Daredevil Season 2 Retrospective: Vengeance vs. Justice

“What is it, to be a hero? Look in the mirror and you’ll know.”

[[SPOILERS AHEAD FOR DAREDEVIL SEASON 2]]…and technically Spider-Man: Homecoming a bit, but nothing major, I promise

Check out my earlier write-ups for this season here: Part 1, Part 2, Or the full review of Season One

I hadn’t rewatched the second season of Daredevil since it first aired. I remembered liking it, but not much else. So I was not expecting to want to talk about much, but I was very wrong. The first season of Daredevil is one of those rare seasons of TV that makes you wonder “Is it possible to have a perfect season of a TV show?”. The answer is obviously no, perfection is simply too high of a bar. But the fact that it begs the question says a lot about its quality. Season two, for me, doesn’t quite hit that high of a mark for me, but it’s still fantastic and does a whole lot right. It’s biggest failing is in its villains, which I will discuss further down. But first I want to talk about the show’s titular character.

Daredevil is one of the few characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have a secret identity. Because of that, we really get to explore the two sides of Matt Murdock separately. In season one, we focused much more heavily on the Matt Murdoch side of things, since his main interactions outside of knocking heads was with Karen and Foggy. Season two adds a couple more big personalities, but ones who are much more closely tied to his Daredevil side. Elektra (Élodie Yung) and Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) give us insight into the vigilante world and Daredevil’s place in it.

“If I take a night off, people get hurt.”

I want to talk about all the important characters in Matt’s life and how they are developed as well as what they tell us about Matt. But first, I want to single out Charlie Cox for continuing to deliver a captivating performance. He always brings 100% to every scene he is in, and is even able to emote while wearing dark glasses or his cowl, which is damn impressive. One moment in particular was striking. In an early scene, the stress that Matt is under causes him to temporarily go deaf. And in this moment he is alone in his apartment screaming out in terror trying to hear any sound, and it is positively chilling to watch.

So even though I will be talking a lot about the supporting cast, a major factor in the success of the series is Charlie Cox. He encapsulates everything that his friends and enemies bring out of him and he is the glue that holds this show together. He plays counterpoint to every supporting character and does so flawlessly.

“You don’t get to create danger, and then protect us from that danger. That’s not heroic. That’s insane.”

It would be silly of me not to start with Matt’s friend and law partner Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson). He was very important in season one as a way to keep Matt grounded. This season he gets to spread his wings a bit more and really come into his own. We see him start to grow independent of Matt, largely due to Matt’s absence and how distracted he’s been.

I like that the drama between Matt and Foggy comes from a place of concern for Matt’s well being with the full knowledge of what he does. So often, superheroes don’t have anyone that knows their secret so the drama comes from “Where are you going at night?” or “Where are these bruises coming from?” And speculating about what’s happening while dancing around the truth. This setup lets Foggy have more agency and makes him feel less like he’s kept in the dark. He knows what Matt is doing and knows the risks and the reward and can argue from a place of knowledge, which means so much more.

“I don’t know about you, but I worked really hard for my law degree. Nights and everything.”

Right from the start, Foggy is shown branching out on his own. In one scene, he visits the hangout of the fearsome biker gang, The Dogs of Hell. He does this armed only with his determination. Even after he barely survived the encounter, he still requests the information that he came for rather than get away while he can. For someone without the super-senses or training that Matt has, that’s a very brave move.

It’s great to watch Foggy overcome these odds. Usually he gets out of tough situations by using his wits, like Matt is known to do on occasion when he’s not using his fists. But I think he handles these situations even better than Matt does. It never ceases to delight me whenever Foggy goes into full-on Columbo-style “you fucked up by underestimating me” sassy attack mode. He does this while stopping a fight between two gang members at the hospital, when dealing with District Attorney Reyes trying to undermine him, and he even lets loose on Matt when Matt continued to let his work as Daredevil get in the way of the case they were working on.

Towards the end of the series, we see Foggy fully separating from Nelson and Murdock, as he’s recruited by Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss from Jessica Jones) after impressing her firm with his handling of Frank Castle’s trial. A trial which I was glad to see on screen. It gave us a wonderful view into how normal people and the law feel about vigilantes.

