My dad has compulsion; it manifests itself in the collection of… things. He’s done stamps, rocks, photography equipment, antique watches, Honiton lace, guitars, comics, coins, guns, jewelry, and flow-blue china. These are the ones I know about–there’s probably dozens of ones I don’t.
The problem with my dad’s passing obsessions is that he’ll lose interest in them and they sit around. About a year ago, one of my dad’s friends died recently, and dad ended up being called to help with the estate. Unbeknownst to my dad, his friend was a hoarder. TLC-scale bad. A week later, dad was newly converted to the Zen lifestyle.
He wanted me to take all his old collections off his hands and sell them. I’m sure my dad told me about his hoarder friend to imply that it’s going to be something I either deal with now or later. So this is how I ended up with 109 issues of The Savage Sword of Conan which I sold for $21.78 right before Easter.
I’m going to need my $21.78 to buy more wine before I try to find a buyer(s)(s)(s)… for his collection of 600 Indian Head American pennies.
Of all my dad’s collecting fads, the comics are actually the one I remember best. He basically collected anything he could get his hands on, so there was quite a motley selection, and we kids read them.
I mostly fixated on Marvel comics. My favourites, actually, were X-Men and Daredevil. I liked these emotionally complicated, flawed heroes, and they actually had an impact on me for a long time during my writing fiction phase in my teenaged years. They were human. Broken on the inside. Gifted with power, sure, but somehow they never seemed to be unrelateable on some level like the god-like Superman and the billionaire Batman. They were never too much more. If that makes any sense.
Daredevil, in particular, was unusual for a comic book character. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, well, he’s blind. And his 1964 costume was horrible, but let’s face it: it was 1964, and the whole thing was cheese. Radioactive cheese. Remember, it was 1964; radiation created superpowers, space invaders, and zombies.
Anyway, enter the early 80s, during which the whole Daredevil series got a much-needed reboot and improvement in sense from one relatively unknown (at that time) Frank Miller. If you’re wondering why that name sounds familiar, he went on to redo Batman and also wrote Sin City and 300. Frank Miller transformed the hot-dog monstrosity into a character that ended up being one of Marvel’s most popular, and this was the Daredevil dude that my dad started collecting and I fell in like with.
When the Daredevil movie came out with Ben Affleck playing Matt Murdock in it back in 2003, I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.
OK, I’ll level. I was cheesed off that they’d dare let him touch one of my childhood comic heroes. I’d already had to suffer watching George Clooney wielding Bat Nipples, and I didn’t even like Batman. But watching Affleck ruin Daredevil? Wasn’t on my agenda. While I’ve since developed a great respect for the man in the industry, I’m not afraid to point out he’s way better behind the camera than in front of it.
There was quite a bit of franchise investment in making comic book cheese for the silver screen. Like it was 1960-something all over again. Or perhaps they thought if they threw a big enough name at a character and told them to act like a screaming pulp fiction actress, we wouldn’t notice that the UFOs were hanging on fishing line. I’m not sure.
Also–this: I don’t actually have any words to describe this. Except maybe kill me now.
So really, you can’t blame me.
12 years passed. Then Netflix asked me if I wanted early screening to see the new one, which in all honestly, I had not yet heard one thing about. I am not ashamed to admit that this was my first reaction.
So I texted hubs, who unsurprisingly was actually more hip to the fact that it was being made than I was. He was like, “Oh! That’s the dude who’s in Boardwalk Empire. He’s gooood.” And so I watched the trailer. And that’s when I got excited.
When I took screenwriting, one of our two (major) screenwriting assignments was actually a losing proposition: we needed to make a film adaptation of a book or series, the prof knowing full-well that most of us would fail miserably. But he was a smart prof. Trying to do something that even Hollywood usually screws up doing correctly put us right in the middle of first-hand experience with the whys of why we were falling on our faces.
1) Movie screenplays, in a rule of thumb, translate as 1 page = 1 minute of screen-time. Ergo, most screenplays max out between 90-120 minutes/pages, and most books are at least double that. So, not a lot of time for complex character development and complex storytelling. You have one or the other.
2) In books, there’s a lot that doesn’t happen visually. And voice-overs, including narration, are (mostly) for losers and lazy hacks, because if it’s important to know what’s going on in someone’s head, it’s important that it gets shown and interpreted. Visually. This is a Robert McKee thing, and he’s got something of a point. I’m not saying one can never break this rule, but I can count on one hand the number of times that voice over was an important, well used part of storytelling. So God help you if you use voice-over, my friends.
But I digress.
I got my hands on the first five episodes of Daredevil and was immediately happy about their choices in style… It’s nothing like the Marvel movies. Like comic #1, we are plunged right into the action. But then the action keeps sort of continuing right on–a low-level, rough-and-tumble, gritty rock-em-sock-em film-noir-lite that’s gradually accelerating and increasing in force.
Murdock’s like a ninja. A boxing ninja who likes to stealth up to people so he can punch them in the back of the skull.
There’s a lot of Frank Miller’s visual style in there. I’m not sure who was responsible for the pacing, though, which–like a lot of film noir–tends to run on the slower side. It’s not bad. It’s different.
You’ll learn in the first 90 seconds how he becomes blind, and the first few episodes details some of Murdock’s early relationship with his father. But other than that, the character development and unfurling of the plot? It’s… leisurely. If you don’t believe me, well, at the end of episode 5 of 13 he still doesn’t have the red suit. These are hour-long episodes, and we still don’t know really anything of why he ever decided he was going to become a vigilante. We don’t know how he trained. How he lived. I don’t really even have anything to spoil if I wanted to.
But I want more. And that’s kind of a good sign in a TV series.
Without ego–as a film student? I’ve watched a lot of movies and shows. But I’ve never really seen anything quite like this. Because it’s so different, I can’t help but be intrigued. I’ve been chomping on the bit, skulking around my house in the dark, waiting for today to happen so I can get at the rest.
Netflix, unlike regular broadcast TV, has fewer restrictions, and I applaud that they are willing to push the boundaries to give us that different content. I don’t know how long the Daredevil show will go, but I’m going to take this ride.