In the wake of Wilson Fisk’s activities in Hells Kitchen, a new player is in town. Fisk is firmly behind bars but the emergence of this blind vigilante, Daredevil, has opened up his city to new threats. It’s general knowledge that heroes create their villains just as much as villains creating their heroes. New heroes are popping up left right and centre. Daredevil has inspired people in his city to stand up. Daredevil is in the same universe as the Avengers yet it keeps to itself entirely. Hell’s Kitchen is a district in New York that has its own set of rules. Much alike Gotham City, people do what’s necessary to survive. Killing is no object. Season 2 takes place in the wake of Wilson Fisk, and after the victory of Jessica Jones (Kirsten Ritter), another crime fighting vigilante in Hell’s Kitchen who took down Kilgrave/Purple Man (David Tennant).
Season 1 created a new type of comic book adaptation. It was the first R-Rated addition to a constantly growing conglomerate of costumed heroes fighting for a better world, even if it is one guy micromanaging the crap out ten blocks of New York City, that being Hell’s Kitchen. It was dark, gritty and very bloody as we saw when Fisk decapitated one of the Russians with a car door. It explored more adult themes like relationships, religion, morality and bloody violence. But it also depicted a story of thirteen episodes which is more like a thirteen hour movie. The Netflix additions to the MCU have shown that Marvel can make something that isn’t sparkly and colourful like the movies in the MCU (made by Disney). We are introduced to darker and more complex villains like Fisk and Purple Man rather than villains restricted to the PG-13 rating like Loki and Malekith.
Daredevil Season 1 attacks themes like human trafficking, politics, corruption, drugs and hard criminal activities. It’s like The Godfather in Hell’s Kitchen. I found Jessica Jones even more hard-hitting than our blind lawyer’s vigilantism. That show dismantled the themes of psychological abuse, rape and sociopathic murder in a thought-provoking and quite realistic manner. After two outlooks on two very different superheroes, we can now go back to where it all began. Fisk is gone and this season’s “bad guys” aren’t really so bad because they’re anti-heroes. Our “bad guys” this season are Frank Castle/The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung). In this season, the terms “bad” and “villain” are all relative. They are subject from our point-of-view. Elektra serves The Hand and I’ll get onto them a bit later.
The Punisher tracks gangsters to their home turf and takes them out with military precision. He wasn’t hurting anyone except known hoodlums who had killed a lot of people and gotten away with their crimes. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really have any issues with him doing that. Things only got awry when Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox) waded in. Throughout the season, he was on his moral high horse and it was great to see them both at logger heads against one another. This wasn’t only a battle of fisticuffs. It’s a battle of ideologies. It’s Bad V Badder because Daredevil’s methods are also questionable, beating gangsters within an inch of their life for information.
Frank Castle’s family were killed by The Mob and he’s out for retribution. He’s doing this in the form of ridding Hell’s Kitchen of gangsters by killing them off with military grade weaponry. The cops and Daredevil don’t like this. They think they belong in jail but at some point, they will get out and continue doing what they’re doing. Justice isn’t what it should be in Hell’s Kitchen, even after the fall of Fisk. Cover ups are still happening and I don’t blame Frank for taking the law into his hands because law enforcement cannot be trusted to uphold what is good, fair and righteous.
Frank Castle is a broken man. He is a lone vigilante, with no back up unlike Daredevil and there’s a scene in episode four which really breaks my heart to see how far he has fallen. His origins and arc are very depressing actually. Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) plays him to perfection from the seemingly cold and cutthroat persona to the relentless attitude he has in achieving his goal, as well as opening up to The Man Without Fear. We see Frank’s humanity shown in its glory, but to the people of Hell’s Kitchen he is a rogue serial killer and a sociopath. He doesn’t do himself in favours as we see in an epic fight scene in the prison.
