeare is that the movie has a strong supporting cast. The female characters are especially memorable. Shuri is by far everyone’s favorite, being the sassy genius younger sister. In the first part of the film, she is the Q to T’Challa’s James Bond, giving him all sorts of gadgets to use for a mission in Korea. At the same time, she can also hold her own in a fight and she is always a delight in whatever scene she’s in. (Side note: Please don’t ship her with anyone. She’s 16 years old and doesn’t need to be in a romantic relationship. If she shows romantic interest in somebody, ship all you want, but as of now, she ain’t interested in any relationship.) T’Challa’s love interest, Nakia, is thankfully nothing like her comic book counterpart, who was basically a Woman Scorned. She is a spy, whose experience in doing worldwide missions, advocates the idea that Wakanda should be more involved in the world. her weapon being reminiscent of Xena’s chakrams.

And, like the most memorable of Shakespeare plays, the villain is not only memorable, but sympathetic and has a personal connection to the protagonist. Even though Erik Stevens AKA Killmonger has the same motivations of previous Marvel movies (distribute powerful weapons, burn the world, etc.), but Michael B. Jordan puts a personal touch to Killmonger’s motivations. As a child orphaned and abandoned, he becomes a product of his time. Like many of Shakespeare’s villains, he is bloodthirsty and short-sighted, which becomes his undoing.

My one nitpick with this movie is something towards the third act. plot is nothing new and the themes may not resonate with everyone, but I still think this movie is worth watching so that you can make your own call.

Defenders: A Review

defenders

As a fan of Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve had a hit and miss relationship with the four Netflix Original Series shows. On the one hand, Daredevil started off well, but got muddled in the second season. I liked aspects of Jessica Jones, but I don’t think I could watch it again because Kilgrave is a living nightmare and I didn’t feel like Jessica had any hope of moving forward by the end of the series. Luke Cage is okay, but the violence feels all too real considering current events. Iron Fist felt too derivative and mediocre.

Defenders, much like Avengers, is the story of how these four street-level heroes become a team in order to take down the Hand, an ancient criminal organization. Daredevil and Iron Fist have the most at stake, since they have dealt with the Hand in the past. However, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones still have their own character arcs as well, wanting to help the people in their neighborhoods whose lives are being affected by the Hand’s conspiracy.

The action in this series is top notch, from the signature hallway fight to the fight between Luke Cage and Iron Fist and every other brawl in between. And the overall story is solid. The members of the Hand all want to prolong their immortal lives, especially Alexandra (played by Sigourney Weaver). They resurrect Elektra to act as their enforcer.

Matt Murdock’s character arc centers on trying to live out a normal life as a lawyer while still having the desire to fight crime as Daredevil. He is the only one who actually needs to hide his secret identity, since his double life could cost him his job and all the cases he won. Elektra’s return brings back issues for Matt Murdock who’s still not over her. While I understand their relationship, it’s not what you would call a healthy one.

Danny Rand starts out as being a single-minded, immature man-child, wanting to take down the Hand at any cost. Through meeting the other Defenders, he learns that he doesn’t have to follow his duty alone. His scenes with Luke Cage are my favorite scenes in the series, which makes sense because they’re best friends in the comics. I only wished that there was a scene where they talked about their taste in music. They also fight well together, as evidence in the fight with Alexandra’s minions.

Luke Cage acts as the conscience of the team, not wanting innocent people to get hurt. He has a lot to live up to as the Hero of Harlem and while he doesn’t have a lot of personal stakes in the series, he’s smart enough to go along with everything, even when things don’t make sense. He is also the hero who captures one of the members of the Hand. He’s better at escaping an attempted kidnapping than Danny, sad to say.

Jessica has the least amount of character development, given that she has the least amount of personal stakes and connection with the Hand in this series. She’s still isolating herself, not taking on any clients except for someone who provides the MacGuffin. By the end of the series, Jessica finds the resolve to start working again. And while I like that Jessica and Luke got some closure in terms of their relationship, I still ship them so hard that I wanted them to have at least one “ship tease” moment. Since Luke is still in a happy relationship with Claire, my Jessica/Luke ship is not gonna be sailing off anytime soon.

