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The Top 5 Best & Worst Things About Daredevil Season 2

Daredevil Season 2 released a few weeks back and unless you are a stickler for traditional weekly viewing, chances are that you have finished watching. You may also be a blank zombie slate and need to know what was good and what was bad about this season. Don’t worry, I can help. First things first you can listen to the ANTiFanboys rave talk about what we thought of Daredevil season two right here. You can also check out the Top 5 Best and Worst Things about Daredevil Season 1 right here. 

Daredevil changed the game for a lot of people involved in the comic book TV world, easily solidifying itself as one of the best treatments of a comic character on film or television. However with as much as the show gets right, it’s not perfect. Here are my top five best and worst things about Daredevil season two

Spoilers obviously.

Best

1. The Action

This shouldn’t come as any terrible sort of surprise but the action in season 2 was, once again, spectacular. We had heard comments from the creators about how they were going to “out do” the hallway fight from the previous scene and immediately I got worried. I didn’t want them to disappoint me or really just have an insane amount of focus from the show reallocated to making awesome fight scenes because the first one was so popular. These fears proved to be unfounded because by the end of episode 3, Matt kicked the ever living shit out of an entire crime syndicate with a chain whip and an empty pistol taped to his hand. ALL WHILE GOING DOWN A STAIRWELL!

It.
Was.
Glorious.

Obviously you’ve seen it, we’ve all seen it but much like how season one’s “Hallway” scene echoed Oldboy, season 2 had action sequences that would feel right at home in The Raid. Not only were we gifted with the stairwell fight but we got to see Frank Castle have is own iteration of the hallway scene, except this time it had, y’know. Dick shivving.

 

Last Year I wrote this when discussing the somewhat extreme violence in Daredevil season one:

I mentioned earlier that the first four episodes are chalk full of shocking stuff and considering how the hyper violence peters out as the season continues it feels like just that. Shock value. So while maybe sacrificing some unevenness for the sake of tone is forgivable, you’d be hard pressed to say that the level of violence in specific Marvel product is acceptable. Yes Daredevil is a pretty harsh guy, but I don’t think I’d ever saw him stab a dude’s eye nerve with a knife in the comics. When Matt goes that dark, it’s generally reserved for nutjobs like Bullseye or insanely personal battles with the Kingpin. The violence we see here is more appropriate for The Punisher, not the guy who believes he is Frank Castle’s moral superior in every way.
Upside is that this shows that Marvel has the stomach for a Netflix Punisher show… maybe… hopefully…. Please?

😉

2. Punisher

One Batch. Two Batch.

One Batch. Two Batch.

When I was a few episodes deep I sent this tweet:


Frank Castle, for all of his attractive character traits in the world of comic books, is a surprisingly tough character to crack. His origin, mourning father who lost his wife and children to crime isn’t exactly the most unique of stories in film or television. From Mad Max to even his own failed films the story just doesn’t land as hard as it should because we, as consumers of the medium, have seen the same thing countless times over. The ’89 film didn’t want Dolph Lundgren to don the iconic skull because of fear by association, the 04’ film was so generic it was just another action movie, Warzone over corrected and it became an unintentional hilarious gore fest. Throughout all the movies, Frank just grimaced his way through and murdered without much in the way of emotion. Hell, the guy who is universally accepted as the best Punisher writer of all time, Garth Ennis even plays the character in a similar manner. Frank is not prone to odd outbursts of emotion and generally dispatches enemies with a cold hard precision.

