The MCU Ranked: ‘Daredevil’ (Season 2)
Showrunners: Doug Petrie, Marco Ramirez and Drew Goddard (as consultant)
Heroes: Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Elektra Natchios (Élodie Yung), Frank Castle/The Punisher (Jon Bernthal)
Villains/Support Cast: Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), ‘Foggy’ Nelson (Elden Henson), Blake Tower (Stephen Rider), Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio), Nobu Yoshioka (Peter Shinkoda), Stick (Scott Glenn), Col. Ray Schoonover/The Blacksmith (Clancy Brown)
Cameos: Carrie-Anne Moss returns as Jeri Hogarth to offer Foggy a job at the end of the series, tying things to Jessica Jones. Wai Ching Ho always reappears as Lady Gao, who plays an increasingly large role in the build up to The Defenders. Recurring comic relief villain Turk Barrett, played by Rob Morgan. Daredevil’s confidant Father Lantom has a small role, again played by Peter McRobbie.
Plot: Daredevil is on the hunt for a vigilante killer, dubbed The Punisher, who has been systemically wiping out organised crime families across Hell’s Kitchen. Amidst the turmoil caused by this new figure Daredevil is visited by old flame Elektra and a plot involving ninja clan The Hand.
Review: Since we already gushed praise on Daredevil in the previous season’s entry we won’t go into a great amount of detail about what makes this series work. Daredevil was the flagship title for the newly launched Netflix branch of the MCU, a tangentially connected group of characters who exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but focuses on the street level vigilantes and criminal organisations. Thus far we’ve seen blind lawyer Matt Murdock take up the mantle of super-powered ninja Daredevil, who then challenged Kingpin of Crime Wilson Fisk. Then we got super-strong private investigator Jessica Jones battling against mind-controlling Kilgrave.
By this point a plan has been laid out for us. The second season of Daredevil would introduce popular characters The Punisher, whose popularity lead to the production of his own spin-off, and Elektra. The latter is more important to the grand plan, as her storyline heavily focused on The Hand and Black Sky. This season would follow up with Luke Cage and then Iron Fist, which would further the plot involving The Hand. Everything would come to a head with The Defenders, a cross-over mini-series where the four leads would battle The Hand. The immediate effect of this is the groundwork for a longer story being laid in this season of Daredevil.
Continuing the immensely high standard set by the first season we have a well realised setting, perfect casting choices in all roles, brutal and shocking violence, complex themes and remarkably high production values. No-one is a slouch on this production, least of all the new additions to the main cast. Élodie Yung is an excellent choice for Elektra, an essential character to the Daredevil mythos, and her fluid, vicious fighting style compliments Daredevil’s more measured approach perfectly. The real star, however, is Jon Bernthal who seems born to play Frank Castle and puts all three previous efforts to shame.
So we have a grim story of complex morality as The Punisher’s approach to crime fighting clashes with Daredevil’s ethical stand, not to mention the public at large when Castle goes on trail. We also have a tale of mystical ninjas, star-crossed lovers and ancient prophecy and you might see the problem here. We have two very distinct plots which were marketed very differently and they just don’t mesh. We go from The Punisher shooting up a hospital and courtroom arguments about vigilantism to backflipping magic ninjas within the same episode. Attempts to tie the two plots together feel awkward and forced, especially as one is intended to be resolved by season end and the other continuing into the future.
There’s also a distinct lack of major antagonist. Nobu turns up again, but we’ve seen him already and know nothing of his motivation. Kingpin is pulling some strings from behind bars, but is an extended cameo. Punisher often feels like he’s in a different show and he rarely crosses paths with Daredevil in the later episodes.
We get almost everything that was great about the first season, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. The Punisher story with Karen is great, as is the rooftop exchange between him and Daredevil. The Elektra backstory and battle with The Hand is cool. Put them together and it feels kinda awkward. Maybe it would’ve been better to do The Punisher plot entirely for half a season and then transition wholly into Elektra. Maybe.
Most Notable Easter Egg: At the end of the season Castle cracks open a photo frame to reveal a disc inside labelled with the name ‘Micro’, a clear hint that The Punisher is getting his own story. Micro is a key support character for The Punisher, and given how well they portrayed the character here this was very exciting.
Coolest Moment: I know I’m banging on about him, but when we first see The Punisher stalking through the hospital…chills.
THE MCU MASTER LIST
Whilst a competitive entry, it’s not able to compete with the original seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones. The Punisher certainly helps though.
Click those titles to see the original entries!
1. THE AVENGERS
8. IRON MAN
10. DAREDEVIL (SEASON 2)
16. IRON MAN 3
20. IRON MAN 2