Nerd Culture

What Daredevil Season Two Means for the Future of Marvel and Netflix

The second season of Netflix’s flagship superhero drama arrived to mixed reception from critics (“It wasn’t as good as the first season!”) and high praise from fans (“Holy crap bro, that stairwell scene!”), which is par for the course with this superhero stuff. Our own Alan Scherstuhl found it to be an improvement over the first season, saying "the show offers a surprisingly engaged take on the institutions on the brink in the real New York and in all American cities."

Daredevil is sure to be seen in another season as well as the upcoming team-up series, The Defenders. It’s been about a month since the latest season premiered — just enough time to break down its finer points.

This season provided plenty of fan service to comic book diehards with obvious nods like Matt Murdock’s infamous billy club, the cult of undying ninja, and the rooftop scene lifted straight from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s infamous Punisher run.

The nature of the binge-watch formula might allow a few of minor plots and easter eggs to slip past less eagle-eyed viewers. We’ve pored over the newest adventures in Hell’s Kitchen and compiled a list of predictions, requests, and observations to keep in mind when you’re talking to your friends about next season.

Disney Presents The Punisher’s Violent, Bloody, No-Good, Very Deadly Day
This one is definitely low hanging fruit, but add this voice to the chorus singing Jon Bernthal’s praise and hoping for a Punisher spin-off. While he’s been slightly one-note in his last few roles, Bernthal’s sadistic intensity and endearing charm make a perfect blend to depict Frank Castle.

While Punisher’s origin isn’t exactly a mystery, threads of his past slowly unraveled to reveal a man unhinged by tragedy and possessed with rage. At first portrayed as a force of nature, the latest season provided just enough closure for Castle while pushing him to the next chapter of his story.

A newfound arsenal and a can of spray paint put the Punisher in familiar territory for fans casual and die-hard alike, and it’s almost too big of a tease if he doesn’t get his own series at this point. While it’s fun to see Castle and Murdock go toe-to-toe in and out of costume, letting Punisher establish his own place in the world could be beneficial for Netflix’s superhero dominance.

Let the CW keep the DC tween demographic, and let Netflix be the place for people curious to see what mobster innards look like.

That Old Lady and Her Magic Kung Fu
It remains to be seen what direction the still-in-pre-production Iron Fist will take, the last series of Marvel’s initial Netflix arrangement, but this plot thread would only be obvious to fans of the underrated 2007 comic Immortal Iron Fist by David Aja, Matt Fraction, and Ed Brubaker.

In season 1, Madame Gao’s street drug is identified by its logo: a symbol of a serpent with its tail curled up, similar to a question mark. This logo is the same logo of Immortal Iron Fist villain Davos, the Steel Serpent. An expert in kung fu and rival of Iron Fist, Davos’ gets mystical upgrades to his powerset from his master, the Crane Mother.

So, is Madame Gao — played by Wai Ching Ho — the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version Crane Mother? It’s impossible to say at this point but all signs point to yes, and at the close of this season Gao hints that Daredevil might have his priorities mixed up.

Marvel just announced the casting of Finn Jones and Jessica Henwick. Could Gao be hinting at a conflict to be seen in the upcoming Iron Fist series? Maybe some clues might leak as the show gears up for production this year.

Foggy Nelson Gets to Annoy Fans of Two Different Shows
Carrie-Anne Moss’ ruthless turn as Jeri Hogarth was one of the best parts of the entertaining Jessica Jones series. Hogarth shows up at the end to bring these two worlds a little closer together when she offers Foggy Nelson a job.

Foggy’s on-again, off-again flame Marci Stahl has been working for the offices of Hogarth, Chao and Benowitz since the events of season one, giving him a foot in the door to become a partner after turning heads with the Punisher trial.

Will we see Elden Henson’s Foggy give a surly Jessica Jones legal advice? Or maybe she might crash one of his lunch meetings and ruffle his feathers? More likely, her and Murdock will bump uglies on a high-rise balcony and then shower themselves in cheap gin while Foggy calls their phones, only to reach voicemails at full capacity. The possibilities are endless!

There is Only One Cop in the City
Another sharp observation you might of missed, but one that could possibly explain the need for so many vigilantes in Hell’s Kitchen: Foggy and Murdock’s pal Brett Mahoney is the only cop in the city worth a damn.

He could be the true champion of New York. He’s responding to calls of potential gunshots, handcuffing unconscious serial killers, escorting John Does to secret hospital wings, and he even makes an appearance in Jessica Jones when he’s nice enough to take a severed head off of her hands.

Most cops in the Netflix shows stand around doing jack shit. Mahoney puts the city on his back. So next time you notice him and think “JFC it’s the same cop every damn time,” remember that most of New York’s “finest” couldn’t be bothered about the safety of the city. Thank the Watcher for Brett Mahoney.

Evil Corporations and Secret Cults
The season one hints of the Yakuza’s larger aspirations and dealings with an unseen faction came to fruition in the back half of season two when the Hand revealed their, er, um, well, hand.

The evil gang of zombie ninja conspired to capture the ‘Black Sky’ in a nonsensical plotline that feinted the Hand’s attempt to take over the city—in truth they really wanted Daredevil’s college girlfriend, the capable assassin Elektra played by Élodie Yung. What Elektra would empower them to do, or why they even wanted her, didn’t make a ton of sense—the plot intimated that with Elektra by their side, they’d be invincible.It all goes without explanation but WHO GIVES A SHIT!? These people dress in costumes and fight bad guys! Does it NEED to make sense?

The Hand’s rise is precipitated with a collaboration with the energy conglomerate called the Roxxon Corporation, an organization first hinted at in the first season of Agent Carter. In the comics, Roxxon is a shady company that has proven difficult to defeat due to its corporate status and has most recently plagued the new Thor, Goddess of Thunder.

Both the Hand and Roxxon featuring so prominently shows that Marvel might be ready to come out from the shadow of Hydra and allow some of the other evil factions some time in the limelight. While we’ve seen hints of AIM, the 10 Rings, and Zodiac, none have yet to feature as prominently as Hydra.

The Kingpin Reigns
Vincent D’Onofrio’s return was a genuine surprise as there wasn’t promotional material or an announcement that he would appear beforehand. But when the Punisher loses his trial and gets sent to the same cell block as the infamous Kingpin, Wilson Fisk’s impact on the series remained throughout the final episodes.

The show portrayed how Fisk creates opportunity for himself, even in the most dire circumstances, and moves his story to a place where he remains a threat to both Daredevil and Murdock. Through manipulation of the Punisher, Fisk christens himself the Kingpin of the prison and secures another seat of power safely behind the walls of the prison they’ve trapped him in.

The confrontation between Murdock and Fisk at the prison after Murdock learns of the Punisher’s escape escalates the stakes between the two enemies. Fisk might even be on the trail of discovering Daredevil’s true identity. Just by embracing the changes and playing events to his benefit, Kingpin has again become an adversary for Daredevil.

Expect a vicious campaign to regain influence when Kingpin releases himself from prison, causing the fight between Daredevil and Fisk to engulf the whole city.
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Joseph Schmidt
Contact: Joseph Schmidt