Marvel’s Jessica Jones was a big hit for Netflix, with the story of Krysten Ritter’s damaged super-strong detective haunted by her enslavement to a mind-controller (David Tennant) winning critical acclaim around the world.
It was a game-changing series, finally bringing a credible female superhero into the mainstream while telling a timely story of abuse and emotional damage, and its success was great to see. But among all the hype, almost forgotten was the Netflix superhero series that preceded it and gained great popularity itself – the somewhat less zeitgeisty Daredevil, which comes back to the streaming service on the 18th March with a lot to prove after JJ’s success.
Having watched some of this second season it’s great to have Daredevil back, and based on what I’ve seen so far it seems to be a solid return for one of the best superhero adaptations to date. The first episode sees a new status quo firmly established, with Charlie Cox’s blind hero Matt Murdock costumed and patrolling the streets helped by confidante and law partner Foggy (Elden Henson) while secretary Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) remains in the dark.
Unfortunately their newfound idyll doesn’t last for long, with murderous vigilante The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) taking out mobsters from the shadows and building up to a fantastic confrontation with Daredevil (that we won’t spoil) later on. In other words, it’s business as usual – Daredevil taking on organised crime and other martial arts experts while also plying his trade as a lawyer, helping the dispossessed and hanging around on rooftops in the shadows.
But in the post-Jessica Jones superhero world, will that be enough?
Jessica Jones was something special, a superhero show that drew in the sort of people who wouldn’t go near traditional comics with a bargepole, and I can’t help but worry that Daredevil’s battle against gun-toting villains is going to look less appealing by comparison.
I actually prefer Daredevil (the action is a lot better and I’m a sucker for a traditional superhero narrative), but even I can see that it’s lacking in some of JJ’s emotional depth and real-life parallels. Daredevil’s obstacles and complex battle against organised crime can be found in any decent crime thriller – but Jessica’s troubles seem uniquely hers.
Of course, this could all be a moot point. Just because two TV series both feature superheroes doesn’t mean they have to follow the same beats (police procedural Castle is rather different to police procedural Happy Valley, as a comparison), and like myself there are plenty of fans who enjoy something different about both shows.
But I also think that Jessica Jones rewrote the rulebook when it came to superheroes on TV – and if Daredevil wants to keep up, it might have to open its eyes to that.
Daredevil season 2 will stream on Netflix from the 18th March