About That Daredevil Season 2 Finale…
The Marvel machine remains seemingly invincible churning out multiple films every year that gross billions of dollars collectively. The television side of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe got off to a bit of a rocky start. Agents of Shield made perfect sense on paper. Resurrect Agent Coulson and put together a new team of characters to battle mid-level villains unworthy of The Avengers’ attention.
I struggled through the first half of that season. The Thor: The Dark World crossover episode was cute and there were certainly enough references for fans but it wasn’t enough. Agents of Shield didn’t feel like it was part of the same universe as we were promised.
Until they crossed over with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. When S.H.I.E.L.D/Hydra went down, the entire show changed. Suddenly, they had momentum and quickly capitalized by killing off unpopular characters, introducing new ones and creating an Inhuman mythology of their own.
Next Marvel’s television department turned to Netflix for something different. Four series were ordered featuring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage & Iron Fist. A fifth special event series was also commissioned to unite these heroes as The Defenders. It began with Daredevil.
What I loved about Daredevil Season 1 was its contrasting style and tone compared to the rest of the MCU. Marvel’s movies (and AoS) are bright, colorful, action packed and funny. Daredevil was dark, violent, bloody and remarkably intense. It was a completely different side of Marvel and I was hooked immediately. What separates Daredevil from a show like Agents of Shield is the promises it makes. Yes it’s part of the same universe but we were never led to believe Tony Stark would appear someday. The Avengers don’t have to. Bright and colorful heroes fly over the shadows of Hell’s Kitchen, leaving Daredevil alone to fight.
Daredevil unfolded brilliantly featuring breathtaking action sequences and incredible character moments. It also gave us one of the greatest villains in all of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe: The Kingpin. It all ended with an epic clash for the soul of Hell’s Kitchen and setup a new era of storytelling possibilities for Marvel’s television department. (An era wonderfully built upon by the equally intriguing Jessica Jones.)
When they announced the big ‘hook’ for season 2 I was blown away. The Punisher!? Frank Castle is one of my personal favorite characters in Marvel’s comics. I especially loved his appearance in the 90s Amazing Spider-Man cartoons. But we all know The Punisher’s tragic history on the big screen. Three attempts to kick start a Punisher franchise have failed. It turns out, Frank Castle belongs on television.
Overall, I think Daredevil Season 2 is a worthy follow up to its predecessor. But it was the first few episodes that I’ll always remember. Daredevil vs Punisher was fascinating to watch and it culminated in a suspense filled confrontation pulled straight from the comics. Jon Bernthal is perfect as Castle and his tragic story commands the majority of the first half of Season 2.
But then Elektra showed up during the ‘trial of the century’ and the season became a bit of a grind for me. A lot of her interactions with Matt felt forced and awfully convenient. How do two of Stick’s students happen to meet and date? Did I miss that connection? Stick trained them both as children right? It never came up before?
I understand that you need to create conflict between Matt and his closest allies Karen and Foggy but Elektra made those conflicts feel forced as well.
In the end, the success of Season 2 was entirely dependent on how they wrapped up The Punisher’s journey. He was, by far, the highlight of the season. Especially his performance in the prison episode featuring the return of The Kingpin.
When Castle finally gets revenge on those responsible for the murder of his family, he finds a secret room full of weapons and armor. That moment was huge for me. I thought we were going to see the Punisher team up with Daredevil and unleash every round of ammo from that locker. I wasn’t expecting him to roll up in the Battle Van but I thought he would be more involved than that.
Instead he shows up at the end of the big battle to snipe three members of the Hand. After the big villain was defeated. His story still had a satisfying conclusion with his search for closure coming to an end but it felt light in the end. (At least we got to see him in his famous outfit holding a gun on a rooftop. If this was The Walking Dead the camera would have panned up to his feet then cut to black.)
It was disappointing but at least the inevitable Season 3 will feature a fully armed and deadly Punisher. A Punisher free from the wounds of his past. Welcome to the MCU Frank Castle. You have my blessing to be included in The Defenders and (why not) Infinity War. You’re hilariously outgunned against Thanos but I’m okay with a cameo of some type.