With an internal title like “Daredevil vs Punisher,” Netflix’ Daredevil seems to be setting up a big conflict in season 2. Are the two characters as much at odds as it seems, though?
When it was revealed that the showrunners for season 2 of Daredevil were informally calling season 2 “Daredevil vs Punisher,” fans (appropriately) went crazy. A full season of a Daredevil vs Punisher Netflix free-for-all would be amazing to watch, seeing the two heroes (or antiheroes, depending on your point of view) on opposite sides of a moral line square off on whether it’s acceptable to kill bad guys while kinda, sorta trying to accomplish the same thing. It might even make for a nice thematic setup for Captain America: Civil War.
That may not be what we get, though…or at least not entirely.
As much fun as a Daredevil vs Punisher Netflix romp would be, the first seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones have shown us that Marvel’s Netflix properties have a lot more going on behind the scenes than standard superhero fare. Spread out across an entire season worth of shows, the creators can tell bigger stories with a lot more complexity to them than anything in Marvel’s movies. Both Daredevil and Jessica Jones were plot heavy, but they weren’t weighed down by it. They had the time to spend unpacking deep-seated character motivations and chasing multiple plot threads.
Why would we expect season 2 to be any different?
Enter the Punisher
The Punisher and Moon Knight top most lists of characters that fans would love to see get their own Netflix show, at least in part because the darker and harder corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (that Netflix has, so far, filled) would give the characters a lot more wiggle room to do what they do best. The plan seemed clear: introduce the Punisher as the bad guy on Daredevil, have the big Daredevil vs Punisher Netflix fight that everybody wants to see, and then spin off a Punisher series after Defenders. And it very well might work out that way.
But probably not.
The problem with this theory is that it assumes that the Punisher is going to be the “big bad” of the season, like Kilgrave was in Jessica Jones or Fisk in Daredevil season 1. Make no mistake, there will certainly be the big, violent Daredevil vs Punisher Netflix-style brawl that everyone wants. There’s no reason to believe that it’s going to play out like Daredevil’s fights in season 1, though. Punisher isn’t the bad guy that Daredevil is trying to take down. Even if Daredevil thinks he is.
The Daredevil vs Punisher Fight
Based on the images released by Entertainment Weekly and things we’ve heard from events where footage has been screened, we can expect Daredevil and the Punisher to square off multiple times during the season. There will almost certainly be one fight between the two that is considered the definitive Daredevil vs Punisher Netflix fight (similar to the hallway fight in season 1 that quickly became the season’s most iconic scene). It’s probably not going to be at the very end of the season, though.
When it comes down to it, Daredevil and the Punisher are very similar heroes. The main difference between the two is their stance on killing. Both are violent vigilantes who want to take the battle to the criminals of the world; Daredevil wants to bring them to justice, while the Punisher wants to punish them for their crimes (proving once again he’s aptly named). Given the comments that have been made about moral issues being covered in this season, we’ll likely even find Daredevil seeing more of himself in the Punisher than he’s comfortable with as the season goes on.
If the two are so similar, it doesn’t make sense that the Punisher would be the big bad guy of the season. There’s a growing amount of evidence that the big bad is someone else, and it starts with who else is featured in the new season.
Even though season 2 has been referenced as being all about Daredevil vs Punisher, Netflix is bringing Elektra into the mix as well. While she’s perhaps most famous for being Daredevil’s true counterpart and equal, it’s important to remember that the character is a trained assassin. As in kill-you-dead-because-it’s-my-job. If she’s coming onto the scene, she’s probably either been hired to take out Daredevil or she’s been hired to take out someone that Daredevil is protecting.
If Elektra’s been hired, that means that there’s someone in the background pulling the strings. It’s not the Punisher. Hiring someone else to make a kill just isn’t his style. There’s a good chance that whoever it is behind the scenes is also the one who the Punisher is after. He’s obviously a criminal, and if he brought Elektra in then he’s got power and money. Elektra doesn’t come cheap, after all. Could this mystery figure be the season’s big bad?
Who could it be?
One possible clue regarding the big bad’s identity comes from one of the pictures released by Entertainment Weekly. The pic (see 3 above), likely taking place after a big Daredevil vs Punisher fight, shows Frank Castle standing over Daredevil on a roof while the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen is chained to a chimney. This scene is remarkably similar to the aftermath of a fight between the two characters that played out in the comics. If that comic is really what’s being referenced, then season 2 of Daredevil is going to show our hero really struggling with the line between right and wrong.
In the comics, the Punisher beat Daredevil in a rooftop battle and chained him up. The only difference between that comic scene and what’s been shown in the EW pics is that he tapes a loaded gun to Daredevil’s hand as well. The Punisher had a target, and made it very clear that he intended to kill that target…and only Daredevil could stop him. That moment was his only chance to stop him.
His target was Dino Gnucci, brother of Punisher villain Ma Gnucci and a part of the Gnucci crime family. Ma Gnucci hired assassins to take out the Punisher after he killed her three sons. She’s even the one who sent The Russian after the Punisher while he was injured, a scene that was used in The Punisher movie starring Thomas Jane. Easy enough to see how Ma Gnucci, or someone with similar motivation, might instead hire Elektra in the show’s version of the same events.
Daredevil vs Punisher vs The Mob
There’s every reason to believe that the big bad of Daredevil season 2 is Ma Gnucci or someone like her. The Punisher makes sense for a storyline in which she’s the main villain, Elektra makes sense as an assassin she would hire to take out the Punisher and her prominence could easily be explained by Daredevil taking out the Kingpin in season one. It would make for some good storytelling, too, and would set up the epic Daredevil vs Punisher Netflix brawl we all want while still giving the Punisher plenty of mobsters to kill.