“Daredevil”

Title card

As a comics fan and a blind person, I guess it’s all but imperative I share my thoughts on the Daredevil series.

It’s no secret that I’m rather nitpicky about adaptations of things I’m a fan of, but that pales in comparison to how rigidly I scrutinize the portrayal of blindness in entertainment. There are many misconceptions about blindness and as a blind person I am constantly reminded how prevalent these are. I can’t count how many times in my life I’ve been told that I don’t seem blind. Maybe part of this is because I was born blind and I’ve always seen the way I do that such statements confound me so, but I think it’s more that the general public is often astonished to discover how capable a person without 20/20 vision can actually be.

In any case, I’m very pleased to say that Charlie Cox’s performance is without a doubt the best sighted man playing a blind person I’ve seen. Sure there are niggling things here and there, but for the most part he’s incredibly natural and it’s a refreshing treat for me to watch. Now, of course, Matt Murdock isn’t your typical blind person and if you really wanted to quibble the point I’d argue the character himself plays at being blind. His heightened senses have more than replaced his loss of eyesight and that’s the whole point of his alter-ego, Daredevil.

I actually like this particular interpretation of Matt because it’s actually closer to the reality of blindness. There’s a common and very inaccurate belief about blindness and better hearing, but the truth is that the two aren’t correlated. That’s like saying going deaf would make your vision better. In truth all of your senses will compensate for a loss of one, but not without work to do so. There’s a very quick scene with young Matt that explains this concept perfectly when he expresses his difficulties learning to read Braille. He’s confusing some of the letters because at this point he hasn’t developed the sensitivity in his fingers to be able to easily differentiate them. The gravitas of that may be lost on many, but it’s the truth of learning Braille. Anyone can memorize the Grade I alphabet, but recognizing those little bumps with your fingertips takes practice.1

My spoiler allergy kept me from following any news about the series, so I missed the whole descriptive audio kerfluffle. I watched the series with the descriptive track partly to critique it and mostly because this show is absurdly dark and I can hardly make out anything. For the most part it’s done quite well. There are some amusing and awkward grammar choices that sometimes made following along mildly confusing. Also at times it’s a bit out of sync with the action and describes things that happen some thirty seconds after a prolonged silence. It’s also worth noting that it definitely expects you’ve watched the series in order by referring to unnamed characters by their initial introductions. Granted I don’t expect many people to just randomly jump into the show anyway since it is unforgivingly serialized.

With all that said, the show itself is incredibly good. Of particular note is the action. It’s well-choreographed and an enjoyable departure from the over-the-top acrobatics that has been done to death. These are more-or-less regular people trading painful blows. And sometimes microwave ovens. The villains, for the most part, were another treat. They’re a colorful and interesting bunch, capped off by D’Onofrio’s Fisk who is fascinatingly odd.

Not everything with Daredevil dazzled me, though. The standout being the feud Matt and Foggy have. Especially that it’s quashed even more randomly than it’s started. All it really accomplishes is biding some time between some really nice flashbacks, which in turn only emphasize how absurd the fight itself is. To be fair, I did like the bit with Karen on the phone with Ben in a pure “mommy and daddy are fighting and the kids are upset” moment. Which, by the way, is about the only thing I can say I enjoyed when it comes to Ben. I’m sad to admit this because I really like the character and the actor, but he doesn’t do anything. To the point that his own death isn’t even caused by his actions, but Karen’s.

As a whole the show is a mixed bag in terms of style. It’s a lot of things from crime drama to noir mystery and I most favor the direction it starts in and am baffled by where it ends up in the final episode. It’s rooted in a gritty realism that is far better than anything Nolan’s put on screen, but by the end of the arc when Daredevil dons his iconic red costume it’s veered a bit off course and seriously what was up with the Wilson v. Matt fight? I don’t quite understand how that ties together with the action from say the second episode, but at least the majority of the time there’s a fairly good balance of all that this show is trying to be.

I’m eager to see where season two goes.

  1. This is why after learning Braille almost 30 years ago, I personally struggle with reading it these days.

Happy New Year!

Honestly, even though I feel this year sped by at lightning speed, I am not sorry to see it go. Here’s to 2014!

