‘Dare­devil’ se­ries brings fear­less Marvel comic punch to Net­flix

The China Post - - ARTS & LEISURE - BY ROBERT MACPHER­SON

From the pages of a comic book that first came out in the Six­ties comes the lat­est su­per­hero to score a come­back on Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion.

“Marvel’s Dare­devil” is the first of five Net­flix orig­i­nal se­ries to be rolled out un­der a ground­break­ing deal with Marvel Comics.

De­but­ing on Fri­day, it stars Char­lie Cox as Matt Mur­dock, a young, blind lawyer who morphs into a ba­ton-wield­ing masked vig­i­lante af­ter dark.

Blessed with ex­trasen­sory pow­ers, Mur­dock — alias Dare­devil, “the man with­out fear” — em­barks on a lone quest for jus­tice in New York’s mean streets.

Net­flix re­leased all 13 episodes of “Dare­devil” on Fri­day, giv­ing its 60 mil­lion U.S. and for­eign sub­scribers a binge-view­ing op­tion for the week­end.

The A-list he­roes of The Avengers fran­chise have al­ready be­come a mul­ti­mil­lion dollar Hol­ly­wood phe­nom­e­non, now tele­vi­sion ex­ec­u­tives are trawl­ing Marvel’s vast back cat­a­log for less iconic but still fondly re­mem­bered char­ac­ters.

Plans call for Net­flix to roll out three ad­di­tional se­ries in the com­ing months, each piv­ot­ing around an­other Marvel char­ac­ter — Jes­sica “Jewel” Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.

Ul­ti­mately, the su­per­heroes will all come to­gether as an dy­namic crime-fight­ing four­some in a yet-tobe-name mini-se­ries for the ex­pand­ing video-on-de­mand ser­vice.

Shows adapted from comic books have been a high­light of the cur­rent U.S. tele­vi­sion sea­son, from the Bat­man pre­quel “Gotham” on Fox to “The Flash” on The CW net­work.

On ABC, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” and “Marvel’s Agent Carter” each pull more than seven mil­lion view­ers, En­ter­tain­ment Weekly re­ports.

The Walt Dis­ney Com­pany owns both ABC and Marvel Comics, whose su­per­hero ros­ter in­cludes Spi­derMan, Thor and Cap­tain Amer­ica.

“Dare­devil” first ap­peared in print in April 1964, co-cre­ated by Stan Lee, the Amer­i­can comic book icon who also con­ceived Hulk, Thor and Spi­der-Man.

Flopped as a Film

In 2003 it was made into a mo­tion pic­ture so dis­mal that Ben Af­fleck, cast in the star­ring role, later called it “the only movie I ac­tu­ally re­gret.”

On­line trail­ers for the Net­flix adap­ta­tion put Mur­dock/Dare­devil in the Man­hat­tan dis­trict of Hell’s Kitchen, where the su­per­hero was born and raised.

Never mind that the neigh­bor­hood to­day is achingly hip, chock­ablock with groovy nightspots and some of the most ex­pen­sive hous­ing in New York.

In “Dare­devil” it re­verts, al­beit in 21st cen­tury guise, to its vi­o­lent past as a haven for crim­i­nal gangs, a stone’s throw from Broad­way’s glit­ter.

“I have to be the man this city needs,” says Mur­dock early in the se­ries. “I’m just try­ing to make my city a bet­ter place.”

Early re­views are pos­i­tive, with En­ter­tain­ment Weekly call­ing “Dare­devil” an adult-ori­ented saga “that doesn’t seem like it was cre­ated to sell lunch boxes.”

For Spencer Perry, writ­ing on Su­perHeroHype.com, “the fram­ing and de­pic­tion of the city look ex­actly like a Dare­devil comic come to life.”

But he cau­tioned: “This isn’t a big car­toon, so the punches are felt, the blood flows and some­times body parts are sev­ered ... There’s gore not found in any other Marvel pro­duc­tion.”

Star­ring along­side Cox, who played an Ir­ish im­mi­grant hit­man on “Board­walk Em­pire,” are Deb­o­rah Ann Woll as Mur­dock’s be­sot­ted sec­re­tary and Vin­cent D’Onofrio as the vil­lain­ous King­pin.

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