The Netflix/Marvel Studios streaming TV show Daredevil blew away critics and fans alike last year when it premiered. Bolstered by a sensitive yet sturdy performance by Charlie Cox as blind New York lawyer Matt Murdock, who is the vigilante Daredevil, the series was unparalleled. Daredevil rose above its comic book roots and became one of the, if not the, best superhero TV shows ever made.
Now Daredevil returns for a second season that just became available for streaming and it deftly avoids the sophomore curse. Matt Murdock is still moonlighting as the superhero Daredevil, who uses his enhanced senses (except sight) to fight crime, and dealing with the damning responsibility to fight for justice. Except now, new headaches have entered his locale of Hell’s Kitchen in the forms of the deadly vigilante Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) and Matt’s former-lover-turned-assassin Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung).
Both antagonists come in the wake of the void left behind when the crime lord, Wilson Fisk, was defeated by Daredevil last season. Many criminal elements are trying to fill that void but a deadly one-man army is taking them out. As these stories go, this man, Castle, quickly catches the attention of Daredevil and unlike past thugs Matt is used to dealing with, Castle is more than a match.
Then Matt’s world is turned even more topsy-turvy when Elektra re-enters his life, just as he and his assistant Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) start to grow closer to each other. Like a moth to a flame, Matt is drawn to his former lover who is an equally deadly killer in her own right.
This season of Daredevil is simply terrific. It still delivers the hard-boiled, violently graphic scenes while further acknowledging its comic book roots. From the very first episode, a comic-book drawn sweeping vista of New York City that is laced with the sounds of summer violence, to the gut-wrenching fights that are too vicious to watch at times, Daredevil continues to demonstrate why it is still the best superhero TV show.
Aside from the stunt work and the noirish cinematography, what anchors Daredevil are the above-par performances. Charlie Cox still delivers a nuanced and ground portrayal of a man trying to quell his savage side, while on the opposite end Jon Bernthal nearly steals the show with his wounded, savage performance as Castle. This version of the Punisher is arguably the best one yet as Castle terrifies everyone with his single-minded mission to punish the guilty while emoting some pathos as his story is unveiled. Even the supporting cast like Elden Henson as the always amiable Fogyy Nelson has many memorable scenes that truly buttress the main actors.
Along with Jessica Jones and given how successful Marvel Studios has been with this endeavor, perhaps the studio should just concentrate on these Netflix productions rather than the pedestrian efforts on ABC. The second season of Daredevil demonstrates this idea wholeheartedly.
Lewis T. Grove