Ok so I know it’s been a while, I’ve kind of fallen off writing these. I sort of was thinking for a while about trying to put some effort into doing something more professional with these, but then I never got around to it, so I kind of just thought fuck the whole thing. I think the conclusion that I’ve reached is that I’m just going to write one every once in a while, when I actually have a lot to say about something. And let me tell you I definitely have a lot of shit to say about this new season of Disney’s Marvel’s Netflix’s Daredevil. If you read my review of Season 1 you already know that I absolutely fucking loved it. I think it’s an absolutely outstanding piece of television and a perfect adaptation of one of the coolest comicbook characters of all time. Upon rewatching it a couple of times, I would say that it’s not perfect. The plot sort of starts to drag a little around the last few episodes. Not that there’s anything specific I would cut out, it just seems like in general things could have wrapped up a little quicker. I think it could have been tighter as maybe 10 episodes instead of 13. I actually think that’s true for all of these Marvel Netflix seasons, I kind of felt that way about Jessica Jones as well. I also think the Kingpin, though incredibly interesting, is maybe not the coolest version of that character we’ve seen. All in all though, great stuff, I didn’t have a bad thing to say about it at the time. And now that Season 2 is out, I’ve heard a lot of people giving it that same praise as Season 1. But for me there were just a few more things about it that kind of bugged me, and now I’m gonna rant them at the internet. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Ok right off the bat let me say there’s a lot to like in this season still. It’s still well made, well shot, well acted, there’s amazing fight choreography, all the characters are done unbelievable justice, and it’s so, so cool to see a violent r-rated adaptation of these properties. I almost feel like a huge asshole for complaining at all, the fact that this even exists blows my mind. I mean, I grew up on the Ben Affleck version (Who remembers Colin Ferrel as Bullseye? Anyone? Anyone?). But it’s no Daredevil Season 1. And I’ve just talked to too many people who don’t seem to notice any difference.
First off, I didn’t find the action quite as captivating, and at first I wasn’t sure why. It’s all the same close range, gritty, painful looking combat that I loved in the first season. And the violence was better than ever. But I think maybe that’s why I cared less. They went a little overboard with it I think. One of the reasons the violence in the first season was so shocking was because it was used pretty sparingly. For the most part it would be just a regular comicbook thing with guys punching, but then every now and then someone would get fishhooked in the guts with a big sharp ninja weapon and it would really make you wince. This season it feels like they’re trying a little too hard to get that same reaction. Like in the last or second last episode, when the Hand has Stick tied down, and they’re doing the whole bamboo fingernail torture in graphic detail, and I’m just like, ya know, I don’t know if we need to see that in a Daredevil show. Don’t get me wrong, I love graphic over the top violence in almost every other context, but I just felt like the level that was set in season 1 was perfect. It didn’t need to be any more violent than it was. Season 1 it felt like the violence was necessary to tell the story, and here there are a few moments where it feels like the story was more necessary to tell the violence. And the fight scenes got more over the top too. Back in season 1, there were so many more memorable moments. Like remember when he fights that assassin in the alley, and the dude impales his own face on the sharp fence thing so that the Kingpin won’t find him? Or when Matt’s in the police station and he hears the crooked cops shoot his witness but he can’t do anything about it? Or what about that awesome fight with the ninja dude Nobu, where he ends up getting lit on fire at the end? Or the hallway fight in episode 2 that’s all one long shot? I can’t think of any moments like that from this new season. Almost every fight scene is just a bunch of ninjas show up and they all punch until Daredevil’s the last one standing. And it starts to happen so often towards the end that all the scenes just sort of blend together. And so even though the actual fights and choreography are as good if not better than last season, none of it ends up nearly as memorable.
