Action Blu-ray Review

'Daredevil: The Complete First Season' Blu-ray Review: Marvel and Netflix's television universe begins with a bang

February 7, 2017Ben MK

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been thriving for the better part of the last decade, thanks to movies like Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: Civil War. But while similar efforts to bring together heroes and villains from disparate pages of Marvel comic book lore on the small screen are still in their infancy, progress is fast being made with series like Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.

As the first show in Marvel and Netflix's master plan, Daredevil lays a solid foundation for things to come. An origin story for the superhero dubbed "The Man Without Fear" — who debuted in April 1964's "Daredevil #1" — season one eclipses the much-maligned 2003 Daredevil movie, introducing viewers to Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), a blind lawyer with superhuman senses and agility who, along with his friend and business partner, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), is committed to bringing justice to Hell's Kitchen, New York, one beleaguered citizen at a time.

Of course, there are some wrongs that the legal system just can't right; and so, by night, Matt takes the law into his own hands, instilling fear into the hearts of criminals as a black-masked vigilante. Going up against Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio), a fearsome underworld kingpin with ties to both Japanese and Chinese organized crime syndicates, Matt finds himself caught up in Fisk's battle with the Russian mob, as he attempts to stop Fisk from destroying Hell's Kitchen as part of his twisted scheme to build a new and improved Big Apple.

The result is a much more grounded take on superhero mythology than television viewers may be used to — one that delves into the tragic backstories and psychological underpinnings of its characters as much as it delivers on gritty, comic book confrontations. Think Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, and you'll have a pretty good idea of the direction that series creator Drew Goddard takes Daredevil in throughout season one's thirteen-episode arc:

  • Into the Ring - Lawyers Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson defend Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), a woman accused of murdering her co-worker. Meanwhile, at night, Daredevil takes the law into his own hands.
  • Cut Man - Flashbacks reveal more about Matt's life, as he opens up to a nurse named Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), after she finds him battered and bloodied.
  • Rabbit in a Snowstorm - Matt and Foggy are recruited by James Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore), right-hand man to crime boss Wilson Fisk, to defend an accused murderer. Meanwhile, Karen digs deeper into the suspicious activities at Union Allied, her former employer.
  • In the Blood - Fisk becomes enamored by an art gallery operator named Vanessa Marianna (Ayelet Zurer), while the escalating feud between Fisk and the Russian mob puts Claire in the crossfire.
  • World on Fire - The Russians seek retribution for the death of one of their own. Meanwhile, Foggy's and Karen's attempts to help the victimized residents of a Hell's Kitchen slum puts them in danger.
  • Condemned - Daredevil becomes a wanted man, after he's framed for the chaos in Hell's Kitchen.
  • Stick - Matt's old mentor, Stick (Scott Glenn), returns to Hell's Kitchen with some sage advice and a request, enlisting his former student's help to destroy a weapon called Black Sky.
  • Shadows in the Glass - As Fisk deals with the fallout from the destruction of Black Sky, memories of his troubled past come back to haunt him. Meanwhile, Daredevil reveals himself to reporter Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall).
  • Speak of the Devil - The plan to stop Fisk takes an unexpected turn, after he makes a play for the mayor's office. As a result, Daredevil's eagerness to bring Fisk down has him playing right into his enemy's hands.
  • Nelson v. Murdock - Things get tense between Matt and Foggy, after Foggy discovers Matt's secret. Meanwhile, Karen and Ben pay a visit to Fisk's mother, to learn more about his past.
  • The Path of the Righteous - Matt receives some advice from those closest to him, while Fisk faces a grim prospect, after a campaign fundraiser takes a deadly turn.
  • The Ones We Leave Behind - Daredevil tries to hit Fisk where it hurts, by disrupting his illegal drug operations. Meanwhile, Fisk takes revenge for the death of his friend.
  • Daredevil - Daredevil finally gets a proper crime-fighting costume, and a crackdown on the crooked cops, journalists and lawyers on Fisk's payroll leads to a violent showdown.
Season one of Daredevil features a spectacular-looking 1080p transfer that proves to be a step-up, even factoring in Netflix's already excellent HD presentation, with image detail that's consistently sharp, deep blacks and superb contrast levels (resulting in zero murkiness during nighttime fight scenes), and top-notch color saturation (from the striking, comic-book-inspired lighting to the crimson hue of dripping blood). Sound-wise, each episode comes equipped with a robust 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound mix that channels dialogue and music with crystal clarity, and which is bolstered by an assortment of punches, kicks, gunfire, and crackles of thunder and lightning.

Disney's four-disc Blu-ray release does not include any bonus features.

Daredevil: The Complete First Season is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of November 8th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and German DTS-HD High Resolution 5.1 tracks. The film is presented with English SDH and German subtitles. The total runtime is 11 Hrs. 43 Mins.

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