The vigilante action, in fact, begins quickly, with no gradual build-up this time around. The Punisher and Elektra make strong, character-defining debuts that should please fans disappointed by those characters’ previous Hollywood adaptations. Netflix’s 13-hour format allows for deep character development in between the action. And Matt Murdock must decide which half of his life is worth pursuing the most: The lawyer who wants to help the weak, or the devil who works outside of the law.
Here are Comic Riffs’ five takeaways “Daredevil’s” new season:
1. The devil’s new suit is a red-letter upgrade.
With all that “Daredevil’s” first season got right, some fans ultimately weren’t impressed with Murdock’s horned mask in the finale. If that reveal let you down, the new-season makeover might rectify that wrong. Daredevil’s suit takes a pounding when the heavily armed Punisher arrives; Daredevil must then upgrade for his own safety.
The classic new look is rightly a darker red, with red lenses that cover the eyes completely. Nothing on this show is going to look like the all-red duds that Daredevil wears in the comic books (although now, the character’s costume in the comics seems to be inching toward the Netflix look). But once he gets his new mask, fans should take to Murdock’s new attire when he’s a rooftop runner of the night.
2. Love can be pure Hell’s Kitchen.
If you’re hoping that Matt and Karen Page will light a romantic spark this season — well, you’re in luck.
If you read the comics, you know that Matt and Karen (played by Deborah Ann Woll) have a history of being more than friends. And Season 2 begins to go down that road, though cautiously.
Matt and Karen may have strong feelings for each other, but sometimes their secrets get in the way. Karen killed a man in self-defense last season, and she knows that her devoutly Catholic new lawyer-boyfriend will have a tough time with that. But even when Matt disagrees with Karen about the methods of the Punisher (Matt says killing is a major no-no, even when the dying are dangerous criminals), he himself is dealing with his secret identity.
Plus, this season, he’s not running around the rooftops alone. Elektra, a martial-arts expert and Matt’s college ex-girlfriend, is back in town. Karen reminds Matt of the life he could possibly have without Daredevil. Elektra show Matt that the Daredevil side of his life could be the one thing he truly lives for.
Without the mask, Matt, having been hurt by Elektra before, pushes her away any chance they get. But when the masks come on (for both Daredevil and Elektra), there’s a spark. Could Karen’s defense of the Punisher’s methods push Matt away — and push Daredevil closer to Elektra?
3. Even with the deft additions, this is Daredevil’s show.
“Daredevil” producers and actors agree that a season of 13 one-hour episodes allows for much more character development than a standard two-hour superhero movie would allow. This narrative elbow room provides plenty of space for Elektra and the Punisher to come to textured life without fighting for too little screen time.
And what textures they have. Frank Castle/The Punisher (played by Jon Bernthal) is fueled by pain. Elektra (Elodie Yung) seems to love the adrenaline of vigilante night life. You hear the grit and pain in Bernthal’s voice as the Punisher, and know that this take trumps all previous cinematic depictions of the character. And Yung’s Elektra is a necessary palate-cleanser even so long after the cinematic disaster that was the Jennifer Garner film.
But all roads lead to Daredevil, and the series ensures that every angle points back to the Man Without Fear.
4. We see the consequences of being a vigilante.
The Daredevil alter-ego allows Matt to do things the law wouldn’t allow. And this season, Daredevil’s actions markedly bleed into his life as a lawyer.
His best friend is legal partner Foggy, who is the only person who can confront Matt about his double life. Foggy lays into Matt about the double standard of fighting for the law and then fighting outside of it — notably when Matt’s vigilante actions affect one of their cases.
Foggy wants Matt to be a good, smart, caring lawyer who cares about the citizens of Hell’s Kitchen. But when he’s with Elektra, Daredevil is told by her that the mask he wears is a gateway to the person he really is. It’s a double-life struggle that weighs heavily.
5. Now that the Netlflix/Marvel method works, what’s next?
We now have three full seasons of smart Netflix/Marvel shows, including the first season of “Jessica Jones.” Due next is “Luke Cage” (coming this fall), with “Iron First” not far behind. The practice is becoming successful pattern, and darker Marvel stories especially feel like the right fit for Netflix.
But the far-off question still looms: Once all four planned Netflix/Marvel shows connect to form “The Defenders,” will that be the end of this whole grand collaboration? Will we get more seasons of the individual defenders beyond that? Or will we perhaps see titles (a “Punisher” series, maybe)? T
So far, we’ve convinced that these shows should convince Netflix to dig deeper into Marvel’s deep, dark library of characters.