Rejoice, Marvel fans, with good taste!
DAREDEVIL has returned to Netflix for its second season and my 14 year-old self would be shocked, SHOCKED, if he knew how excited I am that its back. During the 90’s, Daredevil wasn’t a top-shelf superhero, and Ben Affleck’s 2003 rendition was certainly cool, but couldn’t quite hold on to the ball for much more than a first down. Yet tonight, the half-century old comic book protagonist was done a decent share of premiere episode justice with entertaining action, organic performances from all, and a well-played character crossover. Its been a full 24-hours since the season two premiere, and DAREDEVIL has held tightly to its 5th rating star, and rightfully so.
Season two reacquaints us with the blind vigilante, played by Charlie Cox, executing a textbook three-perp lay-up over the head of a lone NYPD officer during a night pursuit through Hell’s Kitchen. After a briskly defused church stand-off and a bloody good intro sequence (pun intended) the audience reunites with life-sized man-baby, Elden Hensen, reprising DD’s ride-or-die, fast talking life-partner, Foggy Nelson, as he “guides” Matt down the sidewalk regaling him with a blow-by-blow replay of an implied one-night-stand mixed with a concerned lecture of how Murdock’s alter-ego effects not just his own well being, but that of his friends. Soon, the trio is completed by Karen Page, played once again by Deborah Ann Woll, and the trio resume their life as broke lawyers willing to regularly accept various edible gifts in lieu of payment.
Fifteen-minutes in and no sign of the Kingpin, just the passing of his name and the cold shudder of his reputation from one supporting character to the next. However, the audience barely has a chance to miss Vincent D’Onofrio’s psychopathic Mr. Clean look before a back-ally boardroom of jaded Irish mafia bosses–sharing a collective hard-on to take back control of the underground drug market previously commandeered by the Kingpin–is abruptly and brutally massacred by a hailstorm of gunfire coming from what is only ever described as an “army.” A savage chess move telltale of Marvel’s black-sheep anti-hero, Frank Castle, aka the Punisher, played by Jon Bernthal; the entire episode’s energy is complimented by the foreboding soldier’s attacks, even though you never truly see his face. The entire theme reminded me of JAWS–a silent, devastating force staying just offscreen enough to make his presence known and leaving behind a Tarantino-esque calling card.
After following a series of attacks, police investigations, and a sprinkling of will-they-won’t-they romance between main characters, the episode is bookended with a rooftop fight scene between Punisher and Daredevil whom seem to be evenly matched. That is until Castle pulls out his ankle-holstered pistol and fires at the horned hero with a smile and the line “bang” which, to me, was entirely NOT the Punisher I knew. Here is where I furrowed my brow. In all the issues of The Punisher I’ve enjoyed, Frank Castle was not the guy that smiled after gaining the upper hand in a battle. So why did he snark out an I-win-you-lose jab just before causing Daredevil to tumble out a window to a mysterious fate? If you ask me, it was an out-of-character moment that obligates redemption.