Last year, Marvel released the first season of Daredevil on Netflix to some massive critical acclaim. Not only had the series managed to provide fans with an accurate adaptation of the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, but it had also created an entirely new world in the superhero genre, a new corner for comic book adaptations and series to play in, which was perfected in the first season of Jessica Jones later in the year.
Now, the studio is bringing back Matt Murdock and his friends for the second season of Daredevil, with new showrunners Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez at the helm taking over for Steven S. DeKnight, and the introduction of iconic comic book characters like Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher, and Elodie Yung’s Elektra, who come into the season with a whole new set of problems for Matt Murdock to (try) and take care of.
Picking up about where the first season left off, Matt Murdock is still busy cleaning up the streets of Hell’s Kitchen at night, stopping muggings and saving victims from possible kidnappers, and fighting injustice in a courtroom by day. When news of a new player with military precision enters town though, decimating gangs on their home turf, Matt and his friends, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) are faced with a new kind of darkness that they haven’t quite seen before, as the lines between heroism and vigilantism continue to blur.
That’s about all I’ll tell you about the new season because Daredevil season two is better experienced when you have no idea what might happen next, or how each episode is going to end. Where the first season was seeped in darkness though, Daredevil season two is a few shades brighter aesthetically alone, with the neon signs of Hell’s Kitchen reflecting off the dark streets and walls. The new season also takes on a different approach to its action as well, and rather than being shot in an entirely Raid-esque fashion, it feels much more similar to that of a Sam Peckinpah film, cutting back and forth between slow motion and real time. The difference may rub some fans the wrong way, but personally, it seemed like a slicker, and organic evolution stylistically for the series to make moving on from its first season.
And in case you were wondering, yes there is a homage to the hallway fight scene from the last season and while it is clearly trying to one-up season one’s main staple fight, once you get past its obvious intentions, the set piece itself is able to shine in some big ways and continues to prove that the best kind of comic book fights aren’t the one done with CGI aliens, but bare-knuckled fists and maybe a chain or two.
The series’ direction and action manages to transition seamlessly over from the first as well, with a number of directors returning to helm episodes throughout the sophomore outing. None of that would matter though, if not for the acting talent onscreen and before we even get to the supporting players this season, I’m happy to say that Charlie Cox is still spectacular as Matt Murdock onscreen. When we meet him at the beginning of the season, his Matt seems confident in his position as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, managing to balance his double lives quite well considering he gets beat up every night. But as his confidence continues to waver and he becomes more isolated throughout the 13-episode run, Cox manages to blend the loneliness and stubborn qualities of Matt well, especially during the scenes in which he’s forced to try and match the intensity brought on by either Yung or Bernthal.
Entering into the comic book world in new, grand fashion as well – Elodie Yung stands out as Elektra, a fiery and fierce iteration of the beloved comic book character, that even when she’s causing problems, you can’t help but love her at least a little bit. Seeing her handle her own in the fight scenes alongside Murdock’s Daredevil is a refreshing change of pace for comic book adaptations as well, something we’ve only really seen done to such an extant with Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow. Hers and Charlie Cox’s chemistry is believable enough that you understand Elektra’s appeal even when she makes you want to rip your hair out, and the way the series gives backstory to her character throughout the season, while she wreaks havoc in the present day, is balanced well.
None of the other actors or characters this season though, can take the spotlight away from Jon Bernthal’s Punisher. From the minute he shows up, he has a presence that few other heroes or villains onscreen have been able to match. He has very little to say or do in the first two episodes, letting his actions speak louder than words, but it’s a little farther into the season when he cements himself as one of the best comic book adaptations of recent memory as he and Daredevil struggle to convince the other of their way of thinking. Blending militaristic tendencies with a haunted, and constantly tortured exterior, this is very much The Punisher that comic book fans have been waiting for. The fact that’s he’s also very good at killing people onscreen just makes it all that much better.
This is not to say the season is perfect though, and while the much faster pacing is an improvement over the sometimes sluggish episodes and sequences in the first season, it does feel like some crucial moments of internal logic and plot beats are skipped over. This won’t necessarily hurt the viewing experience all that much while its happening, as much as you might begin to realize it the longer into the season you get or during the breaks in between episodes. It’s clear that the introduction of both The Punisher and Elektra as the two new main characters this season was a brilliant, broad move on the creative team’s part as well, but while they do cause their fair share of problems for Hell’s Kitchen, the lack of a real, constant antagonistic force throughout becomes noticeable after a couple of episodes in, as the writers begin to recycle and shuffle new gangsters in and out for Bernthal’s Punisher to kill, or Murdock to try and put behind bars.
You get the feeling when watching Daredevil season two though that similar to Castle himself, the series is more focused than it has ever been before, and more intent on maintaining rapt attention from those watching it. So I imagine whether or not you end up liking its predecessor more will merely come down to personal preference. Even so, it still provides some of the best onscreen superhero material that you can find nowadays, and no matter how flawed or clunky Daredevil season two can feel, you still get the feeling while watching it that it’s one of the few comic book adaptations to truly reach the same potential and height of its source material. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more exhilarating moment in any recent comic book adaptation film or otherwise as well, than the first time that Daredevil and Punisher cross paths in this season.
Daredevil season 2 will premiere on Netflix on March 18th.
Make sure to keep checking back for more updates — right here on GeekNation.
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