|Written by Erin Maxwell|
Netflix and Marvel continue to expand and define the confines of the superhero universe with the second season of Daredevil. In round two, new moral conflicts arise, giving the red-suited vigilante a bit of a pause while providing audience a sneak peek to large issues on the horizon.
After the forced retirement of last year’s big bad Kingpin (brilliantly played with extraordinary depth by Vincent D’Onofrio) has been filled by bringing out two more heavy hitters from the Marvel Universe, Elektra and The Punisher.
Netflix is once again working its magic, setting right the wrongs of the cinematic universe that majorly mishandled these comic characters, leaving them flailing after several movie misfires.
This time around, Jon Bernthal takes the reigns of the tormented Frank Castle aka The Punisher, a one-man firing squad who, unlike Daredevil, has no lessons to teach and doesn’t strive to bring the bad guys to justice. He just wants to kill bad people and eradicate the scum of Hell’s Kitchen.
His actions open up an interesting morality issue that becomes a major conflict within the Marvel Universe: Should superheroes continue to work outside the law?
Can a hero continue to be effective if he or she has to follow the same guidelines and laws as everyone else?
Is vigilante justice still justice if the hero continues to work outside the law?
But before we get the opportunity to see the conflict explored in on of the most expensive movies ever made, we get a small dose of the what is to come in the Netflix series, whose budget doesn’t even cover the craft services of Civil War.
Played out as a two-hander, the question of “What Is Right vs. What is Just” brought to light in the first few episodes when Frank kidnaps Matt Murdock to prove a point about fighting for justice. Tormented by the pain of losing his family, Frank found solace in the work of Daredevil, but saw him a man who took too many measures. Why hand over a career criminal and killer to the cops, when you can just as easily make sure he will never kill again?
In his mind, the only difference between the two vigilantes is that Frank finishes the job.
“You are just one bad day away from being me.”
It’s a phrase comic fans have heard before, echoed loudly within the pages of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Batman: The Killing Joke. All it takes is one bad day, and any hero can become a villain in the blink of an eye.
It is a conflict that has been heavily explored throughout many comic storylines and characters, across both DC and Marvel pages. Both Superman and Spider-Man have learned the hard way that with great power comes great responsibility, while both Batman and Iron Man have explored their dark side due to past grievances.
The Punisher vs. Daredevil plotline in the series not only makes for compelling drama, but it sets up the central conflicts surrounding Civil War. Superheroes are now established, they are living in society, but no matter how good their intentions, they are people and people are prone to err.
The small street battles and pointed conversations between Matt and Frank introduces audiences to the moral issues surrounding day-to-day life with superheroes, a matter that will later get a multi-million dollar spotlight in the form of a tentpole.
The issue of superheroes working unchecked in order to preserve the law is a complicated issue that is explored to great success in the Civil War arc. It will be interesting to see how Captain America: Civil War” will adapt the game-changing storyline for the big screen. If it is anything as good as how Daredevil set the stage for upcoming battle, then we should be in for a treat.