“Frank Castle never came home. He just traded in one war zone for another.”

Speaking of Frank Castle, holy hell is he a tremendous standout this season. So, I have always kinda liked Jon Bernthal. He is the kind of actor who has played basically the same generic charming tough guy character in everything I knew him from, but that said, he always played that character very well. Going into this season, I was expecting a typical Jon Bernthal performance as Punisher, and that would’ve been just fine. Probably not as good as Thomas Jane (from the 2004 Punisher film), but perfectly decent. But he really stepped up to the plate for this role and shocked the hell out of me which was a very welcome surprise. He did everything right in this role.

From his wordless and determined chase the first time we see him, through every brutal fight and heartfelt dialogue scene, he was solid every step of the way. Frank Castle served as an example of what happens when vigilantism is taken to its extreme. His determined quest for vengeance and his willingness to kill those who he felt deserved to die contrasted beautifully with Matt Murdock’s moral code and sense of justice. In season one, Matt wrestled with the “devil inside him”, the deep part of him that craved vengeance over justice. Frank Castle shows what Matt could be if he ever gets pushed that far.

“The whole force is split. Some cops want him off the street, others think he’s making our jobs a whole lot easier. But if you ask me it’s only a matter of time before the wrong person gets caught in the crossfire.”

Later on, I will be complaining about how sometimes the series violates the rule of “show, don’t tell”, but I’d like to preemptively defend two of Frank’s pivotal moments. In both the scene on the rooftop with Daredevil (which I talk about in depth here), and the graveyard scene in episode 4, Frank Castle does a lot of talking about his ideology and his history. The biggest reason why this doesn’t violate that rule, is that even though things are spelled out here in dialogue, they are shown and represented in his character throughout the show. These dialogue moments simply fill in the gaps between other defining character moments. Not to mention, they are so well written that I’d likely give them a pass anyway. Frank’s monologue at the graveyard where he describes his last moments with his family is a heartwrenchingly beautiful scene and is the best material I’ve ever seen given to Jon Bernthal and he delivers it wonderfully.

“People that can hurt you, the ones that can really hurt you, are the ones that are close enough to do it. People that get inside you and tear you apart, and make you feel like you’re never gonna recover. I would chop my arm off right here, in this restaurant, just to feel that one more time for my wife.”

The scene with Frank and Karen in the diner in episode 11 is fantastic. It really shows the human, caring side of Frank as he teaches Karen a valuable lesson on love. This is the first time that Karen has really had a chance to talk about her feelings for Matt out loud, so we get to see her try to make sense of those feelings. It’s also a great moment for Frank. In the past, we’ve either seen him talk about his family in the context of finding vengeance, or in the sense of parental love. But now we see Frank talk about his romantic love for his wife. It’s a touching moment that shows the more human side of Frank that we see haven’t seen much of since his arrest.

“You cross over to my side of the line you don’t get to come back from that. Not ever.”

In their final dialogue scene with each other, Matt tries to convince Frank to join forces in the search for The Blacksmith. Matt is desperate at this point and even suggests that just this once they can solve things Frank’s way when they find him. But Frank stops him. Despite trying to convince Matt on that rooftop that he’s not going far enough, and his constant frustration that Matt won’t let him kill when they fight on the same side (a hilarious moment every time), Frank urges him not to follow in that path. This shows that even though Frank feels his way is right and that Daredevil doesn’t do enough, Frank still feels the weight of his choices, he knows how hard it is and that just like his victims, the results are permanent. These choices stay with him. He knows that Matt couldn’t handle the guilt that would weigh on him, and wants to protect him.

After Frank Castle succeeds in his quest for vengeance against those who caused the death of his family, he makes one more choice. The choice as to what his next step will be. Despite earning the name in the press earlier, this is when he truly becomes The Punisher. He turns away from Karen’s moral grounding and literally and figuratively closes the door to her.

“We’re not talking about something that happened to Frank Castle, we’re talking about something that is happening to him.”

