Aaah, Daredevil, the devil in Hell’s Kitchen.

When Stan Lee and Bill Everett co-created Matt Murdock, I’m sure the duo took everything they knew about Satan and injected him with a crap load of irony. Thus, Daredevil was born; a Catholic, blind vigilante who struggles to spare the villains that enforce the namesake of Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan—a cyclical cauldron of chaotic feasting and suffering.

The imagery that the DD universe evokes is one straight out of good conventional storytelling, where expectations are demonized, inverted to illustrate the gray.

For the hardcore losers-slash-fans of the Netflix series such as I, you’ve probably already binged-watched the second season… and been exposed to the following promotional adverts.

Daredevil St Sebastian Daredevil Punisher Daredevil Karen Page

From TL to B: Daredevil advert/Peter Paul Rubens’ St. Sebastian (1614), Punisher advert/ Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath (c. 1610), Karen Page advert/ Caravaggio’s St. Jerome Writing (c. 1605-1606)

As you can see and as better dissected elsewhere, these adverts are straight out of some of the Baroque period’s most famous oeuvres. Characterized by the use of oil, the exposure to dark and religious themes, and a pregnancy of details, it seems that Baroque art is well-suited to the TV show’s voice.

SPOILER DISCLAIMER: YOU’LL NEED TO HAVE SEEN DAREDEVIL SEASON 2 IN ITS ENTIRETY TO PROCEED.

The imagery here is poignant and reveals A LOT in terms of what these characters will be doing and how they will be developed in the second season.

Matthew (Charlie Cox) remains a vigilante pariah due in part to his concealment of secrets, much in the same vein as St. Sebastian had been tied to a tree and shot with arrows for concealing his faith from the Roman army. Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) evolves from assistant to a rising journalist, devoting herself to the pursuit of truth, just as St. Jerome had devoted himself to the spread of God’s word via his Biblical translations. Newcomer Frank Castle/Punisher (Jon Bernthal) is depicted as David, triumphant over Daredevil-Goliath. No doubt this is a reflection of their ideological disconnect—one sends evildoers to prison to offer a second chance, the other sends them to the nether realm of finality with unadulterated contempt.

I’ve researched the Internet for about 2.2 minutes to see if anyone else has discovered from what artwork Foggy’s and Elektra’s posters are supposed to be derived.

Cuz, you know. Main characters, duh!

Then I got bored and decided to just make sense of them myself.

 

Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson)

Daredevil Foggy Daredevil Matthew inspiration

Keeping in tune with the Caravaggio theme, the first piece of art that comes to mind is The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (1602).

Except Foggy doesn’t really move on to be a devoted gospelist or anything similar. Which brings me to consider options from the Dutch Golden Age.

 

 

 

 

 

Girl with a Pearl Earring (Johannes Vermeer, 1665)

Step aside, ScarJo! Since the Dutch Golden Age was characterized by a degree of secularity, still life images, and landscapes, this banality reflects how Foggy may be perceived in relation to his hot, blind friend.

But that was so season 1.

 

 

Daredevil Foggy Daredevil The Art of Painting

The Art of Painting (Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665-68)

What, another woman? If Karen can be represented by a man, it stands to reason that Foggy can be represented by the reverse.

At first glance, the muse in the painting might seem similar to the woman with the jumbo pearl earrings. Armed with a book and trumpet, the muse is what drives the artist… an inspirer, a supporter, a poet whose weapon is her words. All these reflect who Foggy is to Matt Murdock.

Were we to reexamine Foggy’s promotional poster, however, we shall see that the negative space is almost empty compared to the muse’s surroundings. There is no artist to inspire nor to support; only a newspaper in the foreground that reads, “The Devil in Hell’s Kitchen.”

Season 2 Foggy Nelson comes to realize his internal worth, independent of whatever contributions Matt Murdock might have shared to define Foggy’s identity. The men do not end their friendship but they do drift apart. Foggy crafts his own story and to him, Matt eventually becomes an afterthought as old as the newspaper of yesterday.

 

Elektra Natchios (Élodie Yung)

Small wonder I couldn’t find any interpretations on Elektra’s character poster. It doesn’t seem as dynamic and full as your typical 16th-18th century painting. The best I can offer are those characterized under Spanish Baroque.

