Ever since Daredevil premiered on Netflix just last year. My fandom for Marvel’s TV/Film universe had reached a new high as this was the thing that finally pushed me into reading comics. I’ve read Frank Miller’s epic saga from the Man without Fear origin story to the Elektra saga to his run-in’s with the Punisher and the explosive Born Again story arc.
A second season wasn’t guaranteed, at first, but the effusive praise from the first season being so unique and so mature than every other Marvel property was too good to ignore. It’s a tall order trying to top an excellent debut season with new showrunners and new characters and the absence of a key cast member. Can Daredevil avoid the sophomore jinx with this new dynamic shift?
The answer is a resounding hell yes!!
Daredevil reacquaints us with Matt and company sometime after the first season ended. Hell’s Kitchen is in a much better place with Wilson Fisk behind bars and there’s a huge void left in the criminal underworld that yearns to be filled and Matt’s vigilantism has caused a seismic impact as a new vigilante appears to take aim at every low-life in this neighbourhood.
The internet broke when word broke out that Jon Bernthal was casted as The Punisher and I can soundly say that he lives up to every bit of hype. The Punisher has been attempted quite a bit of times throughout the years to so-so results. Here, with the winning binge-watching formula of Netflix, Jon’s take on the Punisher kills all those adaptations in cold blood. Basically, this is the definitive take of the character. He’s equal parts terrifying and traumatic (in a good way) and the best thing about this version is that it has the added benefit of time and it aids his character arc.
Seeing Frank walk around Hell’s Kitchen killing thugs is like seeing The Terminator. With his cold, dead stare and killer instinct. The entire first episode revolves around his arrival into town. The Punisher/Daredevil dynamic is a fascinating one. It’s a clash of styles, of ideologies and just a simple character scene is as potent as any fight between them (and there’s quite a few in fact, I’ll get to it later). Punisher has been positioned as a pseudo-villain with his binary approach to crime, however, and it’s a testament to the wonderful writing, you can sympathize with Castle’s MO. It’s a welcome thematic extension from the previous season.
The same reasons why the Punisher works can easily be applied to Elektra. Elodie Yung, like Bernthal, nails this character. She’s deadly, sexy and playful. Elodie brought an edge to the character that Jennifer Garner lacked. Her chemistry with Matt is addictive. In a lot of ways, she’s the devil on Matt’s shoulder and it’s a joy seeing her and Daredevil together on screen. It’s something Frank Miller would be proud of.
As much as Elektra and Punisher steal the show, the core cast has improved tremendously from the first season. Charlie Cox is far more comfortable this time around as Matt Murdock/Daredevil. He’s got a swagger and a confidence now that he’s established as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Deborah Ann Woll and Elden Henson stepped up big time, as well. Karen’s arc has taken a new path in the wake of Ben Urich’s death. Deborah brings a tenacity to Karen Page that I found admirable, she’s determined to find the truth and with her killing Wesley has slowly brought her into the Punisher’s orbit. Foggy is becoming his own man, while he still has reservations about Matt’s other life, Elden is easily the heart of this show and he’s got some standout moments this season. Stick returns as well in an extended stint from Scott Glenn. I care more about this show’s cast than I do Jessica Jones. Outside of Jessica, Luke, Trish and Kilgrave, I couldn’t be as invested in that show’s supporting cast. It’s not a knock on Jessica Jones at all, I loved it but that’s my only nitpick towards that. The people in Matt’s life are just as interesting as the lead.
The pacing is even better, as well. Season 1 had a slow burn, singular approach towards the Daredevil/Kingpin feud. It felt like a video game in a sense that each episode was building towards the boss fight. This season hit me with everything but the kitchen sink, it juggles multiple arcs and I didn’t feel lost, the progression between Punisher’s story, Elektra’s story and the main characters’ stories was so, so fluid and it doesn’t feel rushed, at all!
Daredevil also has some of the best damn fight choreography anywhere. The action is more intense and bloodier than ever. There are several Daredevil/Punisher fights sprinkled throughout the season and the contrast of styles is on full display. Punisher is like a sledgehammer whereas Daredevil is like a scalpel. There’s even a companion piece to the now iconic hallway scene from last season, but it’s more technical but no less exhausting.
The second season of a show is like the tricky second album. Sometimes it succeeds and sometimes it fails to live up to the debut effort. Somehow, Daredevil’s second season is unquestionably the former. It is, and I don’t use this word often, an epic tour de force and it makes the wait for season three (knock on wood) that much harder!
This was a season for the ages! Thank you to everyone involved!