Here we are. I’ve already watched every episode of Daredevil Season 2 (recently released on Netflix in its entirety) and my review of it is identical to Season 1. The villains steal the show.
Lot’s of spoilers ahead probably.
In season 1 Vincent D’Onofrio literally/figuratively kills it as the ruthless Wilson Fisk aka The King Pin. Season 2’s primary antagonist is the Punisher, played impeccably by Jon Bernthal. Both of these characters overshadow the titular protagonist in the same way the skyline of New York overshadows the action of the series.
The King Pin and the Punisher benefit from a character quality that Daredevil himself lacks: Certainty. They have goals and they are single-minded when it come to obtaining their aims. Daredevil by comparison is stagnant. He’s interested in the status-quo. He’s vaguely in favor of stopping the bad guys but he hesitates boorishly at every turn.
It came to a head when I realized I was sitting there literally fast-forwarding through almost every scene with Matt Murdoch/Daredevil so that I could get back to the Punisher. This was helped along by the fact that the two rarely share screen time, or even overlapping plot lines. The Punisher wants revenge for the murder of his family. Daredevil wants to keep the streets safe, so as soon as he manages to put the Punisher away (halfway through the season) DD fades from the Punisher’s story line.
And so the second half of the season relegates Daredevil to fighting (yawn) ninjas, while the Punisher worms his way into every other facet of the show, including coming face to face with the not only the King Pin but he also routinely saves the life of Daredevil’s primary love interest Karen Page.
Does the titular character factor into any of this? Nah, because Daredevil is too busy chasing after and fighting alongside Electra, a ninja gal. I don’t have strong feelings about Electra. She seems okay. She’s a female hero which is cool. I never read much Daredevil as a kid but I do know the central tenant of Electra’s deal. She gets stabbed through the chest and killed. I’d offer a spoiler warning, but honestly it’s like the most widely known thing ever. Spoiler warning Vader is Luke’s dad, Achilles has a shitty heel and Electra dies.
By the end of the season it was like watching two different shows at once. On the one hand there was the story of Frank Castle aka the Punisher, a vigilante who operates under the assumption that punching criminals and dropping them off at the police station is for wussies (because shooting them in head is a more permanent and therefore better option). This guy makes everyone in Game of Thrones look restrained and pragmatic. But even more interesting than just mindless violence, the Punisher offers us a glimpse of vigilante justice that is diametrically opposed to the ‘ethical/no killing’ type espoused by heroes like Daredevil and Batman. It’s an intriguing comment on the genre and it would have been made even more interesting if Daredevil had been around to offer a counter point.
Instead there’s hours of Daredevil fighting ninjas for no real reason. There’s a mythical reason, but even Daredevil himself proclaims that he doesn’t really believe in any of it. So why should we? And while Double D is busy punching and jumping around oriental cliches Frank Castle is coldly telling a murderous Wilson Fisk that next time they meet only one of them is walking away. In that moment I, as the viewer, knew for a fact that he wasn’t kidding around. This is the Punisher. He doesn’t pull punches. He shoots people in the head.
I’ll leave you to choose which story was more gripping.
I’m just going to come out and say it: I hate ninjas. I think they’re boring, lazy and slightly racist. I mean historical Shenobi don’t resemble these guys very much. I myself am part Irish and part Japanese, and this show has both Irish villains and Japanese villains, and yet I felt one of these was racist and the other was awesome (hint I enjoyed the ethnicity who drank whisky at their comrades’ wake). Ninjas are about as interesting as cowboys or pirates appearing mid-season. In fact it would have been so much cooler if they were pirates. Or, like, anything else. Musketeers? Apache warriors? Roman gladiators?
So I watched Daredevil season 1 because of Wilson Fisk, who in my mind is actually a Spiderman villain, and I watched season two for the Punisher which could very well be a title all on his own. I’ll let my roommate’s boyfriend sum it up, “I hope they make a Punisher series.”