Daredevil Elektra Daredevil Immaculate Tiepolo Daredevil Immaculate Murillo Daredevil Immaculate de Ribera

These three paintings by Tiepolo (1767-1768), Murillo (1678), and de Ribera (1635) are all dubbed, (The) Immaculate Conception. Believe me, there are more under the same title but they all maintain recurring ideas and symbolism.

I know what you’re thinking. The parallel between Elektra and the Virgin Mary’s conception might seem really out of left field… but as pretentious over analyses might provide, the puzzle pieces are there waiting to be connected.

In all three Spanish paintings, Mary stands above the world, surrounded by babies beneath her and behind. She is the mother of man, free from original sin, and a figure of praise and adoration.

As we learn from the second season’s conclusion, Elektra is more than an assassin of the Chaste. She is, in fact, the true weapon of the Yamanote—The Hand Ninjas that have been since antiquity. Elektra is the Black Sky, the clan’s figure of praise and adoration.

But how are the dead gentlemen surrounding Elektra significant? Were they ordinary goons, they wouldn’t be. But as members of The Hand, they mirror the babies in the Conception as lifeless worshippers of their patron figure.

How am I sure they’re of The Hand? Asian, HELLO?!

While Mary is the giver of life and the mother of man, Elektra is the palm that links The Hand’s fingers, the sickle-bearing harbinger of death.

Daredevil Judith

Personally, I wish Elektra’s poster resembled the image on the left more …

Judith Slaying Holofernes (1598-1599)

I feel like this better encapsulates Elektra’s most memorable scenes. Not to mention, it is consistent with the Caravaggio schema.

Plus, let’s face it. If there’s anything really out of left field, it’s the Black Sky bit.

 

 

 

Going for Baroque

Okay, so I don’t claim to be an art historian bombarding you with readings that may not even make a lick of sense. But the motivation behind my analyses stems from a dissatisfaction with the advertising inconsistencies. Why have there been Baroqueian allusions to the characters of Daredevil, Punisher, and the ever-annoying Karen Page (not to mention, the references to Michelangelo on two other posters) and not Elektra or Foggy?

Moreover, there really is something to be said about Daredevil’s overall sensibility. The Christianity-based inverted imagery sets the show apart from its contemporaries, Marvel production or otherwise. I’m not religious by any means, but any experience that helps add depth to a show—that gives teasers to what might be expected of a particular character—helps the audience become more than just an audience.

They become participants.

And this effect is something, I feel, is worth going for broke.

Superhero fans everywhere rejoice. Daredevil: Season 2 has finally arrived and Batman VS Superman comes out at the end of this month. For now let’s take a look at the first six episodes of Daredevil:Season 2. There are a lot of new additions to Matt’s universe but are all of them good? Let’s dive in.

daredevil_season_2_poster_h_2015

The Pros:

Something that immediately hits you in this new season is it’s change of pace. Season 1 waited a decent amount of time for Daredevil and Kingpin to meet face to face. Not this time. Daredevil meets his antagonist in the first episode. It’s also nice to things already established in the world. Daredevil is Daredevil. He wears the suit and business is booming for Nelson & Murdock. Having these things in place are especially satisfying for the comic book fans out there because this opens the door for new and fresh stories with the characters they know and love.

Thankfully the creators of the show start season 2 on the right story thread. The Punisher. His inclusion into this world is a definite pro. Actor, Jon Bernthal plays him in a way that no actor has before, and believe me they’ve tried. Punisher becomes Daredevil’s new biggest problem. There is a war on the streets and Punisher is the man behind it. However, he’s not killing just anyone. Punisher has his sights set on disposing of the criminal element that dwells within Hell’s Kitchen. Vigilante justice on a whole new scale.

The question that quickly comes up is then if Daredevil’s appearance in Hell’s Kitchen led to men like the Punisher stepping in and taking the law into his own hands. It’s a interesting premise and one that certainly has merit, as Matt begins to find out for himself. Morality plays a major factor in this season, thus far. Is justice something that is so important one must take it into their own hands? Does the system work? And the most interesting question of all, is the preservation of life sacred no matter what? Is killing ever acceptable?