Secondly, the whole season feels much less focused than the first one. The first season, it’s all about Kingpin, and everything that happens revolves around that one central plot. In this season there’s more going on, and I don’t feel they handle the juggling of multiple plot lines that well. I mean, ok, the first few episodes are all about Daredevil vs. Punisher. And truth be told, that’s the best stuff in the whole season. That scene where Punisher chains DD up on the roof with the gun was so perfect, and ripped straight off the comicbook page. It’s so great to see these two character actually just sit down and spend 20 minutes discussing their opposing moral viewpoints re: killing vs. not killing. Hey, DC, you know why you’re not making Marvel money? Because this is how they handled the question of “should Batman kill people?” whereas you guys were just like “fuck it, Batman kills people.” No one will respect your characters if you don’t. You can make a good Superman movie, just stop shying away from the character. Marvel committed to Iron Man and Captain America and look how that turned out. But I digress. After Daredevil puts Punisher away, that’s it. The story completely shifts. Suddenly Stick and Elektra show up and the whole focus completely changes. There’s no hint of them at all during the Punisher stuff. You can literally draw a line down the middle of the season, Daredevil/Punisher half and Elektra/Hand/Ninja half. And yeah, Punisher’s still in it, but he doesn’t have another confrontation with Daredevil, and his story arc never intersects with the main ninja plot in any significant way. He’s mainly just there to give Foggy and Karen something to do.
Ugh, yeah can we talk about Foggy and Karen for a sec? Ok cause I actually really liked both of them in season 1. Foggy was the perfect goofy best friend character and Karen Page was likeable as hell and the perfect vessel for all the Kingpin investigation stuff with Ben Urich. But now that Foggy knows Matt is Daredevil all he does is bitch and moan, and he becomes really annoying. And then there’s the whole Punisher trial, and it’s like a real chance to see sort of how it effects Foggy, what it’s like for him to defend this murderer, and actually develop the character a little if you’re gonna give him so much goddamn screentime, but instead his entire arc, for 13 episodes is just “I’m pissed at Matt Murdock because he’s too busy being superhero to be my friend, whaaaaa”. And then Karen Page is doing the exact same thing as last season, except this time teaming up with the boss dude at the newspaper because they killed Ben Urich. And then she just gets a reporter job even though she has no writing experience whatsoever. It just seems like they’re trying to give them shit to do, and it got to the point where every time they cut back to either of them I would tune out and look at my phone.
But all that aside there’s still one thing we haven’t talked really talked about yet; the Punisher. Now look, there are some truly great Punisher moments in this show. Like I said, the episode with him and Daredevil on the rooftop is amazing. And there’s a part where they fight side by side, classic Marvel Team-Up style, and the Punisher’s about to kill a guy, and then Daredevil stops him and is like “we do this my way”. SOO COOL!! Having said that, I was a little disappointed. Personally, when it comes to the Punisher, I’m of the school of thought that you can’t ever really make him a relatable protagonist. The Punisher is, at his core, just a force of nature. He is made to kill and that’s all he does. He just sweeps through a place and cleans it the fuck out. And you know, it’s maybe sort of interesting to get in his head a little bit, see what kind of fucked up shit he thinks about while he murders or whatever, maybe get a sense of his motivations. But you can’t really have him develop at all. You can’t have him grow or change like other traditional protagonists. He just kills. That’s all he does. And if you want to see a really bad attempt at making the Punisher a normal relatable protagonist, watch the Thomas Jane movie from the 2000s. Actually, watch it just for Travolta as the bad guy, he’s hilarious. Anyway, so that’s really what I was looking for from this Punisher; I wanted Daredevil to be doing his thing, fighting ninjas, protecting the kitchen, whatever, and then suddenly Punisher rolls in and it just becomes a bloodbath of mob guys, and it’s like this unpredictable third party who just shows up and fucks everything up, and we see how all the characters, good and bad, now have to deal with him. That would have been really awesome. Instead he’s handled more like a straight up Daredevil villain, and other than when he murders that one meeting of mob guys in like the first episode, we never really get a sense of him being on this huge killing spree. It’s a much more sort of reserved Punisher, it feels very much like his “Year One”.
