A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Created By: Drew Goddard
Based On: Daredevil by Stan Lee
Starring: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Toby Leonard Moore
Running Time: 13 Episodes (48 – 60 Mins)
Following the immense success of the first Marvel series to launch on Netflix, in turn opening up a gargantuan outlet of opportunities for the powerhouse studio, Daredevil returns for a highly anticipated second season that promised a lot more than it’s comparatively self contained predecessor.
Matthew Murdoch (embodied exceptionally by Charlie Cox) has reached a point where life in comfortable once again. With Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) behind bars and his best friend Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) now aware of his crime fighting alter-ego, Murdoch manages to find a balance between work life, personal life and the life of vigilantism without drastic ramifications.
Of course, where would the fun be without a serious antagonist to challenge the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, right?
Instead of introducing a new supreme villain in Season 2, Daredevil has presented audiences with a handful of various characters ranging from outright meatheads, devilish cults, confused, fleshed out antiheroes and heroines from Murdoch’s past, all of whom bring their own reign of terror to the streets of Manhattan.
Where Season 2 takes the character of Matthew Murdoch is interesting at points, however, like Tom Hardy’s Max Rockatansky in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, he was forced aside and relegated to the periphery of his own film. This is an example of how it didn’t hinder the narrative, but in fact helped it along whilst furthering the enigmatic character of Max. Regrettably, by having Murdoch pushed back and shifting the focus to the likes of Karen Paige (Deborah Ann Woll), Electra (Elodie Yung) and The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) to name a few, the season begins to feel overcrowded and packed full of shoehorned storylines all too quickly.
With the exception of The Punisher (without a doubt one of the best characters to ever appear in a Marvel property), Murdoch is the most interesting character and the character that offers the most to explore. Where the story does shift the spotlight back on to Murdoch, the series really shines. His abilities are jeopardised, his senses are damaged, resulting in some genuine fear being injected into the viewer regarding his wellbeing; which is a quality that is severely lacking in comic book properties nowadays.
Although we all know he’ll live to see another day, there are points where he is savagely beaten, nearly to the point of death; a refreshingly gripping element that is commonplace in the series overall.
Death, brutality and bloodshed are all amped up in time around, and it’s particularly due to the violent, maniacal escapades of the aforementioned Punisher.
The term “perfect casting” doesn’t get thrown around all too often, however we know when someone has been perfectly cast as soon as they step on screen.
Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle is the quintessential embodiment of the complex, tortured and deeply fascinating character. Built up as the central antagonist of the series, The Punisher is a divisive individual who crosses back and forth over the line of good and evil, resulting in a difficult blend of both as he fights for a different type of justice.
Although he and Daredevil are effectively two sides of the same coin, The Punisher stands for everything Daredevil does not, which of course leads to conflicts being brought to the forefront in the form of violence and aggression.
The Punisher’s story ark is gripping, deeply explored and enveloping. We learn of his backstory, his motives and his justifications for murder, all the while trying to understand the inner psychological framework of the unhinged, unstable sharpshooter.
Whilst being tonally consistent for the most part, Season 2 includes some much darker imagery both in its extensive, unrelenting action sequences and the thematic elements thrust into the narrative at large.
As the season progresses and more characters with individual storylines are introduced, the primary plot deviates and takes a darker turn, lending itself to some rather unsettling sequences and revelations.
This, along with the exaggerated and brutal action violence could be the studios cottoning on to the maturer comic book adaptation trend of late.
As previously mentioned, the plot, as it unravels and ushers in an extensive list of supporting characters to explore, does begin to feel crowded and confusing, particularly in the final stages of the series.
With the exception of The Punisher’s catalytic ark for the majority of events, Murdoch’s ex-love interest Electra is thrown into the mix, providing some tension for Murdoch in both of his separate lives.
Although her character is compelling at points, her exclusion would have benefitted the series as she took a lot away from characters who were far more interesting and investible. Without labelling her inclusion as superfluous, if it was to have waited until Season 3, we’d be able to explore her more in depth and form a greater, more rounded understanding of her.
Seemingly faithful to the source material and littered with easter eggs for the geek community to intensively study and pick out, Daredevil remains aesthetically satisfying in multiple areas of the overall craft. The action sequences are choreographed masterfully, while the exploration of the perfectly cast Punisher adds a marvellous edge to an otherwise passably gripping storyline.
Whilst in keeping with the style and atmospherical qualities of the previous season, the follow-up has sadly bitten off more than it could chew, which is unfortunately the case for many of it’s kind nowadays.
Like a steady fire in the fireplace, Season 1 was a comfortable blend of intelligent storytelling and self-containment. With the second load of wood however, there has been too much thrown in at once.
The fire is still burning, it’s just it’s not as strong and ran the risk of being put out all together. We’ll now have to wait until it burns up to the level it was at before, hopefully roaring louder and starker than ever.