The first season of Daredevilspent as much time developing its villain, Wilson Fisk, as its title hero. But the baddies may have taken the edge in the show’s second season, which just dropped in its 13-episode entirety on Netflix.
In fact, Jon Bernthal’s performance as the Punisher is so good that Netflix is rumored to be giving him his own spinoff series. “This is a character who means a lot to many people and I understand that,” he says. “The comic audience is very passionate and intelligent; they are very loyal. This character belongs to them, and I hope to do well.”
Known for his role as the brash Shane Walsh in The Walking Dead, Bernthal had the backing of fans when he took on the role of the Punisher. "[The Walking Dead] was a great job; it is very rare to be able to portray a character so intense and well-thought-out,” he says.
Another newcomer for Season 2, French actress Elodie Yung as Matt Murdock/Daredevil’s not-so-good ex Elektra, doesn’t fear the wrath of fans: “I’m excited to see how people react. I’m more curious than pressurized,” says Yung. “I really enjoyed my character and played it with love, so I hope they receive my version well.”
The superhero boom in the entertainment industry is an understandable response to the issues of our modern world, says Bernthal. They are strong enough figures who can confront the fears — from terrorism to environmental disasters — that feel too big for ordinary people to tackle. “These things affect us all, make us feel powerless,” he says. “It makes sense that we seek these stories of beings that can do something about it.”
Yung, on the other hand, confesses that she doesn’t follow superhero projects; however, the drama and chemistry of the show's characters give them a human dimension, creating a way for non-fans to get into the story. It’s what appealed to her about the role of Elektra, and “I think that it’s what makes this series successful. It’s different,” she says.
Unlike some other blockbuster villains, the Punisher has a personal vendetta: finding out who murdered his family and taking revenge on them. Creating the character was a dark process, but being able to relate helped.
“I would have not been able to do this role if I was not a father and a husband,” he says. “It’s only when you love something more than yourself that you understand the notion of how you would feel if you lost that love. Preparation is both physical and emotional.”
Season 2 finds Murdock conflicted, too, after becoming the vigilante Daredevil to clean up the streets of Hell’s Kitchen. His relationship with Elektra is interwoven with an old complicated romance that unites them despite their differing ideas of justice.
“She thinks they are very similar. In many ways, they have similarities: Matt may have that darkness and she may be able to trigger it,” Yung explains. “Elektra feels no guilt, kills without blinking, and you do not know whether she is being manipulative or honest. Matt has a strong moral sense and adds an emotional component.”
Yung, who has a black belt in karate, says the character’s independence is the kind of “strong female character” that she hopes to see more of. “I think it’s important to have female characters who have their own dimension, exist by themselves, not only as the girlfriend of the protagonist — that’s boring,” she says.
“Elektra is complex, and the series has its own evolution to help you understand her psychology and what is in her.”