I have to admit, the first time I watched through this season, I missed a crucial character detail about Karen Page. I missed it so hard that I went into this re-watch complaining that it wasn’t there. But it totally was. In season one of Daredevil, Karen is kidnapped by Wilson Fisk’s right hand man, James Wesley. During her escape, she shoots and kills him. Watching through the first time, I was excited to see how taking a life would effect her going forward, but was sad to see that it was never brought up at all in season two.

What I failed to realize was that even though they didn’t explicitly talk about that moment, it served as a core reason why Karen was so sympathetic towards Frank Castle this entire season. She knows that killing is wrong, but can’t concede that it’s never necessary, and that sometimes it’s completely justified. She has to take this stance. She has to rationalize it or the guilt would eat her up. Even Frank Castle knows that once you’ve killed it changes you. But by seeing that there is a vigilante who goes to those extremes, unlike her savior Daredevil, it helps her cope with her own conscience.

“Ever since we took on Frank’s case, I keep asking myself if there’s really a difference between between someone who saves lives and someone who prevents lives from needing to be saved at all.”

All of that comes to a head when Karen and Matt have an argument about the ethics of Frank Castle’s methods. This personal history is why the argument between her and Matt was so intense and heartbreaking for both of them. It wasn’t just the sense that the other person has a different moral stance, but each thought that it meant that they themselves wouldn’t be accepted by the other person if they knew about what they’ve done. Matt fears that Karen thinks that Daredevil doesn’t go far enough and would see his moral code as a weakness just like Frank did. And Karen worries that Matt wouldn’t understand or forgive her if he knew that she had taken a life, even to save herself.

It was such an effective way to build upon both of these characters, and I totally missed it the first time through.

“Well, sweetheart, you don’t break into my house and then talk to me about trust”

Like Frank Castle, Elektra is another character that could easily have been half-assed. A mysterious and sexy character from Matt’s past whose reappearance complicates his budding relationship with Karen. Not a new idea by a long shot. And again, under certain circumstances wouldn’t have even been bad. But Daredevil once again goes above and beyond. From her first set of flashbacks where we see an organic and passionate relationship bud between the two of them, and then suddenly come to a grinding halt when Elektra offers Matt the chance to kill the man responsible for his father’s death.

This was such a great moment showing how Matt was starting to let his morals slide under Elektra’s influence (breaking into a house, vandalizing for fun), and also demonstrating how far Elektra was willing to go. This had the same jarring impact as when real world relationships have a fiery beginning only to be suddenly derailed by a fundamental difference. Whether it’s wanting kids or not, or in what kind of environment each person wants to live in. Those kind of relationship enders hurt far worse since both parties still feel the same strong emotional bond. But like any good fiction, Daredevil takes this to an extreme not often found in the real world. At least, I’ve never had an argument with a significant other about their stance on murder, but your mileage may vary.

Anyway, once she reenters his life and he finds out that she’s been trained by Stick as well, Elektra gives Matt someone to truly connect with on the side of his Daredevil persona (after some initial hesitance and friction). He is even willing to leave with her in the end because she’s the only one that understands both sides of him, who sees him wholly. Especially after his argument with Karen that  made him not want to reveal to her his  identity as a vigilante. He’s been divided for so long, and Elektra makes him feel complete. And this makes him feel more alive than he’s ever felt. Making her death carry with it even more weight, as Matt loses a piece of himself. This is likely what prompts him to reveal his identity to Karen in the end. It’s his attempt to reconnect with someone fully the way he did with Elektra. 

“It doesn’t mean we have to fight Stick’s way. He kills his enemies, and we don’t have to. It’s not easy. It’s impossible. But it’s a choice and it’s a choice that I remake every single day. Every second, sometimes.”

Matt spends a lot of time trying to convince Elektra to understand his morality rather than Stick’s. She’s Born to kill, and Stick encouraged that, making her into a warrior that will stop at nothing.

Stick is a fascinating character and a great mentor figure. By great I don’t mean morally good, I mean dramatically interesting. Unlike most “old wise mentors” he is unreliable, manipulative, and kind of an asshole. His motives are also largely unclear, which makes every scene he is in filled with tension and mystery. Which actor Scott Glenn steers into beautifully.

