Monday, March 21, 2016

Well Now I Want a Punisher Series, or Thoughts on Daredevil Season 2

And suddenly, two of my favorite shows on TV are about lawyers, Better Call Saul and Daredevil.  Charlie Cox returns to play Matt Murdock, blind lawyer by day and the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen by night in Season Two of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix.  He’s finally in full Daredevil mode with a proper costume and the non-lethal billy clubs he throws around like batarangs.  And he’s bathed in red lights from brake lights or convenient neon crosses from a nearby church.  The religious iconography also returns, and Matt even has a conversation with Frank Castle about Catholicism in between trading fists.   We are also treated to another lovingly affectionate portrait of New York City, this time during a heat wave; a 100° Son of Sam Summer.
Villains always more interesting than heroes, especially ones like Daredevil who are locked into rigid moral codes.   Frank Castle also has a code; he just has a more Old Testament approach to justice.  Jon Bernthal, who you know and love as Shane from The Walking Dead (I could write a whole post about Shane entitled Shane Was Right) plays the Punisher, and the first glimpse you get is of him storming through a hospital in army field jacket like the T-800.  Frank isn’t exactly a villain; both of them share the same frustration with the judicial system and due process.  It comes down to redemption vs. abandonment; Matt wants believes everyone deserves a second chance and Frank thinks society would be better off without the nameless thugs he dispatches.
And those are the only villains you get in Season Two, nameless, anonymous Yakuza or Irish gangsters or bikers, like a videogame.  There’s no one with the gravitas or force of intent of Vincent D’Onofrio, and his presence is missed.  And speaking of videogames, there’s a single-take stairway fight variation on the now classic The Raid: Redemption (2011)/Oldboy (2003) hallway fight scene.  It’s a convenient way to have the hero fight multiple foes one on one instead of them waiting patiently in a circle like they did with Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon (1973).
Electra, part-time ninja assassin and bored socialite is now re-imagined as Matt’s psycho ex-girlfriend from college.  Portrayed by √Člodie Yung, who you may remember as Miriam Wu in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), she’s a frustratingly perfect chaotic foil to Matt’s brooding and uptight lawyer personae.
The sub-plots with Foggy, thanklessly portrayed by Elden Henson and Karen unfortunately get lost  and overwhelmed because they’re not as glamorous or exciting as Daredevil vs Punisher.  They’re just hard working regular folks doing Internet research or locking horns with the District Attorney.  Additionally, Deborah Ann Woll’s a blonde now, which some might consider that an upgrade but redheads are a comic book tradition with the likes of Mary Jane Parker, Brenda Starr and Poison Ivy.  And besides, there are way too many blondes on TV.

The irony of Daredevil and shows like this in general is that Matt Murdock is a real-life hero, fighting for the rights of the downtrodden and neglected, working within the system, but that isn’t as interesting as fighting ninjas or biker gangs.  Superheroes have a clearly defined sense of justice; right or wrong, white hats and black hats.  That’s comforting to the audience.  And why do we even love masked vigilante and accept them as heroic archetypes as opposed to the historical or more traditional heroes like Hercules, or the Three Musketeers or even Superman?  The mask lends anonymity and plants the idea that you or I could be the hero.  Hercules was the son of a god; Superman is an alien, and the Three Musketeers?  Those guys are French…

my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.