Netflix's Daredevil is not your mother's Marvel universe.
In fact, it's not like anything we've seen in the Marvel universe to date, at least in the Marvel TV shows and movies.
But just how different is Netflix's series from Agents of SHIELD, The Avengers, Captain America and other Marvel entertainment properties?
The answer is very: Daredevil deviates from just about everything from what we've seen so far. Here are five ways it differs from the usual Marvel universe fare:
Daredevil is dark, gritty and violent.
The first thing you'll notice when watching the debut episode of Daredevil is that the entire look of the series is completely different from the bright vibrant colors we're used to seeing in the Marvel universe. Instead, we've got a lot of blacks, white and grays, from the suits that Matt Murdock wears to the dark alleyways and streets we see Daredevil fighting on. Other colors seem muted, as if Hell's Kitchen really is the dirty little secret of New York.
These blacks, white and grays set the scene for the world that Murdock lives in: a world full of crime and corruption. It is also a world of extraordinary violence and we see this violence in the Netflix series because Netflix can show us things that PG-13 movies and ABC TV shows cannot.
In other words, if blood makes you squeamish, you might want to skip watching Daredevil, because we see a lot of it.
But it isn't just the violence we see that takes its toll on the characters. Hell's Kitchen is a product of that violence, as are the characters that live in it. We see how violence shapes every character in the series: not just in our superhero, but also in our villains.
The superhero and supervillain aren't really super.
Perhaps the biggest departure from what we've seen in Daredevil compared to other Marvel TV series and movies is that the Netflix series doesn't give us people with superpowers. Although Daredevil is a blind man with heightened senses, this is actually downplayed much more than you would expect from a superhero offering.
The same goes for the villains of the series, particularly in Fisk and his henchmen. The only superpower these guys have is money and influence, and we see that such things are much more terrifying than Loki.
Also, Murdock isn't alone in fighting against Fisk and his cronies. He has normal people fighting with him, investigating the bad guys and helping him uncover the truth, people without superpowers.
The morality of Daredevil is less obvious.
Murdock spends a lot of time discussing morality with a priest throughout the course of the series, and we see that there's a very thin line between good and evil and that sometimes it's hard to tell which is which. This is different from the us vs. them mentality we've seen in other Marvel properties, when you know exactly who the bad guy is. Sometimes it's hard to tell that Murdock is the good guy, especially when he beats up and tortures people for information.
In Daredevil, we get a glimpse into supposed bad guy Fisk and the circumstances that created him. Not only do we find ourselves sympathizing with the villain, but at times, we understand his motives. In fact, we even eventually realize that he and Murdock are trying to do the same thing - clean up the city - although their methods are often different.
Daredevil is more diverse.
This is an obvious one, but there's a lot more diversity in Daredevil than in other Marvel offerings. Perhaps that's because of the Hell's Kitchen setting, where many diverse groups of people and ethnicities live and work every day. We hear a multitude of accents, both male and female, throughout the series, giving it a broader scope than anything we've seen Marvel do yet.
Even better? One of our good guys is a gal, in the guise of Karen Page, who is as vital to helping save the city as Murdock himself. There's also nurse Claire Temple, who was almost a love interest for Murdock, but chose not to involve herself with a guy so determined in getting himself killed. On the villain side, Vanessa Marianna falls in love with Fisk and stays loyal to him, even after learning about his true nature: we have a feeling she's drawn to power as much as he is. Madame Gao is also a force of nature as the head of the drug cartel keeping Hell's Kitchen in heroine: we wouldn't want to go against her in a dark alley.
Also, Daredevil includes African-American actor Vondie Curtis-Hall as reporter Ben Urich, a character who is white in the Marvel comics.
When characters die, they stay dead.
We've seen this a lot in the Marvel universe: a character dies only to return to life later down the road. It happened to Bucky Barnes, Loki, Agent Coulson, Pepper Potts and Groot. But when a character dies in Daredevil, they don't come back. We attended a lot of funerals with Murdock and gang throughout the course of Daredevil's first 13 episodes, and no one came back from the dead.
This is important because it raises the stakes for the characters involved in Daredevil. The threat of death is very real and each death weighs on those main characters who believe it's their fault. In fact, the series ends with the death of a major player in the first season, and it leaves us thinking that those left behind may not ever truly recover from that loss.