Marvel’s first foray into Netflix streaming, last year’s Daredevil season 1 was something different from the other MCU properties. And I don’t just mean in the fact that it was darker (both content wise and lighting wise) than most MCU movies and TV shows, but in that it genuinely seemed to have some thoughts on the nature of superheroes. Aside from Winter Soldier, the MCU tends to be on the shallow side, and just having a show willing to try and be a little deeper was interesting.
Unfortunately, that depth was undercut by some shaky pacing on the overall series and a general lack of overall interest in much beyond world building except at the very beginning and end of the season. Still, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin was such a great and well acted character that he made up for a lot of the season’s flaws. But the lack of Kingpin this season means that he can’t save it, so it’s all up to the rest of the cast and writing team.
The plot kicks off about a year after the end of the last season, with Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) having settled into the comfortable routine of beating the snot out of criminals as Daredevil by night and acting as a crusading lawyer alongside his friends Foggy (Elden Henson) and Karen (Deborah Ann Woll).
But despite having things mostly under control on the surface, all is not well in Hell’s Kitchen. A new vigilante named Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) has arrived on the scene, straight up killing criminals instead of capturing them. Matt of course can’t stand this, but is accidentally put in the position of legally defending him when he discovers a conspiracy surrounding the death of his family. Meanwhile a woman from Matt’s past named Elektra (Elodie Yung) has returned, possibly destabalizing his budding relationship with Karen.
Both Daredevil season 1 and its much stronger follow up, Jessica Jones, shared the same odd problem. Both of them had a very strong central narrative, but not one that could fill a whole season and thus wound up writing themselves in circles for something like 6 or 7 episodes. Season 2 has the exact opposite problem. A lack of a strong central narrative keeps the season bouncing from subplot to subplot, with varying degrees of strength between them.
By far the strongest subplot is the Punisher’s. Bernthal is easily the best on screen realization of the Punisher, a strong physical screen presence with a distinct lack of…well, there’s no other word for it, lack of coolness. He’s not an action hero, striking poses and spouting catch phrases, he is a ruthlessly efficient soldier gunning his way through a series of targets. He manages to exude a simple, yet disturbing form of menace that lets everyone know how in danger they are just by being around him.
His subplot is also the strongest because it’s got the best writing behind it. It has a simple goal, set up in the first handful of episodes and that is pursued logically throughout. It kind of fizzles out towards the last couple episodes, but up until that point, it keeps the season running at a good pace and is also the source of the seasons’ best action beats.
By contrast, Elektra’s storyline, which eventually spins off into a larger storyline involving the Hand, is a mess. Part of it is just that this version Elektra isn’t very interesting. I won’t spoil it, but the slow dripped reveals about her backstory rob her character of much in the way of interest or even agency, not to mention making her unrecognizable from the comics character, aside from her relationship with Matt, and its role in the series’ REALLY overpowering Catholic guilt theme Matt has going. Elodie Yung is doing what she can to keep the storyline working, and she’s pretty good, but there’s only so much one can do when the series starts revolving around destiny and other bulls**t.
These subplots spin off into more subplots and which then spin off into more subplots, and by the last couple episodes, basically every single character is off doing their own thing, which is only barely connected to the things all the other characters are doing and the series begins to creak under its own weight. It never fully collapses, but its definitely awkward to watch, especially in the second to last episode.
Aside from that, it ports over almost everything from the previous season, for good or ill. The costuming is still pretty ugly, although at least Daredevil wears his costume this season. The fight scenes are still good, if getting somewhat repetitive. The direction and editing are still pretty solid, even if the fight sequences are still underlit to the point where it’s genuinely hard to tell what’s going on. The cast is still good, and mostly works well together when they’re not off doing their own thing in their own unconnected subplots.
Regardless, Daredevil season 2 is pretty good. It’s still kind of goofy to see the music and editing taking itself so seriously while we watch a guy doing kick flips fighting Ninjas, but that’s part of the charm. Jessica Jones is still the gold standard of Marvel’s forays into TV and Streaming, but that doesn’t mean Daredevil can’t also be good. So I guess Daredevil season 2 comes with my recommend-
You already binged the entire series didn’t you? Goddammit.
Elessar is a 26 year old Alaskan born cinephile and seriously, Hell’s Kitchen is like 12 square blocks, can we stop pretending it’s so important?
– solid action sequences
– good cast
– the Punisher is awesome
– Elektra’s storyline is pretty terrible
– shakily put together
– desperately needs to stop the constant vague foreshadowing