“He thinks you’re worth saving. Earn that.”

What I find really curious is that Stick is the only character this season to actually praise Matt’s decision making and morality. Foggy, Karen, Claire, Frank, Elektra, and oftentimes even Stick himself, all argue with Matt’s decisions at one point or another. Matt is always trying to convince people that he’s doing the right thing. Ironically, Stick was the only person Matt never really tried to convince, already certain he’d stubbornly disagree. Yet Stick relented, not in front of Matt of course, and tried to make Elektra see things from Matt’s point of view. It speaks to the respect that Stick has for Matt, despite acting somewhat antagonistic most of the time.

“You know the problem with martyrs? The good ones end up dead.”

Despite all my rampant nerding out, I will be the first to admit that this season does have its problems. Some it fixes, some it makes up for, and a couple are just frustrating.

First off, right away, the Daredevil outfit takes some getting used to. Something is just off about the silhouette and/or the way the cowl sits on Charlie Cox’s head. For me anyway, it was pretty distracting. Fortunately, this is fixed a ways into the season when he gets a new cowl. It works so much better, but it would’ve been nice to have had him look that good the whole time.

As much as I raved about how a lot of the conflict helped inform Matt’s character, the drama between Matt, Foggy, and Karen that started out great and well motivated, eventually went a little too far. Especially since it was dealing with very similar arguments that had already happened in season one. On the plus side, Karen and Foggy did plenty of growing on their own and weren’t simply reduced to these arguments. That would’ve been way worse.

One of the most glaring problems with Daredevil season two, is that it suffers from the MCU’s long-standing villain problem. Few can deny that the MCU in all its forms tells great, layered stories about its heroes. In the movies, however, the villains tend to lack the same depth that the heroes have and come off as one-dimensional characters simply there to have someone for the hero to fight (the big exceptions to that are Loki, and more recently Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes in Spider-Man: Homecoming). Season one of both Daredevil and Jessica Jones gave us amazingly layered villains in Wilson Fisk and Kilgrave. But season 2 of Daredevil opted to give that focus to its new anti-heroes Elektra and Frank Castle. This leaves the overarching villains in this season, The Blacksmith and Nobu/The Hand, somewhat lacking. Both of them are introduced late and their threat doesn’t have that same lingering omnipresence that Fisk or Kilgrave had. And with the Hand, even though they show up frequently with waves of ninjas, they are all very indistinct and feel like reasons to have fight scenes rather than furthering the plot or the intrigue.

The most damning piece of evidence is that I just don’t care about Nobu or The Blacksmith (and this is me we are talking about. I cared about the villain in Ant-Man, for crying out loud. That’s how forgiving I am). While they aren’t really the focus of the story, it’s more about Elektra and Punisher, the characters still treat these threats like a big deal but it’s just hard to care as much as it seems like we should. They both seem tacked on and not fully fleshed out. Unlike virtually every other major character, Nobu and the Blacksmith fall into the trap of telling instead of showing. Their entire motivations and character development is done through simple expository dialogue. We get more interesting scenes with Kingpin in just one of his season 2 episodes than we get with Nobu or The Blacksmith all season. (Which is a little unfair since Fisk is already established, but still.)

Fortunately, for the same reason the MCU films often get a pass, the characters that they do develop are so good that it makes up for having some less deep characters. But it’d be nice to see that level of care given to all the major characters.

One nitpick I want to bring up isn’t actually my own, but it’s worth mentioning. I’ve read several posts about the way that Frank’s trial is portrayed on screen. (Such as this one hereAnd while I absolutely agree that all of their points are quite valid and that the shows portrayal of the way court works is borderline laughable…I don’t care. Should I? Probably a bit. There are several glaring issues that even someone with no experience in law could probably come up with. But I can’t bring myself to actually let it diminish the show in my eyes. These scenes weren’t really intended to show a court drama. It was to further the plot and the characters, which I think it succeeded at. So, it’s one of those complaints that I would not argue with someone if they took issue with it, but for me it just wasn’t that big of a deal.

