I’m gonna keep this brief (as brief as 30 minutes of writing can be) because I want to get back to Netflix’s Daredevil season two. It’s been a sort of average season so far, but episode three contained both the return of Rosario Dawson (one of the show’s MVPs) and a lovely tribute to a particular Oscar winning film from last year that had me gripping my blanket/ersatz shawl in an adorably giddy glee. I’m not gonna qualify those as spoilers, surely The Internet is smart enough to assume the above two things would happen? They were smart enough to come up with the name Boaty McBoatface, after all.
Daredevil was never a favourite super hero of mine growing up. To be honest, I tended to veer towards anything X-Men or Venom aligned. The Marvel universe being what it was, endless team ups and altercations meant the cast of characters I grew to enjoy seeing in its pages multiplied as the years went on. Daredevil was never one of them. Most of The Avengers felt boring to me as a kid, barring perhaps Iron Man. All credit to the 90s Saturday morning cartoon and its immaculately animated transformation sequences. Captain America was way too righteous, Thor seemed uninspiring and his costume was dumb. Perhaps I just hated characters with wings on their head. The Flying Nun inhabited a strange grey area. Daredevil was a character I never knew too much about. He showed up in a Spider Man storyline every once in a while and felt like he was born from similar putty as the webcrawler, but with fewer wisecracks. The Affleck film did the franchise no favours. Hell, even Colin Farrell failed to sufficiently lighten up the film. Why would I be pulled in after that?
Netflix’s Daredevil hit the right notes, that’s how. The choreography was exciting and stunningly executed. The flashy fanfare of the large scale Marvel films was scaled back to a grittier crime story with a captivating and loveable villain. The series itself wasn’t perfect. Some of the plots were predictable and silly. The dialogue skewed a tad hammy and “comic booky” at times but it did what it wanted well enough to be engaging. Characters outside Matt Murdock actually had a point. They accomplished things and helped the show progress outside of the realm of vigilante justice. It was great to see a hero with a certain human fragility. Episode after episode he got the ever-loving shit beaten out of him. Rarely ever did he emerge from a fight with a casual scratch or two. He took the beatings and progressed as the series continued. It felt rewarding, earned.
Season two adds The Punisher to the mix and from what I’ve seen they cast the exact right guy. Jon Bernthal strides straight into the show and doesn’t pull his punches. He’s unwavering in his conviction and plays the part note for note. I’m a huge fan of Punisher War Zone (ignore the Rotten Tomatoes ratings, it’s a gory, silly, masterpiece of action comedy). The film is nuts with insane action and impeccable comic timing. It casts The Punisher as a complete psychopath and its madness is all too enthralling. I stand by that film and its splendid skewering of parkour culture. War Zone is a completely different energy to Daredevil, however, and Ray Stevenson’s Punisher just wouldn’t fly. From what I’ve seen so far, Bernthal is killing it and I’m happy to announce that 30 minutes is up, so I can get back to the show.