With Daredevil: Season 2 having just premiered on Netflix, bringing exciting new characters and storylines, it is the perfect time to revisit what made the show so successful in its opening season. As the saying goes, sometimes we must go back before we can go forward.
Daredevil: Season 1 debuted on April 10th, 2015 to rave critical reviews and overwhelmingly positive fan support. It became readily apparent that Drew Goddard had developed a hit, and one that appealed to a broad audience. The filmmaking was distinguishably different from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and was a strong original take on comic book cinematic storytelling. It’s brilliantly entertaining and not only is it technically excellent in its action set pieces, but equally successful and engaging in its character development. Because of this, it’s quite a challenge to select top moments from the entire season, but let’s give it a try.
Here are the 12 Best Moments From Daredevil: Season 1
Of course, if you haven't watched the first season, there may be SPOILERS.
In one of the most disturbing and graphic moments of the series, we flashback to the time when a young Wilson Fisk (the future Kingpin) finally stands up to his father and kills him. Wilson's father had been brutally beating his mother, and Walter just sat there looking away. The tension builds with every strike of the father’s belt until Fisk decides to act, picking up a hammer and approaching his father. After his father turns around and dismisses him, Fisk strikes him in the back of his head. The moment ends with the mother undressing the father in preparation to cut him into pieces for disposal; as she does this, she hands Fisk his father’s cufflinks.
It’s an agonizingly raw and honest scene. The unflinching approach in depicting the domestic violence and then murder by Fisk, makes it hard to watch. The musical score and the sound design kept the scene on the edge of a knife. The repetitive sounds of the father beating the mother and the slow build of the soundtrack, created an immersive experience. It was is if the audience was there in the room with young Fisk.
Spoken only of in indirect and ominous terms up to this point, Wilson Fisk’s name is finally revealed in a gruesome fight between assassin John Healy and Matt. In the world of Hell’s Kitchen, Fisk has been built up as a devastatingly dangerous and intimidating figure. This is demonstrated so much so that Healy immediately commits suicide after revealing his name, understanding the potential consequences of his betrayal.
The brutality of that scene is contrasted with the following opening images of an art gallery with classical music playing; there is a lightness and elegance. The camera moves through the space, following the museum curator to whom we presume to, Fisk standing still in front of the large white canvas. As the curator explains the painting to him, the camera skillfully avoids revealing his face. It isn’t until she expresses her belief that the value of a piece of art is about how it makes one feel that we finally see Fisk’s face as he says: “it makes me feel alone.”
It is in this moment that Fisk is immediately established as a multi-dimensional character and “villain.” After hearing about him previously in terms of this uncompromising monster, the show doesn’t cut to him killing children or fighting dogs, instead we see his humanity.
With Fisk losing control of his organization and his emotions divided between his work and Vanessa, Gao decides to pay him a visit. It is a chilling scene that begins with Gao coming directly to his home, despite its supposedly secret location. The tension is palpable, right at the outset of the conversation.
The brilliance and uniqueness of this scene comes from its nuanced performances. Wai Ching Ho and Vincent D’Onofrio match each other beat for beat, putting on a veritable show. The calm power that Gao holds and Fisk’s shattered psychological state of mind, comes through in the numerous subtle choices each actor makes.
It can’t also be understated how well this scene is directed. The camera placement and the blocking excel in characterizing Gao and Fisk’s relationship. The image of Gao smiling as she walks away in the culminating wide shot, while Fisk sits there in distress, speaks volumes.
Flashing back from a fight scene in which Matt is losing, this scene stands out in its multidimensionality. It serves the purpose of motivating Matt to keep fighting while ultimately giving us a greater insight into his character.
In the scene, we see young Matt encouraged by his dad to finish his homework, despite his complains about being tired. This leads to what ended up being one of the most poignant moments in the show. Matt’s dad, initially to illustrate the downfalls of a uneducated life, brings his blind son’s hand to feel his battered and bruised face. As the moment lingers though, it illustrates the connection between the two and the pain that they both have endured.
This is a series defining scene; it represents the kind of character development that can be explored in abundance due to the choice to adapt this comic book character into a long form tv series as opposed to a film. It also is universally relatable in a way that our favorite larger than life comic book characters and stories aren’t always. Aliens coming down from the sky may be hard to relate to personally, as fun as it may be, but a moment of connection between a father and son is immediately recognizable.
In response to Karen’s unrelenting journalistic efforts and encounter with Fisk’s mother, Wesley has kidnapped her. Despite her receiving money from their organization, she continued her investigative work with Ben Urich at The New York Bulletin. Raising the stakes, Wesley takes out a gun and places it on the table. In a twist though, he doesn’t want to kill her but wants to employ her. After her refusal, he threatens her with all that he will do to every last one of her friends and loved ones if she doesn’t do as told. Momentarily distracted by his cell phone ringing, Karen grabs the gun and eventually kills him.
The significance of this moment and the impact it will have on the upcoming season, can’t be understated. We know now that Karen, in her character, has the ability to kill. There is no going back from murder. This event will affect her and her character’s evolution profoundly. Also, there was a subtle gem in the scene when she asks Wesley whether or not he believes it’s the first time she’s fired a gun. This possibly suggests a more violent past for her that can be explored in further episodes.
Much of this season is spent on how Matt Murdock has come to be who he is as a person and how he will come to be the Daredevil superhero we know and love. One such individual who has a major impact on that development is Stick, the mysterious older blind man who comes to train him. Before any training though, the two sit down and talk over ice cream and the result is one of the more powerful scenes in the series.
