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'Marvel's Daredevil' renewed for season 2 – here's what the show did right

The Netflix superhero drama 'Daredevil' was recently renewed for a second season. Making a superhero TV show isn't always a winning proposition, but according to critics, factors like a strong cast and having its setting be a single neighborhood have separated 'Daredevil' from other shows.

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    'Daredevil' stars Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer who fights crime.
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Netflix’s TV series about the Marvel superhero Daredevil has reportedly been renewed for a second season. 

“Marvel’s Daredevil” debuted its first 13-episode season online on April 10 and stars Charlie Cox of “The Theory of Everything” as Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer who fights crime. The show co-stars actors Deborah Ann Woll as Matt’s secretary Karen Page, Elden Henson as Matt’s law partner Foggy Nelson, and Vincent D’Onofrio as the villain the Kingpin.

The character of Daredevil was brought to the big screen with a movie of the same name that was released in 2003 and starred “Gone Girl” actor Ben Affleck as Matt as well as Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, and Michael Clarke Duncan. The movie was not well-received critically, though a sequel based on Garner’s character, titled “Elektra,” came out in 2005. It didn’t do very well with reviewers, either. 

By contrast, the “Daredevil” Netflix series has gotten good reviews and has done so during a time when a superhero TV series is by no means a sure success. The CW’s superhero TV show pairing, “Arrow” and “The Flash,” have been successes, while ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” got off to a rocky start, though IGN writer Eric Goldman wrote that a recent episode of the show demonstrated “how much this series has grown and evolved in the past year.” Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly writer Darren Orf called the first season of the Fox Batman origin drama “Gotham” “troubled… Gotham is struggling," and NBC's "Constantine" has not been well-received critically.

So what has “Daredevil” done right? Hitfix writer Alan Sepinwall wrote that “producers Drew Goddard and Steven DeKnight do something very smart… in not devoting themselves entirely to telling a superhero origin story… the ‘Daredevil’ stunt team does an excellent job of conveying how a single man, even one with enhanced senses, could be such a threat to the underworld… Cox deftly balances the lightness of Matt the lawyer with the steeliness and Catholic guilt that defines him as Daredevil… Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll are incredibly likeable… D’Onofrio is everything the show could ask for in an arch villain… this feels in every way a series committed to and unapologetic about its comic book origins, [while] some comic book adaptations struggle to appeal to the widest possible audience.”

Jack Hamilton of Slate wrote that the show “takes itself and its audience seriously while avoiding either pretentious brooding or fanboy pandering… it’s the first modern small-screen comic adaptation that doesn’t seem to be lustily glancing at the multiplex… This is most certainly the 'Marvel Universe' but with none of the hackish cross-promotion of ABC’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’…  All of this is helped along by unusually strong acting.”

Meanwhile, Washington Post critic Hank Stuever noted that “’Daredevil’ smartly contains its story to a neighborhood, rather than a planet.”

Stuever found that the dialogue is “hammy” but wrote that “Daredevil” “shows some impressive instinct for elevating the [superhero] form… Cox winds up being just another guy in a TV show [but] Vincent D’Onofrio is a convincingly sinister presence.”

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