For a good long while the prestigious mantle of Most Overdone Superhero Story was without a doubt the origin tale. Dead parents, ancient birthrights, Chosen Ones, freak laboratory accidents — after a while people caught on to the fact that all of these were basically following the same formula. We’ve seen Bruce Wayne witness the death of his parents upwards of seven different times. Time for something new! Take the third season of Jessica Jones, a show which gracefully skirted an origin tale in its first season only to backtrack into one for its sophomore outing. Surely the third season of the most unlikely Marvel/Netflix venture must break fresh ground, especially considering that this third season is also the last. Right?
To be fair, it’s more likely than not that Jessica Jones was never intended to conclude after Season 3, what with the collective axing of Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil, Iron Fist, Punisher and any future spinoffs Marvel/Netflix might have had in the oven. Despite the popular rumor that Disney might resurrect some of these properties for their Disney+ platform, that seems doubtful to me. And with the increasing tedium characteristic of each and every one of those shows, maybe that’s a good thing.
Continue reading Jessica Jones – Season 3
Boasting a “return to roots” formula meant to appeal to champions of the first season, Daredevil‘s third season premiered on Netflix this weekend in the wake of the cancellation of its peers Iron Fist and Luke Cage. Trailers revealed Matt Murdock back in his homemade origin-story duds, rather than the classic crimson armor. The villain is also back, Wilson Fisk returning to his old ways and prompting Murdock and Co. to take him down…twice and for all. The question was whether there would be enough newness to offset what frankly sounds like a remake of the first season, enough to actually move the series forward. It’s worth remembering that the Netflix/Marvel model is a business model, not a storytelling model, and while both could be said to have an “arc” it’s always been evident that the former has dictated the output strategy of both Netflix and Marvel Studios.
And the arc here is a fairly predictable one:
- Marvel and Netflix launch a new arm of the all-encompassing MCU, populated by more “realistic” street-level heroes.
- Praise follows, mostly for Jessica Jones and Daredevil, which has a second season that spawns a Punisher series of its own.
- Iron Fist premieres to negative reviews, the first show to break the streak. Probably just a fluke, though. Right?
- The Defenders happens in an attempt to mirror the team-up mentality that led the film series to Avengers: Infinity War. The main difference, of course, is that Defenders is one of the most arduously-conceived, inconsequential, straight-up boring television shows ever made.
- This seems to spook the larger Netflix/Marvel model, predicated on interconnectedness from the get-go, and each individual series begins to shy from too much overlap. Rosario Dawson’s Night Nurse, the only character to appear in each show, seemingly evaporates.
- The second seasons of Jones, Cage and Fist premiere, all to lowly-to-middling reviews that fail to generate much more of a reaction past “meh.”
- Cage and Fist get the axe and Daredevil‘s third outing arrives with the promise of a return to the Glory Days of Season One, back when it was the only one of its kind in existence.
Continue reading Daredevil – Season 3
For better or worse, the most apparent quality of the first season of Jessica Jones was how out-of-place it felt amongst the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity. If you’re accustomed to (or numbed by) Marvel’s breezy stories of superpowered do-gooders quipping their way to a city-leveling, CGI-fueled finale, then the first thing you notice about Jessica Jones has to be how unconcerned this superpowered character seems to be with doing any do-gooding at all. Maybe that’s the second thing you notice. First, you probably notice that the Jessica Jones theme song starts off as a pretty cool slinky-smooth avant-garde noir-jazz piece before veering off inexplicably to become a prog-rock dumpster fire. The thing’s an absolute mess. I happen to like both John Coltrane and Steve Vai, but not in the same span of two minutes.
Anyway, here’s a somewhat interesting quote from our review of the first season of Jessica Jones:
The latest entry in Marvel’s grand scheme has more inherent push/pull to the interconnectedness thing than any other installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that includes the Netflix predecessor Daredevil. On one hand Jessica is about as far away as you’re going to get from Captain America, and maybe that marks trouble for an inevitable crossing-of-paths — either the dark tone of Jones would be compromised to accommodate Cap or the other way around.
Continue reading Jessica Jones – Season 2
It’s incredibly tempting to write two completely separate reviews of the second season of Daredevil. The most superficial reason for this urge is simply because that’s more or less the way the season is divided: Part One, the first five or six episodes, focuses on the gun-toting, villain-slaughtering Punisher. Part Two focuses on Elektra, the long-ago flame and now-returned firestarter of Matt Murdock. Not long after the second season received the greenlight after a rollicking first season, these were the only two words you needed to mark your excitement: Punisher and Elektra.
The former was exciting mostly because the three preceding attempts to bring Punisher to life — the 1989 Dolph Lundgren version, the 2004 Thomas Jane version, and the pitiful 2008 movie War Zone with Ray Stevenson — all pretty much sucked. Marvel Studios hoovered up the rights to the character and soon announced that he’d appear in a supporting role in Daredevil, signifying an understandable hesitation to give the dude yet another full-length feature after three straight misfires. The latter inclusion was exciting because Elektra is an inextricable part of the Daredevil mythos, per Frank Miller’s incredible must-read run on the comics series in the early ’80s and, yeah, okay, fine, per Jennifer Garner in two movies. Basically this was a time for redemption for both characters, just as the Daredevil series itself is a redemption for the title character.
Continue reading Daredevil – Season 2
If anyone has shown a dedication to the long game in big-budget storytelling lately, it’s Marvel. The latest addition to the ever-expanding Cinematic Universe is the Netflix series Daredevil, chronicling the early days of lawyer Matt Murdock and his crimefighting alter-ego. In many ways Daredevil is the best thing to happen to the MCU in a long time. Not only is it far superior to Marvel’s other television ventures Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, but it often packs more of a punch — physically and emotionally — than the majority of the MCU films. The lack of cable television limitations or MPAA ratings means the show can be as dark as it needs to be. Most importantly, though, Daredevil shies away from the typical overblown grandiosity of many MCU ventures and opts instead for a very human drama.
It’s still a hero vs. villain thing we’re dealing with here, of course, but Daredevil is at its strongest when it plays away from that (striking the super– prefix from both hero and villain). Murdock gets his ass handed to him on a regular basis, Wilson Fisk is diabolical and yet relatable, and the street-level politics of the show are far more interesting than the end-of-the-universe Avengers stories. This is true of the comics, too, and as with live-action Daredevil it took a while to get the character right. There are a whole host of comic book influences for the Netflix series — primarily the Frank Miller tales The Man Without Fear and Born Again —which we’ll dive into now. Ye be warned: spoilers abound.
Continue reading Daredevil – Season 1