It’s been approximately two years after the events of The Avengers and New York City is barely recovering from the disaster that rained hellfire from the skies and nearly wiped it from the face of the Earth.
The show doesn’t waste time with the long-winded origin story of Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox). Instead, his past is revealed through bite-sized flashbacks with his father Jack (John Patrick Hayden). Within the first five minutes we’re hurled right into the action with Matt clad in all-black (much unlike the flashier superheroes in his world) busting a human trafficking ring and violently taking down several thugs.
The fights are brutal to watch and brutal to hear as the sound of blows landing and bones cracking often make you wince or look away. Often times Matt gets his ass handed to him. He’s only human, after all. No high-tech armor, superhuman strength, or magic hammer exists to aid him in his battles. His heightened senses aren’t even presented like they’re supernatural abilities. Whether in a fight or simply talking to someone else, Matt just pays special attention to the sounds around him and reacts accordingly.
This is a side of the MCU you’ve never seen before: human trafficking, corrupt cops, and all the suggestive themes, coarse languages, and adult content that you won’t be seeing any time soon on the next episode of Agents of SHIELD.
“So you’re just a pair of Good Samaritans?”
The pilot effectively sets the stage for the rest of the series by slowly introducing us to other characters in Matt’s life as well as laying the groundwork for the rest of the season. We meet Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), Matt’s college buddy and the other half of their fledgling law firm. The two have good on-screen chemistry, feeding off each other’s wisecracks (Does everybody in this version of Earth possess the gift of wit or was it just a tone set by Joss Whedon’s involvement in the inception of the MCU?). Our protagonists aren’t Tony Stark. They’re just a pair of broke lawyers starved for cash and looking for clients.
With that being said, Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) soon enters their lives. She’s been framed for murder while harboring her own secrets regarding her former employers at Union Allied Construction. Her case, though seemingly resolved by the end of the episode, is the situation that introduces our protagonists to the dirty goings-on of their city and right into the crosshairs of the series’ antagonists.
Welcome to Hell’s Kitchen.