And you know, that maybe could have been interesting, but then they couldn’t even do that without making it super convoluted and confusing. Like all the stuff with his origin. The Punisher’s origin should not be a super complex one; guy gets back from Nam (or Iraq in this case), his family gets caught in mafia crossfire and are murdered, he swears revenge on all criminals. End of story. Now it’s like there were these undercover cops and this crooked army general and the whole thing may or may not have been a set up specifically to kill Frank Castle and his family? Like we don’t even know, that’s the thing. They spend half the season spinning their wheels in this bullshit only to never give us any clear answers and just go “uh, cliffhanger ending, wait till next season or whenever, don’t worry, it will all make sense at some point.” And the biggest insult of all; at the very end of the season, the Punisher’s just loaded up on a whole shit ton of guns, he’s spray painted a skull on his shirt, and he’s got a goddamn MINIGUN. He is finally the full comicbook Punisher, armed to the fucking teeth, and you know whoever he’s going after is in for a world of hurt. And then he doesn’t do anything. We never see him again. There’s even a scene where Daredevil and Elektra are fighting an impossible number of ninjas, on a rooftop, and it would be the perfect moment for Punisher to show up in the final hour and blow them all away. And he just fucking doesn’t. Elektra dies and Daredevil’s sad about it and that’s the end of the season. I mean they even showed the Punisher with that minigun on the posters. Did anyone happen to pass through Yonge and Dundas like a week or two before this came out? They had a giant 20 foot billboard of The Punisher with his minigun, and then he fails to use it a single time in 13 hours of show. That is some grade A bullshit. If you show me a minigun, someone better blow apart a bunch of ninjas with that minigun. It’s like a rule of screenwriting man, Chekov’s minigun. But I guess we’re “setting it up for later”.
And that’s the whole problem I have with this season, it just feels like its dragging its heels. I mean they do the exact same thing with the Hand and Elektra and all this vague resurrection stuff. They set up all this stuff and then never actually explain any of it. And that would be fine if it was only a small part of the story, but the entire goddamn plot of the show, at least in the last half of the season centres entirely on the Hand coming after Elektra because she’s some sort of vague mystical doomsday mcguffin. And we never find out what or how or by who or fucking anything. I guess we’ll have to wait for Daredevil Season 3, or Iron Fist, which ties in with Madam Goa and the mystical city of K’un L’un which they hinted at last season, or until the Defenders, when Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones all come together like the Avengers, or maybe before any of that we need to wait for Doctor Strange to come out and burst the bubble for using magic in the Marvel universe. Woah, when did this cinematic universe become almost as confusing as the comicbook one? Anyway, it’s like in Terminator: Genisys, when they’re like “hey, who sent old Arnold back in time?” and he’s like “Idk, it’s classified” and then they just hope you forget about it by the end of the movie. Or like in the new Star Wars, how we keep being told that who Rey’s parents are is super important but we never actually find out who they are. It’s one thing to withhold certain bits of information for future instalments in your franchise, but when so much of the basic setup isn’t given to us it kind of just starts to feel lazy, like they haven’t written it yet. You ask me, I bet they don’t even know who Rey’s fucking parents are yet, they’re just gonna wait and see which internet fan theory works best. I think that’s becoming a problem with a lot of this shared universe movies, where they have trouble sewing enough seeds for future movies while still having each movie be satisfying in it’s own right. And for me that’s exactly where Daredevil season 2 stumbles. It’s the Iron Man 2 of these Marvel Netflix shows, just feels like a big trailer for the Defenders. Which makes sense because Daredevil Season 1 was like the Iron Man of them. Woah, and then Jessica Jones is just like The Incredible Hulk, because I really loved it but nobody else has seen it or knows that it’s set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Overall Rating: I really want to see this Daredevil team up with the new Spider-Man but one is part owned by Sony and the other is part owned by Netflix so it probably won’t happen anytime soon/10