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Opinion

Marvel Netflix Universe: Season Reviews

The movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are a huge accomplishment. Taking all of those comic book characters and putting them into one interconnected universe is really cool. Adding in iconic characters like Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and Spider-Man is awesome. It’s even cooler to see lesser known characters like Ant-Man, Star-Lord, and Black Panther made iconic and likeable. But it seems like a lot of people still don’t know about a couple of other heroes in the MCU: the heroes from the Marvel Netflix shows. I wanted to know more about these characters, so I decided to watch every single one of the shows and all of their seasons. I started watching them beginning in July 2019 and finished in February 2020, and I have really enjoyed them. I thought that I would go ahead and review each of the seasons and give my thoughts on each of them. (There are a few spoilers!)

Daredevil Season One

This season was a great start to this universe, with likeable characters and great actors. Charlie Cox does a great job as Daredevil, and even the villain (played by Vincent D’onofrio) is great. D’onofrio does a great job as this very scary character who thinks that he is doing the right thing for his city, but he is also killing people. The story flows really well between the thirteen episodes, and it only slows down a bit in the middle. The fight scenes were great as well, with excellent choreography shot in unique ways, such as a two-minute long scene with no cuts at all. I thought that the story was pretty interesting as it deals with Wilson Fisk trying to make the city a better place, but he is also a mob boss causing havoc on the streets. Daredevil keeps coming in and ruining Fisk’s plan, which makes Fisk more and more hateful towards Daredevil. I also liked the city’s reaction to Daredevil as he is initially met with police officers who want him arrested for being a vigilante. Eventually he gains the city’s trust and becomes a hero. 9/10

Jessica Jones Season One

One thing that this season does really well is the characters. They all have very interesting backstories; and even though they aren’t the most pleasant people, the show still manages to get you to like and care about them. You feel pretty bad for the villain, even if he is a really scary and evil person. The flashback scenes were great, showing how everyone came to be the way that they are. Jessica’s flashbacks in particular were great as you really do get to see the sorrow in her life. It was just neat to see a character with PTSD who can’t bear to think about what was done to her by the villain, Kilgrave. Kilgrave is a phenomenal villain as he is scary, but I was kind of rooting for him to change around the end. Kilgrave is played by David Tennant, and he does a great job making his character very fun to watch but also really despicable at the same time. Of course, this is enhanced by his powers: the ability to take away people’s free will and make them do his bidding. This show also introduces Luke Cage, and he is pretty important in this season. The pacing was pretty good—Kilgrave’s plotline went on a little too long, but I was still invested. 9/10

Daredevil Season Two

This season starts off great with the plotline about Daredevil versus the Punisher; but unfortunately, the season loses some steam when it introduces Elektra. The Punisher is a really compelling character as his family was shot right in front of him by the U.S. government, so his way of bringing justice to Hell’s Kitchen is a lot different than Daredevil’s. It’s fun watching them bicker and watching Daredevil try to stop the Punisher from killing people. This, unfortunately, becomes a side plot; it moves out of the way to make room for the Hand plotline. When Elektra is introduced, things start off okay with flashbacks that show her history with Daredevil, and she almost starts to convince him that killing is how to get real justice. But when the Hand is introduced, the season falls apart for me. The show doesn’t explain what the Hand is well enough, so I was pretty confused with what they were supposed to be. The pacing in this season isn’t great either, and I was pretty bored throughout a few episodes. But overall, it’s a pretty good followup to season one. 7/10

Luke Cage Season One

Luke Cage is really expanded upon from his introduction in Jessica Jones, and I thought that he was a pretty compelling character. He doesn’t really want powers, and he doesn’t consider himself a hero; but he tries his best to help people. The villains in the first half were really cool as well: the crime boss and the politician work together to try and stop Luke. Unfortunately, a big twist that happens in the middle of the season slows the whole show down, and the show started to get a bit more boring. It wasn’t terrible; but once they added a third villain, it lowered the quality of the season. I was still invested, but it dragged a little bit. 8/10

Iron Fist Season One

This season started off with some cool ideas such as expanding on the role of the Hand, having Danny take down the villain Madame Gao, and having Claire Temple (a character that has a role in almost every season) be more important. This season unfortunately butchers the execution of these ideas. This season is not very good. I think that I enjoyed it more than most people did, but it wasn’t great. You would expect this season to be all about Kung fu and fighting, but a lot of the season is dragged down by pointless scenes all about Rand Enterprises (Iron Fist’s business). The first few episodes are just about him trying to prove his identity to everyone, which isn’t the best plotline for a martial arts show. The villain is pretty stupid as well—his motivations are dumb and he isn’t even a big threat. This season does end with a few cliffhangers, though, which is pretty cool. The pacing was actually pretty good. I was never bored, and I always wanted to see what would happen next due to the pretty decent fight scenes—at least compared to the ones in Daredevil. 4/10