He Punished Him All Right

He Punished Him All Right

So why does Jon Bernthal’s take on Frank Castle work so well? We can all easily point to the TV format as a big reason why the character hits, you have 13 hours of show to work with instead of 2 but that’s not the only reason. This Frank is emotional, he is prone to some outbursts, he will get in your face and scream that you are wrong and his way is better. In one of the best scenes I’ve seen this year was when Matt and Frank argue both on the rooftop and when Frank opens up in the graveyard. In the first scene, Matt says what we are all thinking “Who did you lose? Was it somebody you loved? Well boo hoo.” Then over the course of that episode and the next we are completely and totally invested and understanding of where Frank is coming from. We are terrified that Frank’s journey is going to come to an end in that graveyard, we want more time with this guy, the guy who puts bad guys of meat hooks when they are still alive.
We talked so much about the character of Frank Castle, we didn’t even get into the complete carnage he causes on human bodies. We see him at one point give dating advice to Karen Page and then five minutes later we see the transformation from surprisingly perceptive human being to this avatar of destruction that just won’t die because he’s too damn good at killing people. Between shotguns to the face and almost sawing dude’s heads off with butter knives, this version of the Punisher is just as good as you’d hope.
I swear I could do a top 5 on Frank alone. One batch. Two Batch indeed.

3. That Kingpin Scene

The greatest rivalry in comic book film or TV

The Greatest Rivalry In Comic Book Film Or TV

YO.
Kingpin’s appearance in general was more than enough to land him on any “Best” list. We all squealed when we saw Fisk crush that set on the bench and then we were gifted a look at how quickly he was able to gain power on the inside. But for real y’all it was all about this scene.

Shoulda told him that HIS wife is named Vanessa too!

Shoulda Told Him That HIS Wife Is Named Vanessa Too!

This scene in general gives us perhaps the greatest rivalry in Daredevil’s history. Less Daredevil v Kingpin more Matt Murdock v Wilson Fisk. What’s so great about this scene is how unbelievably raw they make each other. They can barely have conversation without thinly veiled hostility and this is without Fisk even knowing that Matt is Daredevil. But once Matt pulls the “Vanessa” card because he knows it will set Fisk off and Matt is pissed enough to do it. And popped off Kingpin does. In season one we saw the push and pull between the superhero and the super villain but here is where the mutual disdain between Matt the lawyer and Wilson is birthed. This scene sets forwards events in future seasons that will no doubt wreak havoc in Matt’s personal life as Fisk is more than interested in the man that put him away in jail and threatened his wife.

4. Matt Murdock the lawyer

Matt CourtWe don’t see much of it but when we do, boy look out. It’s easy to explain away how Matt became such a great lawyer and it’s lazy to think that seeing as Matt’s a human lie detector than he automatically is the best lawyer. We see a lot of Franklin Nelson struggling through courtroom scenes only for him and us to find out that he’s way better than anyone gives him credit for but when Matt takes the stand or get in that mode in general, it’s fantastic. He outshines everyone with sheer confidence, swagger and knowledge. When he talks to Frank on the rooftop as Daredevil, you can hear Murdock cross examining him, trying to trip him up, weaken Frank’s resolve. During the scene with Fisk, he drops the bomb about how he can wreck his and his wife Vanessa’s lives with minimal effort and he wouldn’t have to break a single law to do it. I mean sure his face gets pancaked into a table as a result but it sure sounded tough. It’s a true shame that the show kept finding excuses to pull him away.

5. The Women Of Daredevil

Nurse Claire, Elektra and Karen Page are all unique and interesting figures in Matt’s life and more fleshed out than most male tertiary characters in the series, certainly more than Foggy whose season two goals are, “Be mad at Matt” and “Be mad at Matt”. I’m loving how Claire is the connective tissue of the Netflix series, she’s like a younger, more attractive Coulson.
Elektra BloodyElektra is a pretty big departure from her comic origins and much like Frank, a new coat of character paint does her mostly good. Elodie Yung certainly looks the part and it’s clear she’s having fun wrecking Matt’s life just by existing within a close proximity. The chemistry she has with Charlie Cox is the best in the show, the biggest regret I have with her time in Daredevil is she didn’t get to interact with anyone not named Matt or Stick.
Karen Page kind of continues to defy expectations as she is becoming one of the most well rounded out characters in the show. She very easily could have fallen into the role of “Daredevil’s girlfriend” and stayed there but as soon as the relationship will they/won’t they nonsense ended so did the relationship, it was actually one of the more realistic takes on how overhyped relationships seem to play out. She then decided to say “f@#k it” and managed to become an expert in law, investigative journalism and writer all at once. She has a role as Frank Castle’s Jiminy Cricket but ends up a full blown journalist by the end of the season all this happened with almost no interaction with Daredevil. Now if only the plot would get on with her “haunted past”.