However, there is one misstep that I find it much harder to excuse. In the final scene, Matt reveals to Karen that he’s Daredevil and then the scene just ends. It’s a crime that they didn’t show us Karen’s reaction to finding out Matt was Daredevil. And since his next appearance is in The Defenders and not Daredevil season 3, it seems unlikely that we’d pick up right at that moment. It just feels like a cop out to make a big moment to end on. Interestingly, I don’t feel that way about Aunt May in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but that’s probably because we, as the audience, are far more invested in Karen Page than in Aunt May. We’ve seen Karen develop and change over time and to rob us of such a huge moment is a damn shame.

But on the whole, I had a great time re-watching this season. Jon Bernthal was the big stand out for me, but all of the performances were great, and the tone and setting were just as on point as they were last season. I’m looking forward to seeing Matt again in The Defenders, but first, it’s on to Luke Cage! Expect some posts for that show coming up soon. Thanks for reading, and be sure to follow the blog to make sure you don’t miss a post, and let me know what you thought of this season down in the comments!

Daredevil Season 2 Re-Watch, Part 1

“You’re one bad day away from being me.”

Wow. I love when I watch episodes that are so good that I simply have to talk about them. Season 2 Episode 3 of Daredevil is one of those episodes. No big reveals or major twists are spoiled in this post, but if you want to watch the episode completely blind (hah!) you should know I do talk about the events of the episode and some of the key dialogue points.

This episode, titled “New York’s Finest”, is a spectacular hour of television. Virtually none of the runtime is wasted, and each scene is as engaging as the last. The main arc is Daredevil and Punisher talking on the roof while Daredevil is chained up. And the supporting arcs follow Foggy as he tries to enlist Claire Temple in helping him locate Matt, and we also see Karen trying to pressure the Assistant DA into helping her track down The Punisher. Karen’s scenes are good, and really show off her character and drive, as well as her ability to get things done, but they aren’t what I want to talk about right now.

“You want the ER perspective? Victims love him. Victimizers? Want him more dead than ever.”

First I want to talk about the scenes with Foggy and Claire. Their scenes are a beautiful contrast to the scenes happening with Matt and Frank (more on that in a bit). While Daredevil and The Punisher are up on a rooftop debating exactly how much violence is necessary in order to make a difference in the world, Foggy and Claire each show alternatives to both their solutions.

Claire puts helping people in need first. She sees things from the victim’s point of view and rather than stopping or punishing the perpetrator, she focuses on actually helping the people who are in need. She’s non-discriminatory in her aid of people. She will patch up superheroes and gang members alike. Claire exemplifies the virtue of both having a moral code, and still providing care to all who need it, regardless of background or circumstance.

And then there’s Foggy, a character with just as strong of a moral compass as Claire, only with a different skill set. Throughout the series, Foggy uses his law knowledge in order to secure justice for his clients. In this regard, he is often even better than Matt when it comes to using “by the book” solutions to problems. And in this episode we see him not just use his powers of persuasion for his clients like he has in the past, but uses them to stop two rival gang members from getting into a violent fight right in the middle of a crowded ER surrounded by innocent bystanders. He deescalates the situation with an amazing speech (any single part of which would do the speech injustice if I pulled quotes out of it here) and proves that violence in any form doesn’t always have to be the answer. This further illustrates that perhaps Matt’s morals are in fact closer to those of the Punisher’s then he’s willing to admit.

“What do you do? You act like it’s a playground. You beat up the bullies with your fists. You throw ’em in jail, everybody calls you a hero, right? And then a month, a week, a day later, they’re back on the streets doing the same goddamn thing. You hit ’em, and they get back up. I hit ’em, and they stay down. It’s permanent. I make sure that they don’t make it out on the street again. I take pride in that.”

Which brings us to Matt and Frank. No amount of writing about these scenes will ever fully illustrate how fantastic I think they are. Just two men talking on a rooftop, one of them chained up. It’s so simple, yet it goes so far into the core of both of these characters. After spending the whole first season of Daredevil watching Matt struggle with the morality of what he does, longing to reconcile justice with violence, we think we see Matt finally come to terms with what he does. But then right away in this season, just three episodes in, we see him confronted with what happens when his sense of morality is pushed just a little bit further.

