One Batch, Two Batch, Penny and Dime

One Batch, Two Batch, Penny and Dime
Courtesy Photo Screenshot from Marvel’s Daredevil, streaming now on Netflix.

Courtesy Photo
Screenshot from Marvel’s Daredevil, streaming now on Netflix.

It’s funny that in a show ostensibly about its eponymous hero that Daredevil season two will critically focus on someone altogether different than our horn-headed friend — The Punisher.

Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) absolutely obliterates the role as Frank Castle, father of a slain family who takes his vendetta against crime with a deadly seriousness. This mirror image to Daredevil, who, like so many in the costume crowd, refuses to kill, takes the focus of the first half of the season. The argument over their respective effectiveness, and for Daredevil, the morality inherent therein, dominates the conversation. Daredevil is, after all, willing to beat a man into a coma and leave him breathing through a tube for months on end, justifying this because the person in question is some form of unquestionable filth, but draws the line at killing in cold-blood. Frank Castle, whose nickname The Punisher is coined early on by the newspapers, doesn’t have that line. He has his mission, and that is to kill any and every person involved in the death of his family.

The line that Matt Murdock dare not cross, the line into cold-blooded murder, is the constant question of Daredevil’s sophomore season. Elektra Natchios, played beautifully here by Élodie Yung, has a near unquenchable lust for blood, yet Matt, and more so Daredevil, feels himself drawn toward her, approaching that darkness and edge ever so slowly, ever so carefully. Toeing the line, but never stepping over, even as Frank or Elektra slaughter another ninja right next to him.

The morality of Marvel’s Netflix heroes has been in question ever since the season finale of Jessica Jones, which shows the titular hero solving her problems in a very definitive way. We like to think of our comic heroes as never crossing that line, even as historians parallel our reactions to them to the myths and legends we create as Americans. Myths, as I know and love them, are usually blood soaked. Our heroes, though, even ones like Captain America, who was created to fight an actual war, are sent into battle with a shield. Ever present is that American idealized heroism; we want to see Cap punching Hitler in the face, not gutting him with a bayonet.

Reality seeps in, though, and while the stuff shown in theaters is still fun for all ages, the content on Netflix is decidedly adult-oriented. Whether it’s framing a camera shift through a shotgun wound to the head or close-up shots of knives dragged across jugular veins, Netflix acts as HBO or Showtime for Disney’s normally all-ages content.

Daredevil season two proves that the first go-around with Nelson & Murdock wasn’t a fluke. Season two more than delivers — it sets the stage for so many things, from the ninja group known as The Hand operating in the bowels of Hell’s Kitchen, to its violent new player, The Punisher, who I expect will have a series announcement any day now.

Daredevil season two is streaming on Netflix in its entirety.

Categories: Commentary