Worst

1. The Hand AKA A Group Of Human/Maybe Dead Zombie Ninjas Who Are Led By A Maybe Zombified Or Tough To Kill Ninja Boss

I would really really like Daredevil to shit or get off the pot with this Hand stuff. We get a tease of whatever “Black Sky” is from the first season, we meet Nobu, a bad ass Hand ninja who meets his end. In the second season, we have more Black Sky stuff, Nobu is back, and Hand Ninjas that are either (a.) regular people who can die, (b.)trained ninja who can slow their heart beats but still need to breath or (c.) straight up zombie ninjas who have Y incision autopsy scars yet can still run around and fight Daredevil on rooftops. They are also led by Nobu, the guy who “died” in season one but maybe he survived? Or maybe he’s a ninja too? Why does Matt constantly crap on Stick’s explanation? Why do we get no real resolution? What about those zombie hive mind kids?

Human? Zombie? Heartbeats? Breathing? I Give Up

Human? Zombie? Heartbeats? Breathing? I Give Up

See how dumb and confusing that all was? That’s pretty much the interaction every character has with the Hand. Are their ranks? A tier system? In some episodes Stick says that they can mask their heart beats, but yet they still need to breathe? This makes no sense. Claire brings up the whole Y Incision scars on the dead ninjas but how come Stick never mentioned this? Wouldn’t he know? The inconsistencies are infuriating here. I think this may have been a weird mandate thing from on high. Perhaps Marvel wants to wait until Doctor Strange is released before letting anyone else deal with the mystical stuff, either way it really hurts this season overall.

2. Frank Castle Hapless Victim

Frank JailRemember how I said I liked that this Frank had layers and emotions that didn’t start and end with “cold rage?” Well there are some drawbacks, mainly the fact that although Frank Castle plays the “ultimate victim” considering his backstory, that’s where it starts and should end. There are far too many moments where Frank is in a hospital bed playing the beleaguered confused victim of a cover up or a frame job. Frank Castle was put in that role once and what came out of the other end was The Punisher, playing catch up to a bad guy is one thing, getting used as a government cover up and frame job is just insulting to the character. There’s no reason him and Coolio should ever have a similar role in a Daredevil story.DAREDEVIL Coolio

3. A tale of two seasons

Man does this feel like two different seasons smashed into one. The first four episodes throw us right into the Punisher stuff and it’s great and has a fairly satisfying ending for what was going on at the time. Then we pretty much switch gears straight to Ninja/Hand/Elektra plots and we never really stop, sure Frank is still around but it very much gets relegated to B plot status and hard.

Oh I wonder If He's Going To Be The Bad Guy

Oh I wonder If He’s Going To Be The Bad Guy

What’s worse is that the Hand stuff is kept so far away from everything else that it feels like an entirely different show. It pulls Matt from interesting situations like defending Frank Castle on the stand, or Elektra interacting with ANYONE else. I feel like a lot was left of the table here.

4. Karen page’s super-secret backstory

Alright, we’ve gone two seasons and still haven’t gotten anywhere close to finding out what Karen’s “HORRIFIC PAST” is and at this point I’m starting to doubt if it will ever live up to the hype. It kind of felt like an idea floated around for a while in the writers room before “NINJAS” got marker all over half the idea wall. There’s some intrigue with her past sure, but with the currently climate of binge watching, all I see is me blowing through 13 episodes in 4 days and having to wait a whole year before I can MAYBE find out what happened.

