'Progressive' Changes Part One: Adaptations

Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock in Daredevil

What am I looking at?

Justin Knight

By Justin Knight @OptimusJut

After the film Network was released in 1976, its writer, Paddy Chayefsky (for which he won an Oscar), appeared on Dinah Shore's chat show to talk about the film and other smaller subjects. Network itself was a satire of television at the time and would actually predict the crap that is Reality TV today; but it was something Chayefsky would say during the conversation with Shore that would stick with me for a long time after I had heard it, because it matches how I feel about television to this day. Shore asked him, at one point, if he himself liked television, and Chayefsky summed up how he felt about it brilliantly: "I love television, I just don't like what they've done to it."

I rarely watch television myself at all these days. Reality TV is everywhere like a damn rash and some of the modern shows seem to feel like there are elements in there to tick a requirement box as opposed to tell a good story. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm married to a woman who watches a lot of shows -- and have a bunch of children who seem to have worshipped the device mounted on my wall -- I don't think I would have Sky (here in the UK) and would probably use it just for gaming. I'm also quite paranoid when a comic book series is adapted for television, especially one I like -- shows like Arrow, The Flash, Gotham and so on -- I just avoid to dodge the disappointment because I know that there will be something about it I will hate. Thankfully, I have Netflix, and when I saw a series based on the Marvel comic series Daredevil and Alias, I was just as paranoid, but I chose to put all that aside and check them out.

Daredevil is brilliant, to put it bluntly. The main character is someone who is trying to clean up the streets of his hometown but is well and truly over his head and had to learn some hard lessons along the way. It is an origin story that paid off with its setup by the end of season one and laid some great foundations for season two, but more on that later. Films and series live or die on their casting and Daredevil nailed it well, and truly, Charlie Cox plays Matt Murdock with some restrain and control but is much more brutal when in costume. Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood) plays Karen Page, who comes to work for Nelson and Murdock after they help her at the beginning of the series. Elden Henson plays the cocky Foggy Nelson and for the hulking great Kingpin. They also cast Vincent D'Onofrio and he is dangerous in every sense of the word. Within the other cast members is the delightful Rosario Dawson as the Nurse Claire Temple, who helps Murdock after he is critically injured during one of his adventures.

Fans were pleased when season two was announced, and were even more excited when it was announced that Elektra and the Punisher would be featured. Then, fans went crazy with excitement when it was announced who was playing the characters. Elodie Young (Jinx in G.I. Joe: Retaliation) will be playing Elektra and Jon Bernthal (Shane from The Walking Dead) with be The Punisher. This has been the first time since I can remember that I loved the first series of something and then found myself eagerly awaiting the second.

However, I found my excitement for the Netflix series Alias -- now renamed Jessica Jones -- more cautious when I found out who had developed it for the small screen. Melissa Rosenberg, the writer who had adapted the Twilight books into films. I still chose to watch it though as I really wanted to be pleasantly surprised by the series. I had enjoyed the comic series a lot as it was just so dark and gritty and not like a lot of other series that Marvel published. I was saddened that it ended. As much as I tried to like Jessica Jones (and I really did), I hated it and was glad when I finished watching it. I think the only reason that I finished it was just so that I could see how they wrapped it up in the end, but the nasty taste it has left in my mouth had made me sure I will not watch season two. With regards to the series itself, there were many things I did not like about it. Krysten Ritter was a bad casting choice for the main character. In the comic she is someone who has hit rock bottom and is getting back on her feet as best she can, but in the television series she is just an a**hole, or as Luke Cage describes her in later episodes: "a piece of shit." The character of Jeri Hogarth in the comic was a man, but changed to a woman (and also a lesbian), played by Carrie-Anne Moss. This came across as not only a change to tick a box to appeal to a wider audience, but also served as padding to the story, due to the character's affair with her assistant and pending divorce from her partner... padding which comes to a messy conclusion. Luke Cage -- played by Mike Colter -- is an isolated character due to pain from the loss of his wife, and the villain of the series is Kilgrave -- played by David Tennant -- a character who certainly enjoys the power he has.

The problem I found with this series was that it did not contain any likable characters. Granted, Moss was playing her part as such and she did a great job with it, but when the main character comes across as unlikable you know there is a problem. The villain was more irritating than any other I have ever come across, and I felt he outstayed his welcome before the series was at the halfway mark. Then I remembered that the story is based on the final four issues of the Alias series, which she deals with Kilgrave (aka the Purple Man) once and for all. A four-issue story was stretched out to a thirteen-episode series and I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised with the amount of filler that was added.

Of course, my views in this blog will easily be brushed aside, especially by those other writers out there who love the series. Amanda Marcotte wrote a piece about it for Salon (a site that has published articles in defence of paedophiles) and labelled the comic series as a feminist one. I never saw it as such and have to wonder if her own personal politics got in the way when she wrote that piece. Anyone who is confused by me writing that can look up what she said about the three boys accused of rape, who were eventually proven to be innocent during the Duke Lacrosse scandal. Then we have Arthur Chu, who wrote a piece about it and claimed with the piece's title that it "absorbed the anxieties of Gamergate." I saw the title and wondered if he was one something or not but then glancing down he referred to the series as a "feminist achievement," which made me shake my head even more. I am tired of people putting unwanted politics into storytelling these days, but Chu made himself look quite stupid with this piece as for starters it had NOTHING to do with Gamergate, and why he would claim otherwise was idiotic. Then I remember he is a male feminist and they are some of the worst out there. Him, and those like him that have a shit-stirring presence on social media and block those whose views they cannot handle. It amazes me that the article has its comments section open. A glance down that section showed quite a few people that found his article quite laughable.

Netflix will also be bringing out a series for Luke Cage himself. I can only hope that the character has more life breathed into him without Jessica Jones to drag him down, this series and others will eventually lead to a Defenders miniseries and I will look forward to see how that turns out. I certainly hope that the Punisher qualifies for his own series mainly down to the fact they got the right guy to play him. I look forward to season two of Daredevil, but with Jessica Jones season two, I think I'll pass.

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