The Defenders

I loved how this season brought all of the heroes together. This is the Avengers of this mini-universe, so seeing everyone come together was really cool. They met in some really interesting and realistic ways that were fun to watch. Just seeing the team bicker and talk to each other was fun and so was watching them fight. The fight scenes are pretty good as we see some of the characters’ powers come together in fun ways. The dialogue in this season was definitely simplified, which was nice, but it felt weird to hear the characters talk differently than they did in the other shows. The actors all do a good job, except for Sigourney Weaver. She plays the villain, Alexandra. She plays the character in a weird way: very monotone and a little bit boring at times. The plot does get really confusing around the end, but it was an okay story overall. It does leave off on a cliffhanger, which leads into something that I’ll discuss below. 6/10

The Punisher Season One

The thing that this season did best was the pacing. Barely any scenes are unimportant, and every episode matters. A lot of the other shows introduced subplots that didn’t really end up mattering too much, and I thought that was going to happen in this season. But luckily, all of the subplots were important and became one big plot in the end. This season had a really good story with a lot of twists and turns, and it was very entertaining throughout. I loved how the story was partly a political thriller in which the Punisher needs to punish the people who killed his family. When he punishes these people, he really does punish them. The scenes are sometimes disgusting to watch. This show is rated M because he really goes all out on these people. This season really made me care about the characters as well. The main duo of the Punisher and Micro was very entertaining and made me really like them. This was one of my favorite seasons of the whole mini-universe. 9/10

Jessica Jones Season Two

I liked this season a lot. It focused on Jessica and more of her tragic past and a lot of the other characters as well. Even the villain had a pretty compelling origin, and I wanted to see more of her. One character that I didn’t like was Trish Walker. I liked her a lot as a side character in season one; but in this season, she continues to make bad decisions repeatedly and is very annoying in general. I did like the new character that Jessica warmed up to in the end—he was a nice little addition to make Jessica less misanthropic. (But he was only in one scene in season three.) I thought that the story was pretty interesting; it didn’t drag on too much; and even though the ending was a bit anticlimactic, I enjoyed this season. 8/10

Luke Cage Season Two

This is a season that has some pretty good ideas, but it doesn’t really execute a lot of them that well. It starts off with a really menacing villain called Bushmaster, and he is pretty great. He has a compelling origin story and interesting motivations, but the way that he is defeated in the show is pretty anticlimactic. The plotline about Luke Cage losing his temper and becoming a vigilante could have been cool, but it feels a little forced in the way that the show presents the idea. I really liked the drama involving his girlfriend Claire; it led to a really powerful scene, but she is ultimately written out of the whole MCU. I liked the way that they expanded on the villains from the first season (for the most part), but they are trapped in a pretty messy plot with really bad pacing. A couple of the episodes are really boring due to Netflix forcing the show to have thirteen episodes instead of the original ten. Some of the episodes that were probably an afterthought were actually pretty entertaining; but since the season had to be longer, it screwed up the pacing. The ending was also very strange as the payoff to the whole series. It didn’t work for me, and it was pretty jarring. 5/10

Iron Fist Season Two

Compared to the first season, this was a huge improvement for Iron Fist. One of my complaints about the first season was that it focused too much on Rand Enterprises and not enough about the martial arts. Luckily, this season is almost fully about martial arts. There are way more fight scenes (and better ones), more mysteries to unravel about Danny’s time at K’un-Lun (where he learned kung fu), and a much better villain. The villain is pretty interesting. He was set up in the first season to be angry at Danny, and in the second season he is ready to take revenge. A twist that happens a few episodes in made for some really cool action; and along with some of the new characters, it is a pretty entertaining season. This season is only ten episodes, so the pacing was a lot better. I also think that the acting in this season was a lot better. Finn Jones, who plays Danny, seemed like he was still figuring out the role in the first season; but in the Defenders and in this season, he is a lot better. The worst part about season two is the ending as the events that unfold during the last few minutes felt very weird for this show. It would have been nice to have a third season in order to explain this; but unfortunately, the show was cancelled. 7/10