Episode 3 is a fantastic example of two schools of thought on the latter subject. It presents the argument in the form of a tense conversation. Both men are impassioned in their conviction and both make clear cases for what really is the ” right” way to do things.  Daredevil and Punisher duke it out more than once in this season but I felt it their war of words that had the most impact.

D vs P

Episode 3 also gave us some fantastic action scenes. Few can forget the single-shot hallway fight scene in season 1, but this season’s big fight sequence may have topped it. Longer and dare I say, more impressive.

Punisher Eventually comes off more as an anti hero around the episode 4 mark. The introduction of the Irish mob gives us our new antagonists, and thanks to it’s particularly sadistic Mob boss, it’s clear cut. These guys don’t mess around. ( SPOILER) This forces Daredevil and Punisher to briefly team up and I’ll admit , I had a minor nerdgasim for those moments.

Episodes 5 and 6 focus more on Elektra. Punisher is still in the mix but it’s Elektra’s turn to shine. In two episodes actress Élodie Yung, makes Jennifer Garner’s version look like the performance of a bad cosplayer. It’s amazing what a stark difference there is in quality. It astounds me even more that the makers of the Dardevil films could get her character so wrong. Nevertheless back to Élodie Yung and her version of Elerktra.

I thought that taking the focus away from Punisher might be a mistake but Elektra turns out to be a more than worthy character. Her history with Matt gives her an edge we don’t see with other characters, except for Stick( Daredevil’s mentor and teacher). She knows him mentally, physically and sexually. Or rather, she did. Their relationship is fascinating and I suspect it will be explored further in the coming episodes.

Another pro is Foggy. His character feels far more comfortable in his shoes. I liked him in season 1 but I feel he is much more balanced thus far.

All and all the cinematography is great and most of the performances are good while these three below are outstanding.  This season looks well on it’s way to be awesome.

daredevil-season-2-trailer-breakdown-pic

 

 

The Cons:

Not a lot to complain about really. Punisher had a few moments that I asked myself ” really”? One in particular is his ( SPOILER) not guilty plea. I don’t see any logical reason why he would do this. Once you get to it you’ll see what I mean.

The biggest con would have to be Karen Page. Simlair to season 1, her motives and reasoning are all over the place. I find this, and her to be quite annoying at times. One second she states she’s terrified of being target practice for a lunatic with a gun, the next second she wants to ” save” someone in the middle of a massive shootout.  She breaks into , said lunatic’s house looking for evidence?? She does all this alone, I might add. WHY? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Other than that, not much else to complain about.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of my review of Daredevil: Season 2!

 

At last I have completed watching the entire series. Part two of my review focuses on episodes 6 to 13. It was a wild ride that I hope to be on again. The question that really lingers in my head is will we get a second season right away or will Marvel focus on exploring Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and then do their Defenders series? These are just some of the  many questions that  arise after the action packed conclusion of Daredevil.

 

The next eight episodes really kept up with the pace of the first five. Perhaps, even a bit less brutal, but only a bit. The performances manged to stay strong and we had the chance to see more of a back story for characters like Wilson Fisk ( Who never gets mentioned as Kingpin). His back story was done very well and it showed how different & alike Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk really are. Both of these men had a strong father figure that directly affected the paths they choose. Of course, one was arguably much more negative than the other. We also get introduced to the character “Stick“. If you are unfamiliar with the comic, Stick served as Daredevil’s teacher and Sensei. We also learned that Stick is the one responsible for training Daredevil , not only to fight but how to control and harness his new abilities. There are some cool Easter eggs that leads me to believe we will be seeing the villainous group called ” The Hand” sooner rather than later.