The Lack Of A True Villain

A Kingpin He Aint

A Kingpin He Aint

This is probably the season’s biggest sin. When Frank Castle was announced to be in Daredevil, we all knew that while Daredevil and Punisher would certainly be at odds with one another, that there would have to be a core bad guy popping up and it… kind of happened? Nobu, who was basically the mini-boss that Matt had to get through to get to Kingpin, returns from the dead and is pretty much the focal point for the Hand plot. It’s weak, and feels like once the writers blew their wad with the Punisher stuff they realized they were kind of stuck. So when actual important stuff happens, like Elektra dying, it’s done by the obvious transitional bad guy and all of the wind gets sucked right out. When we are reintroduced to Kingpin for those two episodes, it’s such a breath of fresh air but really puts a spotlight on how empty and vanilla the Nobu stuff is.

Bonus Bests

That Luke Cage Trailer

 

Man. Now listen, I love me some Daredevil but if there’s one thing the show, is not, is bright. So imagine just sitting through 13 hours or some truly dark and heartbreaking stuff and as the final episode credits roll there’s a trailer for… Luke Cage? Hmm well OK.

In walks Luke Cage, goons empty bullets into him, it aint no thing. He quips, goes to black, Nas plays, BOOM LUKE BOOM CAGE.Luke Cage Logo
What a kick in the butt that was. Nice and bright colored logo, very fitting and a smart decision by Netflix to follow up with that kind of fun trailer.

The Little Things

They may not mean much by themselves but when put together we get such an authentic experience. In a world where Batman v Superman exists, it’s really nice to see characters do even the smallest things to make us believe.
Here are a few examples
Matt’s Billy clubBillie Club
You can only watch so much Daredevil hoofing it on the roof before you wonder “how long does it take to get around?” So when the show finally introduces the Billie club I had a mini freak out. Seeing Daredevil grapple around the city was crotch moistening.
The New SuitDaredevil Season 2 Mask

It looks like Marvel got the memo because not only does The Punisher shoot that god awful mask right in the head piece, breaking it, but we get suuuuuch an improvement as a head piece. It’s more shaped to Matt’s head, the horns look more pointed and the cheek covers are pulled back and just the whole thing works better presentation wise
Son Of A BoxerDaredevil Yell
There’s a scene near the end of the season where Matt is finally able to take out those pesky Hand ninjas using Stick’s advice. What happens after he’s able to take them down after getting knocked around a bit is to let out a guttural roar. As a combat sports fan I see this all the time, when a fighter wins a match, especially if things weren’t looking so great before, the elation on their face is exactly what Matt shows here. He just lets out a primal yell and it really brings across the fact that Daredevil is not a ninja, he’s a brawler with some very serious skills, but at the end of the day, knocking a dude down when it’s him or you is what Matt thrives on.
Mat Murdock Blind Man
I don’t know if this was as prominent in season one, but there are a ton of scenes where Charlie Cox really makes you believe that he is blind. That may sound stupid but hear me out. There are many times when Matt will be having heated arguments with friends like Foggy or enemies like Fisk where there’s little to no reason why he should be keeping up the fact that he can’t see a door handle, or can’t find his way off the floor. It really shows the practice that Matt has with expectations that he is as blind as they think.

The Pawn Shop

Talk about a character moment. Early into this season we get a glimpse of the seemingly psychopathic Frank Castle buying gear at a pawn shop, the owner is a slimeball but nothing worth “Punishing”. That is, until the guy offers to sell Frank some underage smut tapes. Right then and there we get a glimpse of who this guy is and what he is about. He may kill people, but there’s a method behind those eyes.

 

-D

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Devon

Devon is a Co-Founder of ANTiFanboy and ANTiFanboy.com He writes weekly articles and is the star of the ANTiFanboy Podcast. You can follow him on twitter @DevonKopec