The first season we see him trying to convince himself and Foggy that he needs to go to extremes to see justice done, but now we see Matt on the other side, trying to define where that line is between extreme and too extreme. At their core, there is not much of a difference between Frank and Matt. They both believe that the justice system doesn’t always produce the best results and take to vigilantism to see “true” justice done. Their only difference is in how far the push it.

“You know what I think of you, hero? I think you’re a half-measure. I think you’re a man who can’t finish the job. I think that you’re a coward.”

In Frank’s mind, Daredevil is just as ineffectual as the police. He goes around beating up bad guys and enjoys being a symbol and feeling that because he gets praise from the people in the city that it makes him the good guy. Frank doesn’t need or seek validation. His goal begins and ends with ridding the city of evil people. He is calculating and unyielding and in his mind this puts him in the right.

It can be argued that by trying to convince Matt that he is doing the right thing that he is seeking validation for what he does, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think that he wants Matt to see his way of thinking because he sees himself in Matt. He sees someone who has the same goals but just isn’t going far enough. He also knows that if he doesn’t convince him, that Matt will continue to try and stop him, Matt even said as much.

“What kind of choice is that?” “The kind I make every time I pull the trigger.”

Frank believes wholeheartedly that what Matt does doesn’t actually help anyone because he doesn’t go far enough. The criminals that Matt lets live have every chance in the future to hurt or kill someone else, and Frank believes that by letting them live, those next victims blood is on Matt’s hands. To prove this, he puts Matt into an impossible situation. He makes Matt choose between killing a murderous criminal, or killing Frank to stop Frank from killing the criminal. Frank says this is the choice that he is faced with every time he kills someone. That he is weighing the criminal’s life against those of his potential victims.

To say Matt struggles with this choice is an understatement. Eventually Matt attempts an option number three. Trying to stop Frank, but without killing him. Ultimately, however, this fails. Frank still takes the shot and the criminal dies, blaming Matt for not stopping him. This proves Frank’s point, that by not going all the way, and not taking that responsibility on, that people will die.

Even with this ending, there is still debate for which method is “right”. It all comes down to philosophy of accountability. Are you morally obligated to kill if it saves someone else? Does this absolve you of taking a life? Is inaction worse? These questions don’t have clear cut answers and I love that this series and this episode in particular does a fantastic job at showing Frank’s argument in a powerful and effective way. It really sells his character, and makes for some amazing tv.

“For Christ’s sake, that’s what you think? I’m just some crazy asshole going around unloading on whoever I want to? I think that the people I kill need killing, that’s what I think.”

It’d be remiss of me to talk about this episode and not mention the final fight sequence. Matt, injured, with an empty gun duct taped to one hand and a length of chain ties around his other arm, makes his way down from the rooftop to the ground floor of this building fighting biker gang members all the way down. It’s a hell of an action set-piece. Top-notch fight choreography and great camera work. There is a lot of love, care, and hard work that went into making this scene as good as it is. That said, I am genuinely conflicted when trying to compare it to last season’s memorable hallway fight (at this point a Marvel Netflix staple, and a welcome one). While the season 2 scene is definitely more, and it’s executed beautifully, part of the charm of the season 1 fight scene was its simplicity. The brutal, clearly exhausting fight was unlike anything I’d seen before, showing Matt’s determination and ability to take a beating and keep on fighting. The season 2 fight lacked those thematic qualities, but put forward an excellent and engaging fight scene. So comparing them is very difficult. But, just like when I think about Fisk vs Kilgrave, if I have trouble comparing two things because they are just both so good, then that means they are doing something right, and I’m looking forward to the rest of this re-watch (and the Punisher hallway fight in later episodes which I am sure I will talk about once I get there).

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you thought of the episode, and also which hallway fight scene from Daredevil or any of the Marvel Netflix shows is your favorite!

Read Part 2 here.

