After almost a year away from the Kitchen, Netflix’s Daredevil has returned, and Matthew Murdock is cooking up some justice. When the second season of Marvel’s premiere streaming show kicks off, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen is putting bad guys away like he’s Batman and this is Gotham…
…I mean, exactly like he’s Batman and this is Gotham.
The first episode of season 2 feels more like an extension of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight-verse than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that’s not necessarily a knock against the show. Any masked vigilante in 2016 without much regard for how many bones he breaks — as long as he’s not killing anybody, of course — is going to have streaks of the Caped Crusader. There’s the raspy voice. The use of shadows. The ninja-like efficiency. I’m as happy as any geek out there to have a decent Batman show on TV (even if he’s not necessarily Batman), but how Daredevil is going to distinguish himself, especially a week before the Dark Knight’s return to the big screen, remains to be seen.
My inkling is that the distinction will arise out of Matt Murdock’s continuing struggles with morality, guilt, and how the two intermingle in the face of a formidable new foe. That’s right! Frank Castle is not only in the building, but he’s outside the building, killing a whole bunch of Irish mobsters and looking to fill the Vincent D’Onofrio-sized hole in Hell’s Kitchen’s criminal subculture. Since we’ve got 13(!) more hours of Daredevil this season, it’s no wonder why the Punisher stays hidden for most of the episode, but what we do see is both frightening and fascinating.
The first we actually see The Punisher, he’s storming the hospital to find Matt and Foggy’s new client, Grotto, the lone survivor of Castle’s raid on the Irish mob. After the Punisher disarms a security guard in typically cool action movie fashion, the visual language changes from that of a Commando-style hero, to that of a mass shooter, and I honestly don’t think I’m reading too much in this. Even if Castle isn’t interested in anyone but the gangster, opening fire in a public building can only be read one way in 2016, sadly.
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So will Daredevil engage with the character of The Punisher and the kind of vigilantism that Matt Murdock is using in terms that have meaning in today’s world? That’s definitely a hope to hang onto as the season progresses. This could be an opportunity for the series, which didn’t have the strong allegorical hook that ran through the core of Jessica Jones in the first season. The use of violence, both for noble and ignoble gains, is fertile grounds to explore on a show that uses gore and highly choreographed beatdowns as its highpoints.