Regular listeners will know that we dedicated some time to Daredevil in last week’s podcast and if it wasn’t for a certain trailer that dropped we would have spent a lot longer on the subject I suspect. In fact if that trailer hadn’t have been a thing, I probably would have finished season one of Daredevil a lot soon than I did. Damn you JJ!
Needless to say this post will contain significant spoilers for season one of Daredevil. If you haven’t read my season one review part one you might want to read that first, it’s a little lighter on the spoilery stuff. For those of you who have finished the show; check out Paul's review and take a look at the other Netflix Marvel shows here including the currently in production AKA Jessica Jones.
Right, where to start! This week, news broke about Daredevil season two, read that here, which surprised me a little bit because there are so many balls in the air over at Marvel. With the aforementioned AKA Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the Defenders show destined for Netflix, a spin off from Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. featuring Mockingbird and Hunter and presumably another series of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. planned, you could be forgiven for thinking that the bases are loaded and finances stretched to breaking point. That’s not how Marvel play ball though, they know that Daredevil is hot and they’ve pulled the trigger on more, even though some of the crew will have to sit it out due to prior commitments (show runner Steven S. DeKnight for one). This could be taken as Marvel dragging their heels on the second season the way they did with Guardians Of The Galaxy. Most big budget movies go into production with sequels on the slate (Hunger Games, Harry Potter and just about all the DC characters suiting up at the moment), in fact Marvel are doing it now with Ant-Man. Their approach seems to be, “lets see if it lands with an audience and then decide” they pivot with the ball, react to the response of their audience. Marvel are very good at this. So season two is coming, i’ll touch on that later, but for now lets focus on the second half of season one.
Black Sky At Night
When last we spoke I had just seen the episode that featured Stick. Remember there will be significant SPOILERS from this point forward. Please don’t read on unless you’ve seen the show. I expected we’d get more of Stick. As it is he was pretty much just there to flesh out Matt’s back story and set up, what I can only imagine is a long con for Marvel at this point. That is the beauty of this show; they will introduce a major character, played by a not insignificant actor and have them service the story and move on. They do it with Stick, they did it with Claire. There are no fanfares for the players here, they check their ego at the door, come in, knock it outta the park and leave silently, I love that. So lets look back before looking ahead:
Stick It To Me
Much like Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman, Stick trains Matt to fight, to use his abilities and ignore his perceived disabilities, but he ultimately ends up at odds with his student. Stick enters Matt’s life when the young boy is living in a convent, now orphaned and disabled. Stick shows little compassion for the child and instead trains him to kick ass (and swear), and eat ice cream. The explanation for Matt’s abilities is simple and elegant, this guy aint a God or a test subject, has not paid for the privilege of power. No he earned it the old fashioned way and got bloodied doing it.
He will need that training later.
In much the same way as Ra’s Al Ghul wanted Gotham to fall, Stick wants to take out the Black Sky. the Black Sky is a weapon / child, and this is Marvel’s long con. I suspect they’ve seeded the character / concept here in order to have it pay off later. It will be in either a later series of DD or could form the central plot of The Defenders. Stick reports to a rather scary, shadow clad growly dude with a scared back, this man has a vested interest in Stick’s activities. Could he be connected the The Hand? Only time will tell.
Matt isn’t the only one to get some character development in this side of the season. Kingpin gets his time on the spot light as we get a really incredible origin story for him here too. I will save you the spoiler laden recap and simply say that this positions Wilson Fisk at the top of my favourite characters list as it relates to the MCU. Not just bad guys, the whole lot! It is a skilful writer that can make you have sympathy for the Devil, but its a rare kind of genius who can slowly, and with great care tease a character out for the grey and deep into the black, simultaneously maintaining a sympathetic element. Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk may well be this series’ greatest achievement, and that makes my recommendations for season two very difficult.
Box Out (Insert Witty Title)
Before I go any further I need to follow up on something I mentioned in part one of my review. That something is Daredevil Born Again, a series written by Frank Miller. This was my go to book as a young geek. Its hard and unforgiving, and it takes the characters we have grown to love in this series, and it drags them to hell. Without spoiling the story (too much) Fisk discovers Matt’s secret identity and destroys the man’s life, piece by piece. You barely, if ever see Matt in the costume, in fact the costume is placed on a psychopath to discredit Daredevil in the eyes of the city. Its brutal beauty done as only Miller can manage. Now, I want to see this play out on Netflix. If I didn’t know better I’d say the tone of this show was deliberately set to accommodate this storyline later on. The thing is; some of the key players in the story are now gone, season one left a lot of hats on the ground, so moving forward will require that the writers establish a suitable replacement. Lets hope they do that in season two as they develop the Black Sky story. Then deliver Born Again in season three, when the losses will be truly felt. I want to say the futures bright for this show, but its actually pitch black, and I love it.
