By staff-writers - February 4, 2016

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The New Residents of Hell’s Kitchen

The second season of Marvel’s Daredevil ultimately revolves around a riveting and topical central question: when does right become wrong? The show continues to explore the philosophical conflict at the core of Matt’s double lives, now complicated by a vigilante rival who takes things too far.

Of course that vigilante rival takes the form of the highly anticipated Frank Castle. Murdock and Castle have their own very different brands of vigilante justice, both of which are at odds with institutional processes. It is Frank’s extremism which prompts Matt to take action, even though they are both technically outside of the law. Cox reflects, “Matt is a devout Catholic. And what he’s doing, engaging in vigilante activity, engaging in violence, and hopefully bringing bad guys to justice, in many ways conflicts with his religious upbringing.” At the end of the first season, Matt had managed to reconcile what he was doing as being part of God’s will. With the arrival of Frank Castle, his ideals are now back in question. “Matt / Daredevil is suddenly not quite able to keep the city under control in the way that he has wanted to, and in recent times has been able to.” Matt suddenly has to question where he is willing to draw the line and to face the possibility that “this is a Matt Murdock who’s one bad day away from being Frank Castle,” says Cox.

Deborah Ann Woll found the morality questions of this season incredibly compelling, “Not everyone’s going to have the same moral code that Matt Murdock has or that Daredevil has. And then that can be a dangerous thing.”

Loeb adds, “Each of these characters in their own way, believes that they are right in the way that justice is served and that puts Matt in a very precarious place in terms of whether or not he should continue to be Daredevil. That felt like a very rich story area that we wanted to explore.”

When it came to the daunting task of casting the season’s pivotal new characters, Ramirez remembers, “We knew we wanted actors who could play these iconic characters, but most importantly, we needed the right ACTORS. We obviously wanted audiences to feel like they recognized the characters they loved from the comics – but we also wanted the audience to start loving those characters in new ways.”

For Charlie Cox, the casting of Frank Castle was reinvigorating, “I just love Jon. I think he’s brilliant and I can’t imagine anyone else who could bring this character into this show. He’s got such a life force on the screen, he’s so present, and in certain roles, he’s got that craziness behind the eyes, but totally believable. I remember thinking, that’s a great choice.”

Loeb found that the greatest challenge when telling the Frank Castle story was how not to make it feel like the story that everyone knows, “which is a man who feels he’s been wronged, then goes out and shoots people”, Loeb says. “That’s a rather violent response in this world and certainly something that people can understand, but as has been the case with all of the Marvel characters on Netflix, the challenge has been to try to give them layers. The even bigger challenge with Frank Castle is that for many people, he’s a hero, so you really need to understand the kind of emotional pain that he’s going through that would enable him to react the way that he is. No one is saying that what he is doing is right, but if you can start to understand it, you’re both very attracted and at the same time repulsed by what’s going on and that puts you in the same role as Matt Murdock. So from a character point of view, and what Doug and Marco and the writing staff has done extraordinarily well, is to give us a Frank Castle that we’ve never seen before. Someone who you care about enormously, but at the same time are terribly frightened by.”

Bernthal couldn’t wait to tackle this character and felt a great deal of responsibility to get it right. “I feel like this character’s so important to so many people and not just the comic book fans. I respect the fans and I want to do right by the fans, but I also have dear friends in the military and in law enforcement. I have the utmost respect for them and the sacrifice that they make with their lives. I’ve been told countless times by many members of law enforcement and the military how important this character is, how important that symbol is and what it stands for and its own special brand of justice which I completely respect.”

Castle is depicted in the series as a complicated, three-dimensional man and one that audiences will likely feel conflicted as to whether to love or hate. The show explores how the traumas Castle has experienced have shaped his philosophy. Bernthal had to put himself in a place where he could comprehend the emptiness inside a man who has this unbelievable amount of loss, shame and guilt after suffering such a profound trauma. When production started, Bernthal spent many nights taking long walks alone across the Brooklyn Bridge and tried to tap into a joyless existence.

