Daredevil Season 2 Review (Spoiler Free)
When Daredevil‘s first season dropped last year on Netflix, it quickly became one of Marvel’s smartest, yet most daring moves in the last eight years. Full of bloody violence, language and a much darker tone, the series could have been risky. But with excellent storytelling, better acting and some really incredible fight choreography, Daredevil exceeded expectations and became one of the best Marvel properties going right now in my opinion. Now, here we are a year later. We’ve seen Jessica Jones, an equally successful Netflix series; some say it surpassed Daredevil season one in quality, though I tend to disagree. No matter what your opinion though, the second season of Daredevil has a lot to live up to. Not only must it follow the success of season one, but it also must compete with Jessica Jones and the upcoming Luke Cage and Iron Fist series. On top of all that, it also has to get things in place for an eventual Defenders series. Needless to say, season two could have very easily failed. Thankfully, it did quite the opposite.
A lot of the talk about season one had to do with the violence and darker tone, but now Marvel fans are growing accustomed to that style in these Netflix series. I won’t dwell too long on that, but I will say that I think this season of Daredevil is the darkest thing Marvel has made yet. Even with all of the blood-drenched violence that covers the entire 13 hours, excellent writing and superb performances keep things moving along and don’t allow the story to be joyless. Charlie Cox shines as Matt Murdock, even though we see him struggle more and more with keeping Daredevil and Matt Murdock as separate entities. Cox brings more passion to Murdock this season as those two identities begin to blend more and more. There is also a certain ferocity when he dons the horns that wasn’t present in season one. Seeing Cox step it up on both sides of his character was truly exciting and leaves me feeling more comfortable with Daredevil possibly acting as a leader for the eventual Defenders team.
Of course, there are two major reasons that Cox is forced to elevate his performances and bring that aforementioned ferocity: The Punisher and Elektra. Punisher and Daredevil have a long history together and Marvel has capitalized on that with the marketing. Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle has been front and center, portrayed as an unstoppable force on the hunt for blood. Right off the bat in episode one, that’s exactly what we get. A cold, merciless killer with deadly talents. Castle has a pretty heartbreaking backstory, and the writers handle it well, while updating it to be more time appropriate. I won’t spoil anything here, but just know that it is hard to label Castle a true antagonist, much like his appearances in Daredevil comics. Props to Bernthal for injecting just the right amount of humanity into Castle; you never want to cheer for his actions, but you understand his motives. If the rumored Punisher Netflix series does come about, I think Bernthal has established the character perfectly to carry his own story.
As for Elektra, she is an integral part to any good Daredevil story. Here, Elodie Yung brings the right balance of beauty and deadly grace. She is also responsible for bringing the most passion out of Murdock that we have yet to see in the series. Those who know of the history between Elektra and Murdock will understand where this all comes from. A lot of the fun of her character is watching Elektra pose as a beautiful debutante, however, she also perfectly sells the ninja assassin role as well. It’s a difficult role to pull off well (e.g. Jennifer Garner’s attempt) but Yung does well. As I said, she really serves to bring out a side of Murdock/Daredevil that we have yet to see, while also expanding his backstory and the mythos of the universe. And when I say mythos, I mean it. This season dives hot and heavy into the mystical aspects of Daredevil’s foes, especially The Hand.
For this reason, the main supporting players oftentimes fall a little to the wayside. Karen and Foggy have huge, important roles throughout the entire season, but they begin to become frustrating at a certain point. Foggy’s total resistance to Matt acting as Daredevil becomes tiresome as the state of Hell’s Kitchen continues to degrade. Much of the problem comes down to Matt’s continued stubbornness. He refuses to tell Foggy what is happening behind the scenes, so there is no way that Foggy can understand how important his work as Daredevil is. It’s like a snake biting its own tail.
Karen on the other hand really steps it up this season in some ways, but fails in others. She continues her work to find the truth of what is happening in Hell’s Kitchen, but in turn ends up in trouble. A lot. By the end of the season you kinda just have to laugh when she is captured by yet another bad guy. And the new role she finds herself in by the end of the season seems a little silly to me and likely a product of lazy writing. They hint at a sordid history that comic books fans will be familiar with, but it serves to reason that somebody will take a hint and stop hiring this disaster waiting to happen. I’ll be interested to see how things shake out next season, but to me it seems the writers were looking for a convenient way to allow her to continue investigating. However, her relationship with Matt is another high point of the season. It’s barely touched on, but I think they’ve established it well enough that things should be very interesting between them next season.
As for everything else, it’s true workman-like quality. The fight scenes are ramped up this season in quality and quantity. If I had to make a complaint, I would say that there might have been too many fight scenes. Now, I love a good fight scene, but how many times can watching Daredevil fight ninjas be interesting? Your answer will determine your opinion on that matter. Other than the repetitive ninja fights, there are some interesting and inventive fights as well, even if they tend to pour on the gruesomeness a bit too much. The show falls into HBO levels of over the top gore at a few points, which I know isn’t for everybody.
To sum it up, I think that season 2 of Daredevil is the best thing to come out of Marvel’s TV division, and is a good stretch better than a lot of the films as well. It had its work cut out for it to meet the standard set by season one and Jessica Jones, but I’m confident in saying that this season of Daredevil at the very least met the mark that those two series set. You could even make the argument that it surpassed both. Either way, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better way to burn 13 hours of your life.
+ Charlie Cox continues to improve
+ The addition of Punisher and Elektra
– Foggy and Karen become tiresome at points