The major villains in Defenders are Alexandra and Madame Gao. The other three members of the Hand play second fiddle. Alexandra takes it upon herself to raise Elektra as the Black Sky, the Hand’s living weapon. Madame Gao is trying to keep the Hand from falling apart and proves to be a surprisingly good fighter. She’s also very intimidating, in spite of her age. Elektra, however, is the most complex villain in the series. Even though she is tasked with helping the Hand achieve their latest goal of gaining immortality and destroying New York City, she still has feelings for Matt. In the end, she chooses her own path, though where it will lead her and Matt is still unknown.

Overall, this series is worth watching, but I recommend not binge-watching everything at once. I don’t regret spending my weekend watching it, but watching the series one episode at a time helps to remember all the little things more. And thankfully, aside from one gratuitous sex scene, the violence is the only thing that makes this series MA. It’s a soft R rating overall. Watch it for the action and the character development. These guys are awesome.

 

The Importance of Being Mantis

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What exactly makes Guardians of the Galaxy so beloved within the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe? Aside from the soundtracks, the real driving forces behind Guardians of the Galaxy and the sequel are the protagonists. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 gives everyone character development that takes them from being “Space Avengers” to stand-out individuals. It also introduced Mantis, Ego’s adopted daughter, played by Pom Klementieff. Mantis is a unique character compared to the others in the movie and even in the larger scope of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe characters.

 

Up to this point, the female characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have either been very stoic and efficient in battle (Black Widow, Gamora, Daisy Johnson) or love interests that are relegated to supporting roles (Pepper Potts, Jane Foster). Mantis, however, is neither a love interest nor an action girl. Instead, she connects to the Guardians of the Galaxy by her empathic abilities. The fact that her character arc centers on emotionally connecting with others and sharing her social awkwardness is a breath of fresh air when considering how often people want women in the media to either be tough, strong, and stoic or the emotional damsel in distress or just act as fanservice.

 

Mantis is the first character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I could say is the character who is most like me. Given that the MCU has been around since 2008, it’s hard to believe that it took almost a decade for Marvel to introduce a character like her. It’s not to say that I didn’t like The Avengers or the Guardians or the Agents of Shield or the Defenders. I love all of them to certain extents. However, something that made Marvel comics appealing was that it introduced characters that felt relatable, like an average teenage boy from Queens suddenly getting spider abilities or an average Muslim girl from New Jersey suddenly being able to stretch and shrink her body. While Mantis is by no means an average human being, she was based on a half-Asian human character from the comics. What makes her relatable to me is her social awkwardness and empathic abilities.

 

In an interview with Carson Daly, Pom Klementieff said:

In Marvel movies, we’re used to seeing badass and strong female characters, which I love…But it’s cool to show something else, you know, to show someone who’s less self-confident, who’s a bit weird.

 

Throughout the movie, Mantis connects to the other Guardians, especially Drax (played by Dave Bautista). It makes sense, given that they’re both socially awkward. However, what really seals their friendship is when she uses her empathic powers on Drax as he reflects on the loss of his wife and daughter. She breaks down in tears while he looks out at the beautiful scenery with a smile. It’s not certain whether Drax is at peace with what happened or if he happy that he’s just starting to move on. What is certain is that Drax finally found a friend who understands his grief.

 

Of course, my shipping radar went off the roof with how Drax and Mantis interacted with each other. I find relationships based on emotional connection and attraction very appealing. However, it’s made explicitly clear that Mantis and Drax find each other physically repulsive and do not want to pursue anything romantic. This averts any ideas of the emotional, empathetic one being anyone’s designated love interest.  (Apologies to the Drax/Mantis shippers.)

 

In a world that’s trying to figure out the ideal heroic woman, having a character like Mantis is a step forward in the right direction. It’s important for young girls to know that there are times that call them to be strong, but they shouldn’t discard their ability to empathize with others. The purpose of stories is to create empathy for people we wouldn’t normally connect with. Mantis shows that there is a great strength in being empathetic. Having empathy allowed Mantis to find people who cared for her as a person, a new family beyond just Ego and her empathic abilities actually helped in the inevitable final battle. I seriously can’t wait to see what she does in the next movie the Guardians appear in!

