Netflix and Marvel continue to do it right

I recently wrote an article on the possibility that DC Comics should maybe continue to focus on making great TV shows since their movies seem to never really meet expectations. Marvel Comics has been the best in the superhero genre on the big screen and then with the release of Daredevil on Netflix last year, they showed that they could also make great series. And they just continued to show their dominance with the release of Jessica Jones and then season two of Daredevil

Jessica Jones was released last fall and, although not as good as Daredevil, it picked up speed as the season went on and made a fan of me. The series revolves around the title character, played by Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad, Don’t Trust the B_ _ _ _ _ in Apt. 23). Jones is a former superhero who decides to ditch that career to work as a private investigator. She takes various jobs, but her past still haunts her and leads to her having to battle those demons once again.

Ritter is great as the superhero / investigator with a foul mouth and drinking problem. In my opinion, she made the show as good as it was. She was joined by a cast of great characters as well that helped build up the show into an intriguing story that keeps you glued to see what happens next.

Rachael Taylor plays Trish Walker, Jones’ closest friend. Eva Darville plays Malcolm Ducasse, the strung-out neighbor with a bigger role at the end of the series. Carrie-Ann Moss plays Jeri Hogarth, an attorney with more problems than clients. Wil Traval is Will Simpson, a cop with a violent side that is an alley and an enemy at times. And David Tennant plays Kilgrave, the villain of the series. Tennant is menacing as Kilgrave, a man who can control people’s mind and make them do whatever he wants.

The backstory between Jones and Kilgrave is the central story of the series, but everyone else becomes entangled in their battle. Another character that gets pulled in is Luke Cage, played by Mike Colter. Cage becomes the love interest of Jones, but something in her past also prevents their love from continuing. Cage is also set for his own series to debut later this year. But his introduction, along with a great cast and story, helped to make Jessica Jones a must-see series.

But in between the first season of Jessica Jones and the debut of Luke Cage is the second season of Daredevil. After an amazing first season that saw Matt Murdock become the masked vigilante and take on Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, Daredevil returned to continue his fight to clean up Hell’s Kitchen. But he is not alone this time as the series introduces Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, and longtime Daredevil love interest / enemy Elektra Natchios.

Season two begins right where the first season ended. Murdock, along with partners Foggy Nelson and Karen Page, try to keep their law firm in business, while Murdock roams the streets at night and take the law in his own hands. But now, he has to battle a stranger known simply as Punisher. This new vigilante is gunning down all of the town’s gang members and creating war in the streets. Then, Murdock’s past girlfriend, Elektra, shows up as well and gets Daredevil, against his will, to help her battle a mysterious gang. But, in the end, Daredevil may have to put differences aside and join forces to take down an enemy that threatens to destroy the entire city.

Charlie Cox returns as Murdock / Daredevil and continues to make the character the one that I loved in the comic books. Cox is fantastic in the role and deserves to be given his own movie in the future. Also returning is Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll as Foggy Nelson and Karen Page, respectively. Nelson is great as the partner of Murdock that just wants him to focus more on the law firm and would rather see him give up being Daredevil. The character of Karen Page grows a lot in season two and is an integral part of much of the story. Vincent D’Onofrio briefly returns as Wilson Fisk as well.

But the highlights of season two are some of the new cast members. Frank Castle / Punisher is played by Jon Bernthal (Sicaro, The Wolf of Wall Street). Bernthal shines as Punisher, a ruthless killer looking for revenge for the deaths of his wife and children. He is amazing in this role and, like Cox, I would love to see Bernthal get a full-length movie as the Punisher. Elektra Natchios is another new character and is portrayed by Elodie Yung (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Yung gives the character of Elektra the perfect mixture of sexiness, dangerousness, and mystery that the character needs. I can’t say enough about how great these casting choices were and how much the actors nailed the characters.

After the last episode of Daredevil finished, a teaser trailer for Luke Cage ran and got me excited to see what they do with the invincible superhero we met in Jessica Jones. And following Luke Cage, they have series scheduled for Iron Fist and The Defenders, a group series with all the characters involved. And I am sure that with the success of Dardevil and Jessica Jones that we haven’t seen the last of them either.

No matter what though, Netflix and Marvel have now built a damn good empire with these series to complement their movies. It is amazing how good of a job Marvel has done. Because of these series, the movies Daredevil, Elektra, and The Punisher look like a joke now. And those featured great actors like Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, and Thomas Jane! But the actors and crew responsible for these series have breathed new life into these characters and made them great again. And, with more to come, Marvel is on the way to making a great companion to the cinematic universe. A companion that is darker and grittier than the movies and is definitely not for younger viewers, but great for adult fans who want to see great action, drama, and storytelling.

Daryl Karpinski, Jr.