Anticipation can be a dangerous thing; it can lead a fanbase to build up the hype to the point that the final product can never live up to it. Fans of superhero movies and TV shows have been fortunate recently, with the likes of Deadpool, Arrow, The Flash and from what early reports are suggesting even Batman v Superman living up to the buzz. Daredevil was Marvel and Netflix testing the water. Their first series together did great, even better than most expected. Jessica Jones followed and knocked it out of the part as well. But can the excitement surrounding season two of Daredevil – now that the bar has been set so high – possibly be the thing to trip it up? How do you keep the momentum going?
Well, just like this, it seems.
Warning: This review features some very minor spoilers for the first half of Daredevil season two. If you want to remain completely in the dark, then don’t read on.
Damn, this season hits the ground running, doesn’t it? Wasting no time, Matt Murdock has increased his skills as the masked vigilante of Hell’s Kitchen, and his fame is growing with it.
The organised crime families are either in the shadows after the fall of Fisk, or on the ropes thanks to a new “militia” in town, who are gunning down biker gangs and the Irish mob left and right.
Anyone with any comic book knowhow (or any of you who saw literally any piece of advertising for this series) knows that the word militia is a stretch, as the MCU gets its first taste of Frank Castle, The Punisher, played by The Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal.
His arc throughout will keep you guessing, with this being the toughest, yet most heartfelt that the character has ever been portrayed on the screen. Pulling a lot from Garth Ennis’ run on Punisher MAX, his appearances are hard-hitting, back of your shoe ugly, but give the show its strongest new addition; a Punisher spinoff on Netflix has to be on the cards, right?
Our other new kid on the block is Elektra, an old flame from Matt’s past who is back to raise more than a little hell. Played by Elodie Yung, there are perhaps times that her sidetracking of the story and the flashbacks to their past together bog things down a little, but her inclusion brings further Daredevil must-haves into play for the diehard fans watching.
With the return of almost the entire cast from season one, including more fleshed out roles for nurse Claire (and a nod here and there to Luke Cage), Foggy and Karen (who carries the non superhero side of the series almost entirely by herself) the heart and soul of this show rests on it being an ensemble experience; Daredevil the show is reliant on more than Daredevil the hero, which is a very good thing indeed.
Not that he doesn’t shine. Matt’s first interaction with Frank in episode three makes you realise how much of a threat to his way of justice Castle really is, with the antihero preaching to the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen “you’re one bad day away from being me.” Chilling, edge of your seat stuff, considering Daredevil spends most of that episode chained to a chimney. Charlie Cox was the perfect pick to put on the mask, I said it last season and he rings true again this time round.
One thing was made very clear in season one, and was then reinforced by Jessica Jones: this is not the family-friendly comic book violence you see in Marvel’s big screen outings. The fights hit hard, fast and messy. Knowing that they had to step it up a gear this season, there are a number of scenes that outshine season one, including a Daredevil fight down a flight of stairs, a bloody Punisher fight in a hallway and a torture scene in episode four that will have you curling your toes in horror.
With all these plates spinning – and so much more I don’t want to spoil for you – between introducing The Punisher, establishing Elektra’s past, setting up the Irish mob and the threat of the Yakuza, never mind giving all the returning characters enough to do and it’s a small miracle that this season is executed as well as this.
Despite a few missed opportunities (still no Bullseye!) and a fumbling final episode, Daredevil is still the leader of the pack for Marvel’s small screen division, leaving us itching for Luke Cage’s arrival later this year.