The Importance of Superheroes

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It’s easy to write off superhero movies as being all the same. It’s easy to get cynical about comic book movies, especially ones that are dark and angsty (*sideglances at Batfleck and Man of Steel*). But the genre of adaptations based on comic books has come a long way from how they started in the early 2000s and despite what some people may think, it’s not a rinse-and-repeat formula. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if there’s one thing that the current lineup of superheros has shown us, it’s that there are many ways to be a hero, just as there are many ways to be a saint.

WARNING: I’ll be making references to both the Marvel Cinematic Universe AND the DC shows currently on TV, so if you’re one of those people who wants me to pick a side between Marvel and DC, this post is not for you. Also, I’m more familiar with the current lineup of movies and TV shows and not with the comics themselves, so apologies to you diehard comic book fans.

I’m gonna start out with what is being called the “Arrowverse,” AKA the current lineup of shows created by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg. Arrow is the series most similar to the dark and gritty DC movies we’ve been seeing in recent years. It’s not a perfect show, especially with its soap-opera worthy levels of poor communications and misunderstandings, but my brother, who is a huge fan of the show, loves Arrow because of the characters. He says that the Green Arrow represents “the idea of a ray of light to combat a dark town. I think that things may always get worse before they get better, but you shouldn’t stop when it gets either way.”

Similarly, the protagonists in Daredevil and Jessica Jones are more like anti-heroes because these heroes don’t try to do the right thing for the sake of being good, but for other reasons. Matt Murdock wants to reform Hell’s Kitchen and Jessica Jones wants to believe that she can be a hero, even though she doesn’t think that she’s good. Neither of them realize it, but they are being heroes just by being selfless and putting other people before their own personal happiness. Maybe it’s my Catholic bias, but I liked that (so far) Matt incorporated the advice that Fr. Lantom gives him. And while I still have problems with Jessica Jones, I love that Jessica’s motivations throughout the show are for Hope’s safety as well as protecting humanity from Kilgrave.

In contrast, The Flash and Supergirl both have a more optimistic and idealistic view on heroism. Neither of the titular heroes resort to killing their adversaries. Instead, Flash gets help from his friends and mentors and come up with a smarter plan of action. The best example of this was during the Christmas special “Running to Stand Still.” Facing off against two of his deadliest opponents, Flash works together with his friends at S.T.A.R. labs to prevent a mass bombing. He also helps out a police officer who had a grudge against one of the bad guys. Another example can be seen in the crossover episode with Arrow “The Brave and The Bold” (Arrow Season 3) in which Flash’s team worked together with Green Arrow’s team to stop five bombs in the city from going off all at once.

Supergirl relies on her empathy and willingness to believe in the best in people in order to save the day and her optimism and compassion compel most people to imitate her. A recent example was shown in “Strange Visitor from Another Planet” in which Supergirl helped changed the mind of an anti-alien senator simply by saving her from the Monster (or rather White Martian) of the Week. She also helped her mentor take another step in dealing with his personal grief. (I’m applying this to both Hank Henshaw and Cat Grant.)

One other thing I also like about the latest crop of heroes is that they allow for original conflicts and concepts. Movies with superhero teams such as Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers, and Big Hero 6 show that while heroes may not always get along or agree, they will come together and be heroes when the situation calls for it.

What’s even better is that there are even shows out there that center on people who don’t have any superpowers, but are still considered heroes because their actions go beyond the ordinary. Agent Carter is an awesome show for many reasons, but one thing I love is that none of the protagonists (Peggy, Jarvis, or Howard) have any standard comic book superpowers. Instead, Peggy relies on her intuition and quick thinking in order to save the day. Jarvis trains in martial arts and is always willing to lend a hand. And the only superpowers Howard has are his genius mind and his charm.

The most interesting thing I’ve been seeing in the superhero genre, however, is that every character is given the opportunity to be good. Most of the time, villains are too selfish or sociopathic to want to be good. However, there are more complex villains that have a moral. Legends of Tomorrow and Suicide Squad show that even bad guys have the potential to be heroic under the right circumstances.