Daredevil Season One Retrospective

Originally posted to Facebook on 7/27/17

Daredevil Season 1 spoiler free retrospective:

First off, I am very pleased with my decision to rewatch these Netflix Marvel shows leading up to next months The Defenders. It had been a while since watching Daredevil season 1, and while I remembered the basic story beats and the fact that I really enjoyed it, I had forgotten about all the little moments that elevate the series from “good” to “excellent”. Like other great modern TV shows like “Breaking Bad” or “Westworld”, what sets apart a show like Daredevil is that it shows excellence and care in all facets of the show. Engaging cinematography, sharp writing, pitch perfect acting from both the leads and the supporting cast. It’s this level of detail, and dare I say, love for filmmaking, that makes a show stand out in today’s plethora of viewing options.

Charlie Cox as Matt Murdoch (aka Daredevil) does a wonderful job as this conflicted hero. A man trying to do what he can to do the right thing, while pushing the boundaries of what he should be doing from both a legal perspective and a spiritual one. The show does a wonderful job tying in Matt’s Catholicism and giving weight to his deeds as a violent vigilante as he struggles with whether or not the ends justify his means. Between that and the slow burn backstory of antagonist Wilson Fisk (played beautifully by Vincent D’Onofrio), the show highlights its first season main theme of man trying to both discover and come to terms with his true nature.

On that topic, Wilson Fisk. Damn. At the time season 1 was released (and very arguably still to this day), Wilson Fisk was the best villain that Marvel has put on screen. It helps that due to the run-time of television he was given much more screen time to thoughtfully explore his character. We get to really dive into what makes Fisk tick. Between flashbacks, and scenes told from his perspective, his character is given weight and depth that feature films struggle to give their villains (notable exceptions are Tom Hiddleston’s Loki from Thor and Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toombs from this year’s Spider-Man Homecoming). We see how Fisk’s childhood and his father’s toxic masculinity (an understatement if there ever was one) shaped him into the man he is today. Even down to the voice that D’Onofrio uses for the role, one of fearful restraint, like a child trying not to raise his voice lest he become his father. This lets those moments where we see his rage and unrestrained power come out much more terrifying and impactful. It’s one of those character choices that I’d love to say I’d come up with as a performer, but likely wouldn’t even think to do it. Whether it was a choice by the actor or director, it was a great one.

The show also knows when to balance the tone. Elden Henson, as Matt’s friend and law partner Foggy Nelson, keeps the comedy coming in, but also knows when to give the series some of it’s best moments of heart. He is a great pair with Matt as he has the strongest moral compass in the show and by his example lets us really see when Matt starts to push things too far, highlighting the imperfections in our hero in the best way possible.

I could gush about this show for days (and I kinda already have been), but right now I am going to jump into Jessica Jones, so expect my comments to soon be talking up the amazing Krysten Ritter and David Tennant. So what did you all think of Daredevil? What were your favorite parts or flaws that you couldn’t help but notice?

Daredevil Re-Watch Early Thoughts

Originally posted to Facebook on 7/24/17

Wow. I’m rewatching Daredevil and there was a great moment I never considered before. Karen is talking to Matt about his blindness, and she asks if he remembers what it’s like to see. He says yes, and that he’s supposed to say that he doesn’t miss it, that he learned in trauma recovery to define yourself by what you have, value the differences and all that. And as he’s saying this, it’s almost by rote, like he knows this is how to explain to people that he can’t see like he’s done many times before. And it’s important to remember that due to his powers he can, for all intents and purposes, see. As long as something is moving or making noise. But then his tone changes as he adds, “but, I’d give anything to see the sky one more time”

Oftentimes when talking about Matt Murdoch, it’s an easy joke that he’s a blind man who has the superpower to see, and that his blindness is just an act he keeps up for appearances, without many real implications outside of reading text. But this moment really sells how much he really does miss having true sight, because things like the sky are things he will never see again, despite his impressive superpowers.

Goddamn this is a great show, and Charlie Cox delivers a beautiful and nuanced performance every step of the way. I’m even more excited for this re-watch now.