The Pros:

Once again the performances are a key component that stands out to me. Wilson Fisk and Daredevil’s stories only get richer and more interesting thanks to the actors wonderful portrayals.Despite Wilson Fisk being ruthless criminal I couldn’t help but care about him. I even agreed with him in some ways. This is a testament to the thought that went in creating and portraying this character. I’m hearing a lot of flack regarding Foggy’s portrayal.A lot of people think his character is not played very well but it doesn’t grate me. Yes, he is the weakest link along with Karen Page, but it doesn’t ruin anything for me. A definite pro is the arrival and portrayal of Stick. Scott Glenn plays him almost perfectly. He certainly does justice to Frank Miller’s version. The episode he is in is a clear highlight after the first five. Without giving too much away, both he and Daredevil have a fight scene together that is equally as impressive as any on the series. At the end of Stick’s episode we get a hint of the bigger picture he keeps talking about and we get a view of a mystery character who is as of yet unidentified.

 

The fight scene’s continue to impress and the last episode is a gem of brawl. I won’t tell you who the participants are but it’s safe to assume it’s what the fans are waiting for. It’s important to point out the strength of the story as well. I have a few minor quibbles with it but I’ll get to that later. For the most part the story provides twists that are quite effective and it gives both the protagonist and the antagonist excellent arcs. The philosophical questions that the series put forward are more heady than the average superhero show and it feels very organic in its scheme. Obviously, I have to mention the elephant in the room. Daredevil’s red suit. It does appear and it’s very cool. It looks even better in action. We even get to see Daredevil’s trademark billy club.

 

The Cons:

I had a lot more time to reflect on this one. I’ll say that overall this is a great show but not one without it’s flaws.  One thing I noticed and that was actually, brought more to my attention by my girlfriend, was the lack of motivation for many of the supporting cast. Especially for Karen Page. She seems hellbent on tackling Wilson Fisk’s criminal organization despite the obvious dangers involved. The question is why? Why does she cares so much? She thinks and acts on these desires even to the detriment of others in her life. Foggy also has a similar problem but it’s more understandable for him because he is a lawyer. However you have to question his judgement when he sets out to go to war with Wilson Fisk knowing full well what kind of man he is. How can the consequences surprise him and Karen when they actually happened?  Another character who’s motivations I question is Claire. The medical practitioner responsible for patching up Daredevil. In my opinion she seems to be going along with Daredevil a little too easily. I think she has a motivation but it feels very flimsy to me.

These are all minor points that don’t take away from the season. I still maintain it”s the greatest live action superhero show of all time, even after only one season. Let the speculation about Daredevil’s next villain begin. I got to think Bullseye is next in line. How about you?

 

Theatrical poster for the live-action movie Da...
Theatrical poster for the live-action movie Daredevil starring Ben Affleck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On January 7th, Marvel and Netflix announced the release date for the latest live-action adaptation of the Daredevil franchise. Marvel’s Daredevil will make its entire 13-episode season available to stream on April 10th, much to the delight of compulsive bingers everywhere.

Fans of the visually impaired vigilante are looking forward to a series that is 12 years clear from the blast radius caused by the much maligned big screen adaptation. The internet’s hate-boner for Ben Affleck still rages on to this day because of the fictional events that transpired back in March of 2003. Still, if you were to weigh that collective nerd rage against the more measured response of film critics you’d objectively conclude that most people didn’t like Ben Affleck in Daredevil. Not an unfair statement, considering that even Ben Affleck didn’t like Ben Affleck in Daredevil.

Affleck animosity aside, the movie as a whole is considered a resounding flop. Yet all the components of a classic superhero movie seemed to be there; a hero born of tragedy, a menacing and well-rounded villain, plus a romantic subplot for whoever the hell cares about romantic subplots. What was it then, that made this movie so unlikeable? Here’s a hint: the exact same things that made this movie so fantastic. Daredevil may just be the greatest superhero movie that nobody liked. Here’s why:

The Tone is Dark, But Not Too Dark

Matt Murdock, for all his efforts advancing the rights of persons with disabilities, still doesn’t stack up against Marvel heavyweights like Spider-Man and the X-Men, both of whom happened to be successfully captivating moviegoers back in 2003. An acrobatic blind man, nimble as he may be, just doesn’t out-cool a dude with a metal-laced skeleton and knives for hands. So rather than punch above its weight class against established blockbuster franchises, Daredevil bobs and weaves in a different direction; it diverges from the flamboyance of contemporary superhero movies by ultimately choosing gritty over grandiose.