In Legends of Tomorrow, there are three characters who are morally ambiguous: Captain Cold, Heatwave, and White Canary. In my honest opinion, these guys have been the most interesting characters to watch. I love their snark, but I also like that they’re trying to figure out their own purpose in a team where most of the characters tend towards following rules or morals. While they don’t consider themselves to be good, Captain Cold is more than willing to help out a “crewmember” in need. Back in The Flash, he establishes his own code of honor with the main hero and goes out of his way to protect his sister. And while I’m on the fence about White Canary partaking in cannabis, she’s efficient in battle and wants to be more than just an assassin. Even the characters with typical morals, such as Martin Stein, are becoming more aware of their flaws as people and are making efforts to change in order to become better heroes.

In short, we need comic book superheroes. Why? Because we all have the potential to be heroes, even without the ability to gain superpowers. Superheroes, in the end, are people who have “an increased capacity to act and exert power and to demonstrate agency.” And as David Bowie said: “We can be heroes, just for one day.”

So go be heroes, people!

Daredevil Month: Cut Man

Apologies that this is late. I was kind of busy wrangling second graders for Catechism.

Without further ado, onto the episode.

The episode opens with a young man named Santino finding Daredevil in a dumpster. The young man runs to his neighbor for help. The woman who comes to help is a nurse named Claire (played by Rosario Dawson).

Matt flashes back to his childhood, where he’s watching his father losing a boxing match. His dad arrives home and the young Matt tends to his father’s wounds. Matt finds out that his father gets paid well, even if he loses, and the two agree that it’s now how you fall, but getting back up that matters.

Karen and Foggy have a little flirtation in the office. We also learn that Foggy can’t carry a tune and has bad taste in music. She’s got major avoidance issues, but Foggy knows them when he sees them.

Back in Claire’s apartment, she kind of bashes the all-black outfit and gives Matt an assessment of his damages. Matt refuses to make things personal and begs her not to take him to a hospital. She’s also reluctant to make things personal, but decides to call the guy she found “Mike.”

Flashing back to Matt’s childhood, Matt has major oversensory issues, panicking that he can’t see. His father comes to comfort him. Adult Matt wakes up with breathing problems, but Claire keeps his airflow steady.

Matt finally tells Claire about how he ended up in the dumpster: Russians kidnapped a little boy as part of their human trafficking ring. Of course, it all turns out to be a trap. Claire is kind of skeptical, given his injuries and sadly, the kid hasn’t been found. Matt’s super senses detect that someone is looking for them, going from door to door.

Flashing back again to Jack practicing boxing while Matt gets used to being blind, reading Braille and getting used to hearing loud noises. The bond between the two of them is heartwarming, even when Jack gets offered a match he can’t refuse with someone named Creel. Fans of Agents of SHIELD can already smell trouble afoot. However, the sponsors ask him to rig the fight to lose and threaten him if he doesn’t comply. Little Matt, of course, hears every word.

Back in the present day. Claire lies to the police officer looking for Daredevil. Of course, he can tell when the guy is lying. The cop is in with the Russians (or a Russian pretending to be a cop). Matt decides to drop a fire extinguisher. Unfortunately, Santino saw both of them.

On another side of town, Foggy and Karen are out at a bar called Josie’s as part of the end of a pub crawl. Foggy and Karen insist that they’re not dating, but Foggy still wants to know why Karen hangs around the office all day and hardly, if ever, goes home. It turns out that Karen is reluctant go home because of the traumatic memories she experienced last episode. She feels like she’s always in danger. Foggy points out some people in the room to cheer her up and says that they can stay out all night if she wants to. (Oh the ship tease!)

Out on the roof of Claire’s apartment building, Daredevil preps to interrogate the Russian cop. Claire asks Daredevil who he really is because she’s freaked out about the fact that he’s able to smell cologne through walls, can tell whether or not the cop is really unconscious, and can take an unbelievable amount of punishment without one damn complaint. Daredevil snarks “The last part’s the Catholicism. (He’s right, though. Catholics are kind of masochistic that way.)

