Matt Murdock doubles down on his Batman fandom, and The Punisher punishes
What’s a superhero movie franchise or television to do after burning through an origin story? Well, there are a few options, and both undo part of the work from the first installment. A story can either create circumstances such that our hero must give up his or her mantle for the sake of loved ones or larger, unforeseen ramifications (e.g. The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 2) or they’ve met a foe, and this foe is very worthy (e.g. The Dark Knight Rises).
In the case of Daredevil season 2, the story thus far is combining the two tropes. Matt is seeing some fallout from his theatrics, as copycats — called “Devil worshippers” — arrive in Hell’s Kitchen, partially cribbing the opening from The Dark Knight and those guys in hockey padssss. Should Daredevil be held responsible for these lunatics? Maybe he should when they’re shooting up hospitals. Frank Castle is the worst of the worst, and he’s so bad, in fact, that he’s bringing about circumstances for the second of those two tropes.
The shot Matt took from The Punisher at the end of the first episode hit him in the head, and when Foggy finds him passed out on the roof, he’s in bad shape. His mask (with this teeny-tiny little eyes) absorbed most of the blast, cracking it in the process. And I don’t know if you guys picked up on this, but that’s symbolism. SYMBOLISM. Though Matt seems all right after a nap, his hearing drops out for a bit in a sequence with some genuinely terrifying film making. Silent screams are always freaky. So Frank Castle is now the Bane to Daredevil’s Batman, making the link between Marvel’s Netflix series and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films even stronger.
When Hell’s Kitchen is ashes, you have my permission to die.
The second episode also gave us a less mysterious taste of The Punisher doing some Punishing, during a trip to his friendly neighborhood pawn shop. What New Yorker can’t relate to the experience of running a simple errand to buy a police frequency decryptor only to be offered sex with a child? Literally no one, but that’s what happens to Castle, and he makes the proprietor of the pawn shop pay dearly for it. The show is quick to give us an example of The Punisher’s work that is easy to sympathize with, but maybe it was a little too easy? A pervert pawn shop owner is so obviously evil that it makes Castle less of a complicated character.
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And thus a moral code begins to emerge. Melvin points out that Daredevil’s head wound was only a warning shot, but obviously, there were other ways to handle the pawn shop guy. This is likely going to be the heart of the philosophical debate between our two heroes this season, and based on the cliffhanger ending, which has Matt’s unconscious body disappearing with Castle, I have a feeling that the conversation is about to begin pretty soon.
While we wait for the philosophizing, it’s worth noting that the physical clashes between Daredevil and Punisher thus far have been absolutely electric and totally worthy of the hype leading into this second season. Maybe this is the version of Frank Castle we’ve been waiting for.