Bernthal recalls, “You have to believe in it with every fiber you have and go for something as a character. For this character, what I found most interesting is this point of conflict where I think he absolutely at one point in his life had a real sort of sense of right and wrong and that’s completely unimportant to him now.”

The equally anticipated addition to the cast for the second season was Elodie Yung as Elektra Natchios, a mysterious woman from Matt Murdock’s past. The casting of Elektra was one of the most challenging aspects of the new season. Loeb remembers, “We looked at women from all around the globe. The first thing that we looked at in the original incarnation in the comics, was that Elektra came from a different world: she had money, she had elegance, she had a kind of aristocratic lifestyle and we needed someone who could bring that to it. With Elodie’s background, from the moment that you meet her, you have a sense of class that is just imbued in who she is as a person and some of that may be her French Cambodian background and some of it may just be that she is that way. The fact that she also is a black belt in martial arts and loves to be in this world was a gift, because Elektra always had to be able to move with a certain kind of danger, so on the one hand, she had to know everything about champagne and caviar and on the other hand, she had to know how to kill a man.”

On Elektra’s relationship with Matt, Ramirez explains, “Matt and Elektra are so much more than ex-lovers. Their connection runs dark and deep. She’s his Tyler Durden. People throw the word “temptation” around, but what’s amazing about their relationship is that she doesn’t really “tempt” him — instead she draws a darkness out of Matt that’s already there. She knows all his secrets, even the ones he hasn’t told her yet.”

Charlie Cox thinks viewers will be able to relate. “We’ve all had that emotional roller coaster, and been in a relationship or maybe been that person in the relationship, where it’s just mayhem. It’s just love, hate, love, hate,” he says.

For French actress Elodie Yung, more than anything else, she simply didn’t want to leave the audience dissatisfied. “I love this character,” she says, “so I really hope that the fans will like and accept her too. You want to do a good job, not only for yourself, but you want to do well because you know that there’s a fan base there. You don’t want to disappoint them.” Elden Henson thinks that’s unlikely. “Elodie is amazing. She’s really talented and she’s gorgeous. I think the fans are going to be stoked.”

“Matt’s mind and heart are questioned relentlessly, and not just by any random goons, but by the two of the strongest forces in Marvel comics,” Ramirez says. “And even beyond that, this season Matt has to fight his way out of the darkest corners he’s ever gotten himself into. We love that. Who wants to see Rocky go up against rookies? We wanted to see him in the ring with the best opponents in the world – sometimes all at once.”

Loeb reflects on the second season as an opportunity to “not only to continue the story, but to heighten it and to broaden the scope of it”. He says, “I think that when people see the size of the show and the interconnectivity between Daredevil and the city and these two new complications in his life, and that we’re able to tell the story not only of Matthew Murdock, but also Frank Castle and Elektra, that this really added to making season two even more exciting than season one. I can’t wait for people to get a load of them.”

For this season, the production once again took to filming on the streets of New York to ensure they were authentically capturing the city in a way that undeniably ensures that it is  another important character in the show. From its dirty alleys to warehouses to high end offices, apartments and hotels, the city provided the best stage a show could ask for. Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez loved the fact that the city was such as crucial element of the show. Ramirez says, “Doug and I both lived many years in New York. Like millions of others, we love that city, and were excited to tell stories about some of its most famous fictional inhabitants.”

The Netflix original series Marvel’s Daredevil returns with the highly anticipated second season of its epic live-action adventure (season 1 of Marvel’s Daredevil is now streaming) with thirteen (13) one-hour episodes Friday, March 18, at 12:01 a.m. PT.

Blinded as a young boy but imbued with extraordinary senses, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) fights against injustice by day as a lawyer, and by night as the Super hero “Daredevil” in modern day Hell’s Kitchen, New York City.

Charlie Cox (Matt Murdock/Daredevil) is joined by a stellar cast including Deborah Ann Woll (Karen Page), Elden Henson (Foggy Nelson), Jon Bernthal (Frank Castle), Elodie Yung (Elektra), Rosario Dawson (Claire Temple), and Scott Glenn (Stick).

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