Written by Drew Goddard.
After the first episode, which was more of a tone-setting establisher piece, episode two is where that established equilibrium changes. Yes, it’s the standard Hero’s Journey formula, but as I’ve always said (well, not always said, but you catch my drift), there’s nothing wrong with formula if a writer can be playful with it. After Into the Ring ended with Daredevil about to embark into his first major fight, this episode literally begins with him in a skip, making the plot of this about his climb back up to a standing position and ready to take it again.
One of the things I like the most about this series is the non-linear storytelling, as we’re shown flashbacks to Daredevil’s childhood as a parallel narrative. Sometimes it’s from before he became blind, sometimes after. But the plot structure of the show is like a boxing film. Whiplash was considered to be similar – a boxing film disguised as a film about music. Daredevil is a boxing film disguised as a superhero show. Which I personally love, because I’m the kind of person that wouldn’t really watch a boxing film, and also happen to have a weakness for superheroes. Already I admire the way this particular contribution to the superhero genre is being handled purely for transforming it into something else. The genre is at its height right now, and inevitably, it will have to adapt to survive. So along comes Daredevil with the right kind of source material (which I don’t read, but I can only assume it’s something like this), and presents itself to the superhero genre with a new way of doing things. People should look at Daredevil to understand what’s going to happen to what is right now everyone’s favourite genre, because it’s a strong-enough departure from what we’re used to by essentially being something else, while still being that thing at least half the time.
Daredevil’s superpowers – which really are very imaginative, by the way – is just an extension of his status as a fighter. At this stage, his story is one of a man following his father’s footsteps as a boxer to avenge his title against the man who took it from him. In fact, thinking about it now, I’m legitimately unsure as to whether it really is an evolution of the superhero genre or of the boxing genre to start with.
I once heard a short lecture by a screenwriter who said that most writers fail at the premise by not knowing what genre suits their story, which results in them not knowing how to write it well. But that isn’t true at all. The reason I liked Chronicle so much is because it combined the superhero genre with the found footage genre with intriguing results. This is the same, only it’s being combined with the boxing genre instead.
You ask any fan of anything what their favourite genre is, and there’s a good chance their favourite film of that genre is actually a hybrid of it with something else. Back to the Future is often cited as one of the best science-fictions, despite half of it being a teen love story. People can claim to like specific genres, but the truth is that they like complexity if it can be presented as one story. Which is why – and I say this as someone trying to review every superhero film – that what frustrates me the most is genericity: when a film is able to tick all the boxes of a genre but do nothing else. That’s what I hated so much about the Ben Affleck Daredevil, which was a typical example of its genre while adding nothing else. Whereas Daredevil manages to be a seamless fusion of two different things, making for one. If you can combine lots of storytelling formats into a single package, you get something like Breaking Bad. In fact, I’m beginning to really think that this could be the break-out show to TV snobs that gets them to finally acknowledge this genre’s credibility.
Two episodes in and already I think this first season is building toward being a cinematic masterpiece. I don’t settle for second best. I like Daredevil.