Following last week’s release of The Defenders on Netflix, Make Mom Marvel is gonna take a brief Phase break and go back to cover some of the other Marvel Netflix series, since they technically count as part of the MCU depending on who you talk to. Now, if you’ve read my introduction post, we’ve only watched Daredevil and Iron Fist so far, which led to The Defenders. We’re in the process of getting through Jessica Jones, and perhaps Luke Cage will be on the horizon, but no guarantees on that.
Enough of me babbling, let’s get on with the show(s). First up, the Man Without Fear.
Charlie Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson
April 10, 2015 (Season 1), March 18, 2016 (Season 2)
Summary for Moms:
Blinded at a young age, Matthew Murdock (Charlie Cox), suffers further tragedy when his father, a Boxer, is murdered after refusing to take a dive. Years later, Matt establishes a fledgling, low-rent law practice with his best friend Franklin ‘Foggy’ Nelson (Elden Henson). Together, they take cases and fight for the little guy in the courtroom. However, unbeknownst to everyone, Matt’s blindness offers him extrasensory perception that enables him to fight crime outside the courtroom, using more brutal methods. Methods that bring him in contact with dangerous underground forces such as Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) and the Punisher (Jon Bernthal).
While Iron Fist was the series that got my mom into the MCU (again, there’s no accounting for taste), Daredevil continued it. It certainly helped matters that Matt Murdock is a lawyer, since she’s an avid fan of John Grisham and loves watching lawyers on TV and film. In fact, I bet she’s disappointed that I’m not a lawyer and am instead writing a Marvel Movie blog on the internet. Heck, I’m a little disappointed in me. But that’s neither here nor there.
Daredevil Season 1 is a masterfully crafted TV Series that approaches the superhero aspect of the character with just a light enough touch that it is more akin to a crime drama than a superhero show and that may be what was so appealing about it to my mother. Of course, there are some dark, gritty and overly violent scenes that may not be suitable for moms. I remember she audibly gasped when that thug decided to ram his head on a spike rather than face the wrath of Wilson Fisk. Unfortunately, I don’t quite remember her reaction to the scene where Fisk decapitates a guy with a car door. I think she might’ve stepped into the kitchen during that one. Probably better she not see that.
The ensemble cast has a great chemistry and plays well together. My mom enjoyed Matt, Foggy and Karen’s banter and relationships, although I’ve seen some people on the internet decrying Foggy and Karen’s perky-fun-fest. She liked seeing Claire again (after Iron Fist), and her appearance elicited cries of “Oh, she’s in this?!”
She especially liked Fisk as the villain, although she always referred to him only as “the fat man”, which is… well… fine. D’Onofrio puts in an amazing performance that imbues Fisk with a muted melancholy that strays from the usual comic book incarnation of the Kingpin, but the result is a character on par with Loki as one of the MCU’s great bad guys. At the end of the first season, she knew he’d be back. She was upset seeing Madame Gao again, because “she has her fingers in everything!”
Season 2 leaves a little of the crime drama feeling behind and ventures further into superhero territory with the introductions of Elektra and The Punisher. While a lot of these elements were handled well, overall, the second season feels a little too scattershot compared to the tightness of the first. Balancing the Punisher’s mystery killer with Elektra’s relationship with Matt as well as the “War for New York” between The Chaste and The Hand results in an overstuffed narrative or, as my mom said of the final battle scene, “there are too many ninjas in this fight”.
Where Season 2 does shine, though is Jon Bernthal’s Punisher. I was afraid my mom wouldn’t like him, because he’s never been the most likable Marvel Comics Character. Outwardly, he’s a madman with a gun who mows down anyone on the wrong side of the law. Definitely not as family friendly as Spidey or uh… Wolverine, I guess. But Bernthal takes the material he’s given and elevates it. I remember I teared up during his speech about his kids in the cemetery. Despite his ultraviolence, Bernthal manages to deliver a haunted, but surprisingly relatable, family man who’s been through unspeakable horrors and is only doing what he can to come through the other side. And my mom actually liked the character, even after he systematically takes out those hundred prisoners in the hall in one of the most visceral, bloody battles I’ve ever seen. The fact that my mom is interested in seeing The Punisher’s own show is a damned testament to his performance here.
Season 1 and 2 of Daredevil compose a mixed bag, but they’re still some of the greatest superhero television you and/or your mom can see on Netflix.
Mom Rating (Out of Five):
- Mom was absolutely taken aback when Fisk’s assistant Wesley gets shot in Season 1. She “didn’t think they’d actually do that.”
- As soon as Vondie Curtis-Hall’s Ben Urich got back into his apartment, she knew Fisk was gonna be there to kill him. Good thinking, mom.
- When they reveal that Fisk is the mastermind behind getting The Punisher into jail in Season 2, my mom said she “knew that it was the fat man the whole time.” She seems to really ‘get’ Fisk’s thinking.
- In Season 2, she had to be reminded several times that Nobu was “the guy who died in the fire”. Regardless, she laughed when Stick finally chopped his head off.
- She was convinced “the fat man” is going to come back in The Defenders, but I told her they’re probably going to save him for Daredevil Season 3. I’m guessing they’re going to do Frank Miller’s “Born Again” arc. From back when Frank Miller was still good.
- “Too many ninjas in this fight” is a phrase I’m going to try to work into everyday conversation.