Bench The Big Guy
Once again major SPOILERS ahead for the rest of season one! You have been warned..
It looks as though Matt might actually kill Fisk right up until the final moments of the final episode. They do that thing where the hero considers taking the ultimate action against his protagonist only to stop himself and later regret it as the body count starts to rise. Its really compelling here especially because the body count, or at least most of its serves only to reinforce Fisk’s position. Throughout the second half of the season we see Fisk’s partners drop one by one, mostly by his hand.
One of these is incredibly important to Matt’s story. Nobu (Peter Shinkoda) takes on Matt after Fisk sets matt up. The two are well matched and Matt takes a pounding, and a slicing for that matter. Once Nobu is accidentally killed, Fisk and his aide Wesley enter the fray. Seeing Matt in bad shape only serves to tempt Fisk into action. He pounds on Matt in an unrelenting assault that will have you wincing and looking away from the screen. Matt barely escapes with whats left of his life.
This is a critical turn for the show. Its after this beating that Foggy learns who Matt really is. It alters the chemistry of the show, dramatically (and for the better no less!). The beating also convinces Matt that he needs a suit if he is going to survive long enough on the street to make a difference.
During their altercation Matt notices that Fisk has an armoured weave beneath the material of his suit. He tracks down the guy who made it and “commissions” a suit for himself. The nickname Matt has already earned on the street, The Devil Of Hell’s Kitchen has made an impression on the tailor and works its way into the design, although we don’t get to see it onscreen until the final act of the final episode. Perfectly timed.
Fisk suffers losses in his half of the show too, losses that will have you feeling sympathy for the man. Again. Vanessa is all but assassinated by someone close to Fisk, Wesley is killed by someone I won’t spoil here, but if you’ve seen it already “HOLY SHIT! RIGHT?” Its this latter loss that really hits home. I did not see this coming, I never thought they would sacrifice such significant character in this way. Followed as it was by yet another significant death and it had me wondering just who might go so early in this shows run. That can be felt most when Daredevil and Fisk face off at the end, I couldn’t decide if they were going to kill Fisk off in this season or not, would Matt cross that line?
The answer is no, but it could have gone either way there for a moment. What is important, at least for me, is that we leave Fisk out of the story for a bit now. Give him some time away, let Matt deal with other adversaries before he goes up against Fisk for round two. Make no mistake they will confront each other again, but next time Fisk won’t allow Matt to get close, he will likely chose to hurt those closest to Matt (see the Born Again section). I honesty feel that The Kingpin should return, at the earliest, in the closing moments of the season two finale. Perhaps when Matt is at his lowest, bloodied and bruised, close to death, thats when Fisk will chose to strike. Hard and remorseless.
Wardrobe Malfunction A Retraction
In part one of my review I complained about the costume(s). I think its mainly because I grew to love the black suit and mask so much that I had trouble adjusting to the look of the red suit when it leaked. I did say I needed to wait for the suit to be in context and properly lit, and I was right. By the time Matt’s in the red “tights” we want him to benefit from the extra protection, and my goodness does it look great onscreen. the dark red and the black together, the horned helmet and the billy clubs, everything is pitch perfect. There is no need to change a thing here. You hear me producers? Leave it be!
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this might actually be my favourite thing Marvel have done so far. The tone perfectly matches the character and it is a breath of fresh air in the ever growing MCU. I am looking forward to the further developments on Netflix, the new shows there and the spin off from S.H.I.E.L.D. Could they follow this tone on that show? I hope not. The reason this works isn’t because they call each other dick head, or you see a little side boob, its not because the gunshots are splashy or that you feel every single concussive blow. The reason it works is that its the perfect marriage between the content and the tone. Something Zack Snyder needs to learn over on BvS.
If you haven seen this show, you’re missing out. Go get Netflix and write off thirteen hours of your life. Its worth it. If you have seen it, I’d love to hear what you think. Drop you thoughts in the comments below.
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