Daredevil asks Claire who she is and Claire says that she was an ER nurse who treated three men that he beat up as well as a waitress he saved. She isn’t so sure that interrogation is the right thing to do.

Little Matt reads a speech from Thurgood Marshall about justice and democracy. He also feels out his father’s boxing outfit for the first time. He asks Dad if they always get up after a fight. Later on, Jack decides to change the odds and put the money in Matt’s name instead of rigging the fight to lose. He calls up a woman (most likely his exwife) and tells her to take care of Matt.

In the present day, Foggy and Karen show up at Matt’s apartment trying to get him to come out, with no idea he’s missing and very, very drunk. With no sign of Matt, they decide to go off to the fish market. Karen decides that she’s ready to go home. And this is when I start totally shipping them.

The Russian cop wakes up to see Daredevil and Claire, in a white hoodie and mask.Daredevil interrogates the guy about where the boy is. Claire gives him some pointers about where he can cause the most damage and Daredevil follows suit. He cuts the man down and leans him over the edge of the roof. He claims to be a sadist and the Russian finally gives a location, saying that it’s a trap. Daredevil pushes the guy off the roof into the dumpster and assures Claire that he’s not dead. He tells Claire lay low, but he needs her help patching up. He thanks her for her help. Claire says that she doesn’t believe what he told the Russian about enjoying the kill, but Daredevil walks out without a word.

Jack Murdock goes into the battle and takes down Creel, with Matt watching with enjoyment. The crowd cheers for Murdock…only to cut to Jack being shot shortly afterwards. Little Matt finds his father dead in an alley.

The scene cuts to the Russians, feeding the little boy they kidnapped in some run-down building. Daredevil comes in, with the start of the fight taking place behind closed doors. He beats up some more mooks in the hallway and holds out in spite of his earlier injuries. It’s interesting that the camera chooses to focus on the hallway and not lead the audience into the other rooms where Daredevil is fighting everyone else, but I’ll assume it’s your usual close-quarters fighting. Daredevil unlocks the door and unmasks himself before getting the boy out to safety. He puts his mask back on and carries the little boy out.

This is a great follow-up to the first episode and was definitely not what I expected. We get to see Matt’s origin story, complete with the death of a parent, and see that Daredevil starts to trust others (albeit not his coworkers) with his secret. There’s major ship tease going on between Karen and Foggy and it’ll be interesting to see where that goes, but mostly I like that the fight scenes aren’t actually the focus here. It’s more centered on characters making choices for the better or for the worse.

I promise that tomorrow will have another recap. I only teach Catechism once a week, after all.

Daredevil Month: Into the Ring

I’ll admit that I’m only a casual fan of superheroes at best. I’m really picky about what I watch and I tend to prefer shows with female leads and good morals and lots of nerdy fun. Mostly, I love shows with really great writing that doesn’t stoop to soap opera levels. But given that everyone’s been talking about Daredevil, I figured I’d give it a watch.

So without further ado, the next few weeks will have posts of me looking at each individual episode of the Netflix-exclusive Daredevil series. Now I’m going into this with a casual knowledge of Daredevil as a whole. I didn’t see the movie that starred Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, but thankfully somebody critiqued it so that I don’t have to!

Now unlike my Firefly month, I won’t be analyzing the series for any sort of themes. I’m just going to critique the individual episodes, ending with an overall review on what I think of the characters and overall story.

The series starts out with “Into The Ring.”

The first scene that we see is a major car accident in New York City, where a young Matt Murdock goes completely blind from some radioactive chemicals that got into his eyes. The last thing he sees is his dad.

The next scene shows the grown-up Matt Murdock in a Confession talking about his dad and asking the priest, Fr. Lantom for forgiveness for something he’s about to do. As far as confessional scenes go, I feel like this one is at least decent. Fr. Lantom knows that he can’t forgive Matt for something he’s planning to do and he seems like a good and decent man.

What Matt seeks forgiveness for is his first outing as Daredevil, in which he saves some girls from a group of human traffickers. It’s hard to see the Daredevil outfit in this scene, but we see how Matt works as a hero. He strikes from the shadows and fights pretty brutally, but given the gritty tone of the show, it’s all good.