The best thing about this series are the characters and how they interact with one another. Two of my favourite characters are Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) and Father Lantum (Peter McRobbie). Karen Page being the secretary for the law practice, Nelson & Murdock and Father Lantom is Matt’s priest. Father Lantom is Matt’s conscience and he keeps him on the straight and narrow. Lantom may not approve of Matt’s night-time activities but he understands why Matt does it. Karen is Matt’s love interest this season and typically with any hero, relationships are no fly zone. Karen plays this “rabbit in the headlights” sort of character but really she’s a tough cookie and has some great dialogue throughout the season and she makes a great observation about Hell’s Kitchen’s current situation as well as the superheroes in general.
Karen Page: Maybe we created him. All of us. (refering to The Punisher)
Matt Murdock: There’s no connection?
Karen Page: We never stopped to think that Daredevil’s actions could open the door for men like this.
Many are saying that the writing has degraded in quality but I think it’s increased in quality, especially with characters like Father Lantom who always gets the most meaningful, insightful and thought-provoking lines. Peter McRobbie (House Of Cards, Lincoln) plays this catholic mentor so well.
One of the main and commonly known traits of Matt Murdock is that he is a devout catholic, yet he instills fear into Hell’s Kitchen’s criminals daily with his afterhours activities; lawyer by day but vigilante by night. He sees it as his catholic duty to do what’s necessary to stop people like The Punisher, Wilson Fisk and their ilk from destroying his city. Both these characters have dropped bodies. Fisk did it to keep his power, and Castle did it for revenge and so that they couldn’t hurt anybody else. Daredevil and Punisher have very different methods of fighting crime. “You hit them and they get back up, and I hit them and they stay down.” says Punisher to Daredevil.
Frank believes that Daredevil doesn’t have it in him to finish the job, but in reality Daredevil could, but chooses not to. Punisher represents what years of killing can do to someone. From killing terrorists in Afghanistan to killing gangsters in New York City. He’s traded one warzone for another. He never truly left the war and he can’t adapt to civilian life. This has stripped him of more or less all of his humanity and has left him broken beyond repair. Daredevil beats criminals within inches of their lives; bones broken, fractured ribs and even left one guy in a coma. He does not kill and he sees that as retaining some bits of his humanity. Daredevil is one bad day away from being The Punisher.
The series is filled with some awesome fight scenes, one of my favourites being the one on the rooftop/stairwell with the chain. I really enjoyed the stairwell scene because it’s one continuous take and reminds me of Scorsese’s Goodfellas when he uses one continuous take in the restaurant. Also, the ferocity of the fight matches Goodfellas through the relentless and “no fucks given” ideologies of the writers. The makeup of season two is pretty good as it can be cut down to different story arcs. The first four episodes introduce the ruthless Punisher then after the dusts of Hell settle we are introduced to the renowned Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung) and the famous groups of ninjas known as The Hand led by Stick (Scott Glenn). Yes, the blind old man who trained Matt also trained Elektra. The Hand are Marvel’s League Of Assassins but executed so much better than on CW’s Arrow.
After some time, an old friend arrives to old screens. Season 1 circles back into Season 2 and we are looking at our old pal Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio). I loved that and as we say in the MCU, “it’s all connected” as well as easter eggs from Claire Temple (Rosario Dawnson) referencing Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Just because season one is over, that doesn’t mean we should close that door. Those characters are still around, even it is from inside jail. We also had an easter eggs from Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D when we’re introduced to the Dogs Of Hell biker gang who also appeared in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D as well as another Jessica Jones easter egg with the appearance of D.A Samanth Reyes (Michelle Hurd).
Season 2 gives us a different look on Daredevil as in there is no true villain. It’s more of a Bad V Badder situation. Our perceptions of good and evil are clouded with the introduction of The Punisher. We also saw this with Stick last season when he called Matt a “pussy” when he wouldn’t do what was necessary hence the no killing rule. This season tests Matt’s morality and his ideologies on the preservation of human life itself. It’s a religious test as well. Can he truly call himself a catholic if he spends his nights beating people to pulp? The villains this seasons are those who we nominate as the villains. It truly varies from person to person. One person may think Punisher as a bad guy, some may see Daredevil is the bad guy for stopping The Punisher. Again, we’re given excellent performances by the main and supporting cast as well as well-choreographed fighting scenes and outstanding writing too.
Morality has never looked so blind