This scene comes at a time in young Matt’s life where he’s dealing with the loss of his father and his condition which he finds overwhelming. Stick, unlike others perhaps in his life, gives him a heavy dose of tough love. It is a moment that is multipurpose in its utility. Not only does it move the story forward, it also has a message of social commentary. At points in the conversation, Stick could be talking to almost anyone with a disability. He encourages Matt to not feel sorry for himself, expressing that he can still have a very large impact on the world.
It is a foundational scene in the series because it is the first time that Matt begins to actually realize how he can use the gifts which have been given to him. Before his abilities were a hindrance, now they empower him and all of his training both as a child and adult will build off of that idea.
Severely injured, Matt Murdock is found in the beginning of Episode 2 in a dumpster by one of Claire’s building neighbors. Throughout the episode, Claire works to nurse him back to health, addressing his many injuries. It is these moments, that sets the stakes for the rest of the series and introduce a pivotal relationship between Claire and Matt.
Importantly, it is established here that Matt Murdock isn’t invincible, he is a man and can be broken. This isn’t the type of comic book film where the hero can endure unthinkable injuries and just get back up and run a marathon. There is real danger in this world and Matt isn’t immune to it.
Additionally, through these engaging and often tender moments, Claire Temple is introduced. She is the first person to know him both as the man and the masked fighter. As a result, she not only helps him heal, but also provides him with invaluable advice. Rosario Dawson provides a nuanced and endearing performance here, resulting in a three dimensional character that is sure to continue to grow and evolve throughout the series.
After a date with Vanessa gone wrong, due to an interruption by Anatoly, a colleague in the Russian mob, Fisk is furious. His two worlds, personal and professional, collided in a messy way. This left Vanessa confused and unsure of her feelings and Fisk disappointed and angry. It is in this episode that we get to see the dual nature of his character. Having already seen his softness with Vanessa, we now will see his rage.
This is the infamous Wilson Fisk that we know from the comics. His fighting style is brutal, raw and primal. He beats Anatoly ruthlessly before placing him between the car door and frame and slams it against him until he is decapitated. With the imagery of the New York skyline in the background, this moment visually distinguishes itself, defining Hell’s Kitchen and the person, Fisk, who runs it. It also serves as a reminder of the stakes, emphatically pointing out the dangers of this world especially for all that live in its underbelly. Ending the episode on this note, the filmmakers show that they aren’t about to let up anytime soon; this series will be a powerful one.
Up to this point in the series, Matt and Foggy’s relationship has been unshakable. Their friendship has never been in question. The unmasking of Matt by Foggy allows for a true exploration of the connection between the two, how it started and whether or not it was ever really honest.
Foggy and Karen had been trying determinedly to reach Matt in the previous episode, failing over and over again. Eventually, Foggy goes looking for Matt, finding him lying on the ground in his apartment, severely injured. It is then that he unmasks him, revealing his friend as the masked vigilante.
This shakes the trust between the two to the core. The title of the tenth episode is aptly titled, as if it is a court case. The moments between the two play throughout as an argument for and against Matt’s actions outside the law, but they also to account for the lack of honesty in their relationship. For the series to continue, this reveal was inevitable. Their friendship had to be questioned, for it to grow and evolve in the following episodes and next season. This is handled perfectly, as there is no rosy conclusion at the end of their conversation. It’s offers a greater insight into their characters and has many moving emotional moments.
Desperately searching for Fisk, Matt finds himself caught in a trap; he was lured to an abandoned warehouse, only to discover Nobu waiting for him there. What occurs next is one of the most impressive fight sequences in the show.
The two match each other almost blow for blow, with Nobu having the slight edge. As the fight goes on, Matt begins to weaken. The choreography throughout is incredibly impressive, with the camera able to hold on shots longer than other films or shows due to how convincing the performances are. Most impressive and eye catching however is when Nobu catches on fire. It’s amazing visually, but what really elevates the scene is what happens next: they continue fighting.
This is the moment we’ve built up to the entire season: seeing Matt Murdock as Daredevil, costume and all. It not only lives up to the many expectations, it actually exceeds them. With an epic fight between Fisk and Daredevil, it’s a perfect culminating moment for the season.
We’re able to see Daredevil here as a far more intimidating force than we have seen a masked Matt previously, beginning with a dramatic moving low angle shot placing him in a position of power. Fisk immediately runs away, but to no avail; Daredevil quickly catches up to him. Fisk once again fights with his all out brute force and initially he seems like a more than even match, beating Daredevil down to the ground. But shortly later the tide turns, Daredevil regains his strength and defeats Fisk.
The final question from Fisk and one that will carry us into the second season is this: “Do you really think that this will change anything? You think one man in a silly little costume will make a difference?”
Attempting to push past his injuries, a visibly hindered Matt confronts the kidnappers of a young boy. The resulting fight is one of the most visually complex scenes of the season. The entire fight, according to filmmakers, takes place in a single shot. It’s a filmmaking feat that quite simply put, raises the bar for the show and separates it out from the pack in terms of dramatic television programming.
The choreography, inspired by cult favorites like Oldboy and The Raid: Redemption, is intricate and highly entertaining. It’s especially challenging technically due to the fact that there are no apparent cuts. With a deft and confident hand, the tension of this scene is maintained through a slow moving camera and multiple changes in composition. It’s a moment that is paid off in a big way as Matt walks away with the child in his arms.
This scene was so successful, that it became one of the most widely talked about moments among fans and critics alike. The high level of execution is quite astounding, the type that leaves one shaking his or her head in awe.
Have any favorite moments that we missed? Please leave them in the comments section below. Boiling down this strong first season into a single list of moments was a greatly challenging task and with the second season now available for viewing, we all will likely have a much larger list of favorite moments from this show soon.