The next scene introduces Matt’s associate, Foggy Nelson, your typical defense attorney who isn’t above bribing cops. As slick as he is, he’s a good comic foil to the more straight-laced hero and he’s only bribing cops for information. The two of them check out an office space in Hell’s Kitchen where it’s implied that this takes place in the same universe as the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Foggy establishes that he still wants to make a living while Matt wants to defend the innocent. Given that they’re defense lawyers, business is gonna be tricky.

Thankfully, the two of them find their first client in the form of Karen Page, who is framed for the murder of her coworker. It’s during the interrogation scene with Karen that we see a glimpse of Matt’s superpowers. His heightened sense of hearing lets him listen to Karen’s heartbeat, making him able to tell whether or not she is lying.

The next scene features two men at a park. One man is an enforcer, James Wesley, who approaches a middle-aged man named Mr. Farnum. The enforcer threatens to kill Mr. Farnum’s daughter if Farnum doesn’t cooperate with him.

Meanwhile, Matt and Foggy discuss what to do with Karen. Foggy thinks of making a deal while Matt wonders why the arrest isn’t all over the papers if it seems to cut-and-dry that she’s guilty. We soon find out what Mr. Farnum, a police officer, was asked to do: kill Karen in a way that makes it look like a suicide. But thankfully, Karen fights back and lives to see another day.  

Matt and Foggy take Karen back to their offices and talk to Karen about her old job. It turns out that Karen’s former place of employment, Union Allied, has been profiting from government contracts to rebuild the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Karen, a secretary, was emailed a file for her boss and accidentally opened it. It turned out that it was a file relating to some ill-gotten-gains. She figured it was some kind of Ponzi scheme, so after her boss laughed it off, she consulted a co-worker who worked in legal. Unfortunately, that led to both of them being drugged and Karen being framed for his murder.

Matt lets Karen stay in his place, a sparsely decorated place that has a view of a big advertising screen across the street. Karen changes shirts and I will forever thank the director and cinematographer for not making the scene as fanservice-y as it could’ve been. Karen asks Matt about his blindness. Matt then asks her about the file that Karen came across. Karen lies to him.

The next scene shows a high rise meeting with people I assume will be the villains for the series. There are two Russian brothers, a Chinese woman named Madame Gao, a Japanese man named Nobu, and Leland Owlsley, a financial expert. Wesley arrives as a representative of his employer, whom he doesn’t want to name. (Is he working for Voldemort?) The group discusses the vigilante that attacked at the docks. Wesley asks the Russian brothers to take care of the situation so that Union Allied can stay out of its current scandal. 

Karen sneaks out of Matt’s apartment and goes to pick up the file in an abandoned building. An assassin is there waiting for her. Thankfully, Daredevil comes to her rescue, dressed in black. In spite of the fact that it’s night time, the fight scene can be seen clearly, leading out the window into the pouring rain. Daredevil flashes back to his childhood, to a memory of his father. The flashback motivates Daredevil to get back up and keep fighting. The fight continues as we see further examples of Daredevil’s powers. I love that this is a more realistic version of a fight scene, with just the super hearing being shown in subtle ways, instead of the over-the-top effects we’ve gotten so used to.

Daredevil takes the assassin and the file to the press. Wesley recaps the cleanup to his employer. The employer tells Wesley to start a file on the lawyers. Karen makes lunch for Foggy and Matt and decides to work for them as their housekeeper in return for them helping her out. The episode ends with Matt going to a gym and working out on a punching bag, all while a montage of the villains at work are shown. The last shot we see is Daredevil standing on top of a building, hearing a boy being kidnapped by the two Russian brothers seen earlier.

My major issue with the episode is that I don’t really know who the villains are. Of course, the montage at the end shows that we will probably see these villains later on. I also like that the end of the episode leads into the next one. As someone unfamiliar with the world of Daredevil, I don’t really know who the mysterious employer is. And btw: NO SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS.

As far as first episodes go, this is a great start. I know the basics of the major characters and am curious to see where things go from here. Tune in tomorrow for my next recap!