Daredevil S2: Netflix and Marvel’s love letter to comic fans

‘Daredevil’ season 2 translates comics to the screen to a degree not even cinema has managed to do


Zeeshan Ahmad March 30, 2016
Charlie Cox as Daredevil, Elodie Yung as Elektra and Jon Bernthal as The Punisher. PHOTOS: FILE

KARACHI:


Forgive me if I fawn like a fan-boy. Season two of Netflix’s Daredevil has awoken the 10-year-old within me.


Growing up, comics for me were an obsession. They were difficult to follow regularly back in the day — the latest issues available in Pakistan were a couple years old already and even then, book stores and stalls would miss a few in between. I would go to extraordinary lengths to finish story arcs and piece together a complete picture of the complex continuity that they formed. I confess that comics made me a bad person. I have lied. I have cheated. I have even stolen. All because I couldn’t get enough. Many would find comic book continuity cumbersome, but I reveled in it. To this day, I could compile a chronological timeline of the Marvel comics universe(s) or even DC, for that matter.

'Daredevil' goes global in Netflix milestone

Now that that’s off my chest, allow me to explain my fan-boy moment. Although superhero movies and comic book adaptations have been in vogue for more than a decade and a half now, something has always felt amiss. When I was young, comics were undeservedly reviled. Somehow, somewhere, all that contempt has managed to find its way into the myriad adaptations.

Take Christopher Nolan’s Batman, for instance. All critical acclaim aside — and I would never say it was undeserved — the movies appeared almost desperate to shed aside their comic book pedigree. As an avid comic reader, though, all I and many others like me ever wanted was for the stories that lived in our heads to be physically brought to life.

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Readers, that precisely is the joy Netflix’s Daredevil, Season 2 is. With this, Marvel has done what all ‘true believers’ had always yearned for. It has literally translated comics to the small screen to a degree that not even its movies have so far managed.

Season two of Daredevil begins roughly six months after the ending of season one. Wilson Fisk, — the menacing businessman/crime lord who was the main antagonist for the debut season — is safely (or so we’ll assume) behind bars. Matt Murdock — the blind lawyer of Hell’s Kitchen who moonlights as the titular character — seems to have hit his stride in fighting crime. The law firm he runs with his best friend Foggy Nelson is still in dire straits but that’s alright.

However, there’s a new devil in Hell’s Kitchen this season. A grizzled ex-soldier who sees in Daredevil’s approach only a half-measure. The Punisher, he is called. And if that wasn’t enough, an old flame from Matt’s past returns, bringing with her a lot — and I do mean a lot —  of old baggage. I’ll stop right there. Saying anymore without giving away spoilers is nigh impossible, given the kinetic narrative it follows.

Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock once again plays the role of the Catholic-guilt ridden hero, desperately trying to maintain a calm, collected facade to perfection. The true star of season two, however, has to be Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle/the Punisher. For a character which could have very easily gone the way of a one-dimensional force of nature, Bernthal brings surprising vulnerability, humanism and intelligence to it. Elodie Yung, meanwhile, imbues Elektra Natchios — Matt’s college girlfriend and I’ll leave it at that, comic fans know what I’m talking about — with charming mischief and sensuality. Her onscreen chemistry with Cox’s Murdock is also unmistakable.

Performances aside, season two offers much more in action than its predecessor. There is no doubt, Daredevil currently has the best fight choreography on television, if not the screen in general, and a lot more of it is on display this time around. Those enamoured by a certain hallway sequence in season one are in for a special treat in this season’s third episode. Overall, Daredevil Season 2 is a fitting follow-up to last year’s surprise hit in season one. While non-comic fans might find themselves put off by some admittedly campy elements in the latter half of the season at times, I would still advise them to give it a chance.

The series’ overall grim tone aside, let’s not forget this particular Daredevil still exists in the same universe where a World War 2 hero was revived after being frozen in ice for 60 or so years and where a Norse god came to Earth to fight aliens in New York.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st,  2016.

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