Daredevil Season 2: Hold onto your principles — at any price

Daredevil

The second season of Marvel’s Daredevil is finally on Netflix — and it is good. Correction: It is great. The writing is so strong, in fact, that it is hard to fathom how the creative team will be able to live up to expectations going forward. It is rare to find a show that is about friendship, family, honesty and the importance of holding fast to core principles, but Daredevil delivers on all counts.

Frank Castle

This is a spoiler-free review, so I will try to only address the overall themes going forward.

In short, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung), Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and pretty much every actor with decent screen time fires on all cylinders. What makes the series so good is that each character has a clear idea of his or her ideal self, but the fierce pursuit of those ideals put them at odds with friends, family, co-workers, fellow citizens, and even the rule of law.

Matt Murdock

What would you do for your core principles?

  • Would you be willing to quit a job?
  • Would you walk away from someone you love?
  • Would you be willing to shed blood and die?
  • Would you kill?
  • Would you be willing to be hated by society?

Over and over again the writers of Daredevil look at the cast and say, “Okay, what defines these characters and how do we put them in situations where their fidelity to core principles is tested?” 

The series explores big questions about life, death, truth, justice, loyalty, honesty, integrity, redemption and friendship in every episode — but it does so with intelligence and grace.

Finally, without a doubt, Jon Bernthal nails his performance as Frank Castle (aka: The Punisher). He was given a tough role, and he crushed it. There are not really enough good things to say about his take on the character other than to tell the man to take a bow. One can only hope he makes an appearance in Luke Cage.

If you do not have a Netflix account, then you may want to consider getting one to watch Daredevil. At this point the only question is: When will Charlie Cox’s version of Matt Murdoch make an appearance on the big screen? He certainly deserves it.

 

 

Daredevil Season 2 trailer: Good men grapple with rotten culture

Daredevil

The second season of Dardevil is one month away, so Netflix and Marvel treated fans to a trailer on Monday. Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) will now go up against Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), and the result looks incredibly promising.

In one corner we have the vigilante who clings to the hope that his actions are needed for criminal outliers — evil the justice system is ill-equipped to handle.

In the other corner we have The Punisher, who wages a total war on crime because he has lost all hope in its sanctioned officers and foot soldiers. The battle came to his front doorstep and took those closest to him.

The philosophical difference is displayed during a rooftop confrontation:

Daredevil: “People don’t have to die!”

Punisher: “You hit them and they get back up. I hit them and they stay down!”

“The Daredevil Dilemma” is what one would expect from the cultural breakdown I talked about just days ago: “America, like ant infected with phorid fly, faces decapitation.”

I will once again cite Saint Augustine’s “City of God”:

“If the prince is unjust, or a tyrant (to use the Greek word), or if the aristocrats are unjust (in which case their group  is merely a faction), or if the people themselves are unjust (and must be called, for lack of a better word, a tyrant also), then the commonwealth is not merely bad … but is no commonwealth at all. The reason for that is that there is no longer the welfare of the people, once a tyrant or a faction seizes it; nor would the people, if unjust, be any longer a people, because they would not then be regarded as a multitude bound together by a common recognition of rights, and a mutual cooperation for the common good, as the standard definition of a people demands.

When, therefore, the Roman republic was such as Sallust describes it, it was not only ‘very wicked and corrupt’ — ‘a sink of iniquity,’ as he puts it — it was no republic at all, if measured by the criterion established by its ablest representatives when they met to debate the nature of the republic.” — Saint Augustine, City of God.

Punisher

What do good men do in a city that has been infected with cultural rotgut? The politicians are corrupt. Media are corrupt. The justice system and law enforcement are corrupt — and it’s all because the underlying culture is diseased.

Matt Murdock and Frank Castle are two good men who are fighting the tide towards Gomorrah. No matter how many bad guys Daredevil beats up, the evil within remains unharmed. No matter how many bad men Frank Castle kills, there are always new recruits ready to take their place.

The problems facing Hell’s Kitchen are bigger than both men because it is a collective spiritual bankruptcy that needs to be addressed. No predetermined body count of drug dealers or funding for bigger prisons will solve the problem. On some level both men know this, which is probably why they essentially go out on suicide missions every night: They have determined that it is better to die an honorable death fighting evil — literally coming to blows with bad men — then to succumb to a sense of powerlessness as the cancer metastasizes throughout the culture.

Daredevil: Season 2 looks like it will be another winner for Marvel and Netflix. I look forward to reviewing it shortly after its March 18 release.

Thomas Jane’s ‘Dirty Laundry’ provides the dirty truth

The Punisher is back in Thomas Jane’s ‘Dirty Laundry.’ While the short film is dark and ultra-violent, it successfully shoots holes in the peace-love-dope mentality that being really, really nice to evil men will bring them around to your point of view.

There was no reason why Thomas Jane, of 2004’s The Punisher, should reprise the role. Some would argue that the stink left behind by John Travolta’s Howard Saint is still just as strong today as it was back then, and that perhaps a full decade was needed before the endeavor should have even been considered. Regardless, Jane ponied up his own cash to produce Dirty Laundry, a ten minute fan film dedicated to Frank Castle. I’m glad he did.

I’ve never really liked the Punisher. He’s a vigilante, but his thirst for blood always turned me off. There’s a difference between a vigilante who extinguishes evil because he must, and one who also happens to get a weird thrill out of it. Instead of methodically meting out justice, Castle often gets creatively brutal with criminals, to the point where the line between him and the sickos he snuffs out is almost indistinguishable. He also seems dish out executions in ways that suggest that none of his victims are capable of redemption — a sad and bleak view of humanity that actually ends up making the case for earth as a morally-relativistic hellhole.

Regardless, the thing I love about the Punisher is that the world he inhabits forces even the staunchest pacifist to pause and think for a minute. Walk into the Punisher’s realm and there is good, and there is evil. In Dirty Laundry, the villains do unspeakable things to women and children. Viewers must ask themselves, “What would I do if I was in Frank’s shoes?” What would you do if the cops were needed in seconds, but they might be there in minutes, hours or … not at all? Would you put your own life on the line for a complete stranger, or would you turn a blind eye to the sick and twisted deeds of those around you if it gave a false sense of security?

The thing that is most honorable about Frank Castle is that he confronts evil head on, knowing full well that he might die. Without a doubt he is scared and afraid, and yet he charges forward, confident in his convictions. Unlike the superhero with a bulletproof chest, the Punisher could very easily take a shot to the head that would end his crusade instantly. He exists because in this world we have people who all too often make excuses for pure evil, give it “three strikes” or four strikes or more, far after they’ve shown they are incapable of abiding by the rules of civilized society.

And so, we hate Frank but we love him. He represents the frustration we have with a judicial system that nowadays lets rapists and murderers and animals who prey on children off the hook.

I wish the Punisher didn’t have to exist as a character, but he does. And I’m glad that Thomas Jane is the guy who plays him in Dirty Laundry.

Warning: Graphic Content