If you have not seen season 1 you will encounter spoilers! Also, Why haven’t you seen it?!
It’s been just under a year since Netflix blew the minds of most Marvel fans by delivering an adult, highly violent take on their PG-13 universe with Daredevil. Before then the masses had to live with the 2003 Ben
Afliction Affleck big screen flick as their only live action interpretation of the source material. The fact that it is awful (sitting at 42% on Metacritic) was a shock to most (the Director’s cut is much better though). Thankfully Affleck has redeemed himself with his own interpretation of the Batman in Batman VS Superman: Dawn of Justice, so we can almost forgive him. But who would reprise the Daredevil role that had been so poorly treated? Step in Charlie Cox.
London-born Charlie Cox was given the role and wow did he fill it well; so well that he was awarded the Helen Keller Achievement Award by the American Foundation for the Blind! Season One set the benchmark so high I had doubts that season 2 would be able to reach it. (Read what Kerv thought of it here). Cox was brilliant as Daredevil, but so was Vincent D’Onofrio as nemesis Wilson Fisk. I mentioned it a while ago that in my opinion no other Marvel Big Bad has ever been so fully realized, well acted and well portrayed; simply put D’Onofrio is brilliant. So how can you compete with that level of menace? Simple, throw in one of the biggest, baddest, anti-heroes in the form of The Punisher.
We all know Kervyn is the biggest comic-book geek around, while I am not. In fact the only knowledge I had of who this character is came from a few movies, which were OK at best. This time around Jon Bernthal would take up the revenge-mad marine, and he is nothing short of BRILLIANT. In fact he is my favourite character. Frank Castle’s presence in this season is integral to the plot for a variety of reasons I won’t spoil, but he is also so much more; acting as a mirror to the controlled actions of Daredevil and a very real reminder of what he could become should he stray too close to the dark side. He is brute force incarnate. Precision strikes to the neck? Not on your life. Back flip off the side of a building into a swan-like dive? Get in the sea. Let’s try a few hundred rounds of ammo, a handful of grenades and some of the most grisly knife fights you are likely to see in a 16-rated series, let alone an R rated movie. If you thought that scene in season 1 with Daredevil and a knife was bad, you’re a sissy.
I don’t want to spoil anything as the adrenaline that will flood your system when you witness the pure rage that is the Punisher is one of the things that makes this season so memorable. Bernthal has the look of a man possessed when he goes into rage mode and at times he left me speechless and shocked at his intensity. However, he is also able to deliver moments of pure tenderness as he tries to deal with the pain the death of his family has brought him. One poignant moment almost had me in tears (and I am ginger and lack a soul!).
The other big introduction to Hell’s Kitchen in season 2 is of course the Greek Assassin Elektra Natchios. Thankfully we are not getting another Jennifer Garner iteration here but instead one that has so many layers I want to cry onion. Elektra’s love affair with Murdock was devastating to both of them. Her dark manipulation of the younger Murdock, fueled by torn responsibilities between fate and personal choice, create a maelstrom of a character that is a personal and spiritual war zone. Unlike the non-fatal fighter Daredevil, Elektra revels in killing. She takes as much enjoyment out of it as the Punisher shows a lack of caring in his murders. At first you just want to punch Elektra.
She is cocky, self assured and bugs the hell out of a very busy lawyer but when we start to learn why she is in Hell’s Kitchen a whole new story unfolds that carries you right to the final episode. There are also quite a few cut scenes to her past that really flesh out her character, which we don’t see much with the Punisher. I was worried this would turn into an easy and overused mechanic but the fact that these are so personal to her, and only her, made them work nicely and made logical sense. Also, she kicks ass, not sure I made that clear enough. Two other characters I would lastly like to touch on are the poor ‘side kicks’ of Daredevil’s: Karen Page and Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, two characters I felt were weak plot devices to further the main story of season 1.
Well things have changed here. Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) is a lot more headstrong and doesn’t annoy, while Foggy (Elden Henson) takes less sh*t from Murdock, stands alone most of the time, and gives some very good Law and Order speeches. These come across as natural developments from season 1 and ultimately affect the plot and future relationships in irrevocable ways. The romance that develops between Murdock and Page is also something that shouldn’t come as a big surprise and doesn’t feel forced or contrived to further other goals. I have to say the relationships between the three are as important, although not as fun to watch (because punch, kick, whap!), as those between the Punisher, Elektra and Daredevil; some great symmetry found in the writing this time around. But back to the punch, kick, whap!
Remember that fight scene that looked like it had been lifted out of Old Boy in season 1 of Daredevil? The camera tracks our blind punching machine as he lays waste to a whole floor of baddies, and it was truly awesome. Daredevil season 2 really ups its game. As I mentioned before the Punisher is a violent entity. I mean it, really, really violent. He just explodes, has no empathy for what he is doing and also takes no pleasure in it, seeing it as a means to an end – very different to Elektra. Her fight scenes are meticulous, but she enjoys the game, enjoys the kill way too much and the way the camera shows this is almost too personal at times. Then we have Daredevil. His fight scenes are a perfect calculation of what needs to be done, taking advantage of his unique abilities, surroundings and his opponents’ over-confidence. He does alter at times but when he does it’s fueled by context, something the choreographers really nailed this season. However, not all things were great.
Yes it’s that time where I have to mention some of the not-so-perfect parts. The first comes from the Page and Foggy plots. They are important, don’t get me wrong – but far too much time is spent focusing on how Page is going to find out something, or how Foggy is going to do a speech that other far more important elements, like the Hand, suffer. I have left mentioning the Hand to a bare minimum in this piece as I want people to enjoy the revelations, but I think many will agree that certain parts needed more fleshing out and using that time to show how Page is roaming through newspaper records in an episode that is over an hour long leaves a bit of a deflated feeling in the gut. There are also one or two things that are so contrived you’ll roll your eyes but they don’t impact on the overall experience.
Fans of the first season are going to find it very difficult to turn Netflix off and go to bed. My concerns they were cramming in too much were most definitely cast aside with old characters that were given better treatment, new characters that are fully developed and story arcs that are tighter than daredevils pants. The action is intense and a step up from season 1 (no clue how they will better this for season 3) and there are a few surprises that will have you screaming ‘Oh no you didn’t’ at your screen (I literally did that). There are a few niggles, as all shows will suffer, but once you are through them you’ll find them minor annoyances.
Go watch this now!
This article originally appeared on TheMovies.co.za
Last Updated: March 24, 2016