Also, I find this highly appropriate:

Calvin & Hobbes comic strip panel on New Year's resolutions

December 18, 2013

This is sadly far too appropriate for me today:

What the Duck #1446

I’m My Own Worst Enemy

Saw Iron Man 3 this past weekend and it was awesome and you should totally go see it if you have even the slightest interest in superhero films or summer action flicks or damn good movies. You should also probably stop reading this post because it has nothing to do with IM3 and awesome things.

That is because I’m a glutton for punishment and when good things happen at the movies — specifically good comic films — I immediately start on an Internet sleuthing expedition to find out information about the future of comic films. And then I want to be a superhero who can go back in time and slap myself upside the head because of my crippling stupidity.

For what it’s worth this time I can blame other people. See after seeing IM3 with a group of friends we got on the subject of Man of Steel and there was some general excitement from these friends which I was baffled by. I wasn’t sure if it was just that these people largely don’t read comics — and maybe they’re the smart ones in this case because I’m still trying to forget my brief toe-dipping into the DCnU — but these were also the same people who were genuinely excited about The Hunger Games after I’d completely written it off before the trailer was released and the train wreck had turned into awesome. Could that be the case here?

Yeah, no. It’s still awful. Or at the very least really confusing. I might be biased, though, because I still have residual anger about Nolan’s Batman trilogy and I actually watched Green Lantern and I really miss Superman’s underpants.

I realize now that the crux of my problem is that too much is changing. I know this sounds somewhat counterintuitive to my usual assertion that transitions inherently are change because they are an interpretation. And here I am quibbling over things like costume designs. If I seem nitpicky perhaps I am. But by all accounts the recent changes in the comics — and by extension the films and television shows — are all attempts to streamline stories and make these characters relatable to today.

Uh, okay. Well, that’s fine and good to an extent, but I don’t really understand the point of changing the very essence of the characters themselves. It’s my biggest issue with Nolan’s Batman, though, admittedly not the issue that sends me into a frothy rage. And, by all accounts, it’s the same thing that’s going on with MoS. Certainly it’s the angle the New 52 have taken and why I can’t really manage to read anything that’s come out from the last year. But that was an issue long before the reboot, albeit on a less grand scale — and mostly I was concerned with Wonder Woman who has been going off the deep end of character development for what seems my entire life.

The funny thing is that taking characters that are popular and retooling them into new superheroes is not something that’s never been done. The best example I can think of — you know, to be relevant to today — is Green Arrow who literally started out as a carbon copy of Batman except he had a bow. I’m not exaggerating this in the least. It wasn’t even thinly veiled as so much there wasn’t an effort to veil anything. And now he has a surprisingly popular TV show that I haven’t bothered to watch because I’m still trying to get over Smallville and I only watched three seasons of that, which was giving up on it well before it truly became absurd.

What reduces me to tears is that MoS is very likely to succeed. It’s Superman after all. He’s as recognizable as Mickey Mouse. Even if you’ve never read a single comic, seen the Donner films, or had any exposure to him through all his stints on TV you probably still know a bit of his story. Plus, it’s summertime and action flicks rule the box office and even at it’s most terrible there will still be fists and explosions and other visual eye candy. And, really, all it has to do is make more money than Superman Returns. That may not seem like much of a feat, but it too followed a rather unloved Supes film and at the time was the largest opening weekend for Warner Bros. From this inevitable future will undoubtedly come yet more films that will actively chip away at my soul. Like Justice League. Oh, and the animated features aren’t instilling any confidence either. In short, it’s something of a joke to say that the LEGO Batman film is the best from the latest crop. And it should be noted I already knew what I was getting into with that particular flick since I played through the game.

Don’t even get me started on Teen Titans GO!

Still Sick

Peanuts comic strip

Yeah, that’s basically how I feel about it, too.

Monday I took Mom and Paul out to lunch for their birthdays and Tuesday morning my mother called and asked me if I thought I had food poisoning. She and Paul had been sick pretty much since they got home, but as I’d been fine I told her I thought maybe they’d caught a bug. We had shared some appetizers, but we all had different things so it seemed unlikely it was food poisoning anyway. She then admitted they’d been feeling almost like they had the flu for a few days before so that was probably it.

Well, I think I caught whatever weird bug they had and I am pretty darn miserable. But at least I know what’s been wrong with me the last few days!

In any case, rest and fluids and all that for me.