 

English: Ben Affleck at the premiere for He's ...
English: Ben Affleck at the premiere for He’s Just Not That Into You. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tone is dark, but not hopelessly so. The film paints a grim picture of a New York that it is overrun with murderers and rapists in order to validate Daredevil’s hard-line, surgery-by-subway approach to crime fighting. However, the gloom is tempered with just the right amount of gaiety so the movie doesn’t spiral into what can only be described as “Dark Knight territory.” Here, our protagonist is not so heartless that he’ll pass up an opportunity to engage in a good old fashioned game of full-contact flirting (or kung fu courting, I can’t decide which bad line I like better) with token love interest Elektra. It is perhaps because this movie walks a tightrope between cynicism and optimism without committing fully to either, that the audience was sold on neither.

 

Daredevil Isn’t Your Friendly Neighborhood Vigilante

So you’ve decided to become a vigilante? Great! Congratulations on taking in the law into your own hands. Wait, what’s that? You say you’re not actually going to execute those rapists and murderers? Oh, you’re going to just rough them up a little then pass them on to law enforcement? In that case, well done, you’ve entirely missed the point of becoming a vigilante. You can go ahead and return that costume. Maybe you can still get back your deposit.

As an aspiring vigilante, you really only have two choices: you either take matters into your own self-righteous hands, or you stay out of the way while the legal system does what it has been put in place to do. There’s no middle ground. A true vigilante believes the legal system doesn’t work, which is why they’ve appointed themselves to bring the lost causes of civilized society to justice.

Matt Murdock understands the dichotomy that exists between being a vigilante and being a law abiding citizen, and he is able to craft his alter-ego accordingly. By day he attempts to bring the legal system of New York back up to respectable standards, and by nightfall he hunts down the criminals who slip through the cracks. Reintroducing criminals back into a failed and/or corrupt system is baffling decision that a lot of comic book vigilantes make. Daredevil isn’t as forgiving at the Batmen and Spider-Men of the world, which might have cost him some popularity points with fans.

Daredevil Doesn’t Waste Time on the Learning Curve

Unlike the majority of cinematic superheroes, Daredevil has his shit together before the end of the first act. We see a few minutes of young Matt bumbling his way into toxic sonar vision, and from there we jump straight to an adult Matt who already has a strong grasp on the fundamentals of superheroing.

Being introduced to a superhero in his prime is a welcome change of pace from watching an emotionally troubled loner blundering through their early days of superherodom. Daredevil’s early days of crime fighting are glossed over, perhaps to the chagrin of the people who like a good old-fashioned origin story.

Kingpin is a More Grounded Villain

Wilson Fisk is a refreshing take on comic book villains, in that he isn’t inexplicably committed to mass genocide or establishing a trans-continental dictatorship. He is just a unethical businessman with simple ambitions: stay in business by influencing and/or murdering anyone who threatens the stability of his organization. In other words, he’s your typical oil company CEO, only with the physique of a steroid-riddled pro wrestler.

The Kingpin doesn’t pursue some otherworldly weapon that will grant him the power to destroy all who oppose him; his weapon is influence, and he is ruthless when yielding it. Though admittedly, an intangible quality is not as resplendent as, say, the Tesseract.

It Isn’t a Traditional Superhero Movie, Mostly

Daredevil is at its best when it doesn’t acquiesce to standard superhero movie tropes. For most of the movie, Daredevil’s take-no-prisoners approach to crime fighting is a welcome deviation from take-all-prisoners approach of most comic book heroes. The choice to kill off the main protagonist’s love interest is an undeniably ballsy move, and one that few superhero movies have tried.

When it does succumb to genre cliches, however, Daredevil falls flat. The kiss in the rain is clearly borrowing (if not blatantly stealing) Spider-Man’s iconic kiss from the previous year. Furthermore, when Daredevil spares the life of Kingpin, it feels like a copout and a thinly veined sequel setup.

Daredevil may have been a critical failure, but it needs to be stated that the movie introduced some relatively innovative ideas to the genre that are now becoming popular in superhero franchises. Perhaps the world of 2003 was simply ill-prepared for the awesomeness that Daredevil unleashed upon it.