Daredevil Season Three

This is, by far, my favorite season in this mini-universe. I have almost no problems with it, and it was pretty perfect. Taking place right after The Defenders, we see how Matt is feeling after all of the events that unfolded in that show. He is at a very different place in his life: he has lost his powers and feels that he should give up life as Daredevil, and we get to see his journey to get back into being a hero. The drama in this season is perfect. We see how torn Matt is over whether he should kill or not, and we also see him thinking about everyone that he has hurt as Daredevil. He wants to go back and see his friends, but he doesn’t want to burden them with his other life. He struggles with his Catholicism as he deals with how being a vigilante might be straying from the path of God. Wilson Fisk also returns in this season, and he is fantastic once again. He is constantly pulling the strings and controlling the FBI; but he is also just a normal man trying to get back together with Vanessa and setting up a wedding with her. He also creates a new villain, who is pretty fantastic as well. This new villain is very menacing and has a very compelling origin. Because he is so unhinged and his powers are so cool, it makes for some really nice action scenes with him and Daredevil. The action is just as good as ever, with a long-take fight scene that is over ten minutes long. The actor plays his character for the majority of the fight—it’s not a stunt double. The whole season is phenomenal, and I have almost no complaints about it. 10/10

The Punisher Season Two

After finishing this season, I was very torn. This season tries to do a few too many things, and it doesn’t juggle all of the plotlines that well. There are two main villains in this season, but the two of them don’t have anything to do with each other. The plotlines never intersect at any point during the season. It starts off with Russian mercenaries going after Frank’s new companion, Amy, over some pictures she shot that a very rich and powerful family doesn’t want getting out. Then the season moves away from that plotline for about three episodes in order to focus on the other plotline in which the villain from season one comes back and gets revenge. The season keeps swapping between the two plotlines. Because of this, viewers go a very long time without seeing characters from the Russian plotline and vice versa. The pacing wasn’t too great either—there were some very long, drawn out scenes and a lot of pop songs thrown in randomly. The plot is just very messy, very confusing, and it made the season less enjoyable. The villains in this season were actually pretty interesting, at least in concept. The villain from season one couldn’t remember anything that happened since his army days, and the new villain, who was a very strange character the writers tried to make sympathetic, but it could’ve been handled better. He still kills people without mercy, so it was a little confusing. The ending wasn’t the best that this show could’ve had, but it had some good emotional parts. 5/10

Jessica Jones Season Three

Right off the bat, this season starts with a bang. The first episode and a whole lot of this season is about Jessica’s job as a private investigator. This is a nice addition because we didn’t get a whole lot of her solving mysteries in season one or two. It is also just fun to watch her outsmart people instead of always resorting to force. The tension between Jessica and Trish is heightened this season based on some events that unfolded at the end of season two, and it was pretty interesting to watch because they both have pretty solid reasons for getting mad at each other. Trish had her moments of annoyance in this season, but I found her character arc extremely compelling and she wasn’t nearly as bad as she was in season two. Eventually, they do settle their differences, and it is nice to see them make up and start working together in order to catch the new villain, Gregory Sallinger. I see what the writers were trying to do with the villain, to have him be this criminal mastermind who covers his tracks really well and uses the law to protect himself from being arrested, but he’s not the most menacing villain (especially since he doesn’t have powers and therefore cannot compete with Jessica). He was just hateable enough to make me want him taken out; but at the same time, I couldn’t wait to see what he would do next to outsmart the heroes. I did like how Jessica really does want to kill Sallinger, but she can’t because of the incident that gave her PTSD in season one. She still hasn’t gotten over it based on a lot of evidence from season two and three. Even if it was only explored a little bit, it’s nice to see series continuity in this form. This season can’t top the original season; but as the last season of Jessica Jones and the last of these shows in general (at least for now), it was fantastic. It makes it difficult to decide which show I preferred: Daredevil or Jessica Jones. 9/10

Are they worth watching?

I would highly recommend watching these shows if you haven’t yet. They provide some of the best content in the MCU with some of the characters actually topping some from the movies. For example, I would rank Jessica Jones over Star-Lord, just based on character arc. These shows are all rated M, so do be cautious if you decide to watch them; but I would give them a go. Unfortunately, the shows are on hold at the moment. Disney does not want to work with Netflix anymore due to the creation of Disney+, but hopefully the shows will continue on that service. I will be there on day one if that is the case. Fully fleshed out characters, great storytelling, and fun fight scenes make these shows a very fun series to watch. 

My Final Ranking of the Seasons

13. Iron Fist Season One

12. Luke Cage Season Two

11. The Punisher Season Two

10. The Defenders

9. Iron Fist Season Two

8. Daredevil Season Two

7. Jessica Jones Season Two

6. Luke Cage Season One

5. Jessica Jones Season Three

4. Jessica Jones Season One

3. The Punisher Season One

2. Daredevil Season One

1. Daredevil Season Three

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