What The Marvel Cinematic Universe Should Learn From ‘Daredevil’

Pretty much everybody binge-watched Daredevil this weekend, if Twitter is to be believed; months of hype paid off with an enormously popular show. And one, it turns out, the rest of Marvel’s cinematic universe needs to take a cue from. For example:

Villains Matter

My biggest complaint about Guardians of the Galaxy, just as an example, was the fact the Ronan the Accuser does almost nothing in the movie but take meetings and try to crash a ship into a planet. We don’t even get a sense of why he’s doing this, beyond Thanos being his disappointed father figure. We never get a sense of just why everyone’s scared of him. Almost every MCU movie is like this: Most of the time, the villain’s just eeeeeevil. Part of the reason Loki is so popular is at least he’s got kind of a right to be pissed.

Compare that to Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk. By the time he’s introduced, we’ve seen what his proxies are capable of and the dangerous people who work with him. But the first action of Fisk himself is to awkwardly flirt with, and stumble into charming, a gallery owner. Over the course of that episode, we learn a bit about Fisk and see him as a person. By the time the episode ends with Fisk committing an act of shocking violence, we can’t condone his fury but we can understand it.

It’s something the show sticks to. Fisk is a great villain in part because he’s not just defined by his day job; he’s got a personality, and a relatable one. And his final moments are bittersweet; his plans have fallen apart, but he keeps one thing that matters to him.

It Helps When It Has A Theme

The MCU movies generally just want to be fun, and stop there. Nothing is wrong with that, but just like you’ll get sick of chocolate if you eat it all the time, you want something a bit different out of superhero movies beyond a certain point.

Which is what makes Daredevil so refreshing. Yeah, it’s about a ninja punching mobsters, but Fisk’s dirty tactics to force people out of their homes are not only real, but a serious problem. Similarly, Matt Murdock’s struggles with the morality, or lack thereof, of what he does is a far cry from Tony Stark flying into a sovereign country and killing a bunch of people mostly as a form of therapy. It’s a TV show about a vigilante that’s more ambivalent about its nominal hero than many, and that’s something the MCU could use.

We Need To See More Of The Fallout

You know what was nice to see in Daredevil? This:

In fact, the entire series unfolds largely thanks to the Avengers. Without the Chitauri invasion, the corruption Wilson Fisk spreads would be impossible. But if you don’t watch the series, you’d be forgiven for thinking Tony Stark just paid for new buildings and nobody ever died. It would be nice if the movies acknowledged more the real human cost of the Hulk punching a dragon through a building. Like, maybe a passing line of dialogue?

Daredevil has its flaws, which we’ll get to. But as it stands, it has plenty of virtues that the MCU should be imitating.