With the surprising news that Daredevil, Iron Fist, and other Marvel Netflix shows are leaving the streamer next month, we thought we’d offer our recommendation on which shows you should watch or skip before the March 1 deadline.
Considering we just saw Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdoch/Daredevil pop up in Spider-Man: No Way Home and Vince D’Onofrio’s Kingpin make a guest appearance in the Disney+ series Hawkeye, it stands to reason that you may want to check out how these characters originated in case Marvel decides to implement them into future films and shows.
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Of all the Marvel Netflix shows, Daredevil was perhaps the most consistently successful. Thanks to a cast of colorful characters, namely lawyer-cum-vigilante Matt Murdock (Cox), Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), Stick (Scott Glenn), and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), and an engaging storyline revolving around D’Onofrio’s villainous Kingpin and Elodie Yung’s occasionally villainous Elektra, Daredevil reveled in the grit of its street-level hero; and indulged in enough bone-breaking, head-in-a-car-door violence to cause even Game of Thrones to shudder. While later seasons got a little carried away with the body count (faceless ninjas, Punisher, Electra, oh my!) as a means to overcome their meandering plots, the continued evolution of the core characters is ultimately what makes Daredevil so appealing.
Skip or Watch: Watch.
The first season of Jessica Jones offers solid entertainment mostly due to Krysten Ritter’s pitch-perfect performance as the titular hero/detective and David Tennant’s endlessly appealing villain Killgrave. Unfortunately, Season 2, while enjoyable in parts, suffered the same problems as many of the Netflix Marvel shows with far too many episodes stretching out a bland storyline revolving around a drug produced by a company called IGH that gifts ordinary people superpowers, albeit with problematic side effects. Season 3 is a little more focused as it details Jessica’s attempts to take down her friend-turned-enemy Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) and boasts plenty of action to boot but still can’t reach the high bar set by Season 1.
Skip or Watch: Definitively watch Season 1, and maybe Season 2 and 3 if you have time.
The first half of Luke Cage Season 1 is amazing with its focus on Mike Colter’s soft-spoken, but undeniably formidable Luke Cage, and Mahershala Ali’s slippery but dangerous Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. Alas, the second half, packed with far too many filler episodes and an overemphasis on Luke’s romantic fling with Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), isn’t quite up to par, but still well worth the watch. Season 2, on the other hand, goes in the opposite direction and starts off slow but builds towards an appropriately explosive finale that’s well worth the wait. Mustafa Shakir’s Bushmaster and Gabrielle Dennis’ Nightshade are standouts, along with the always reliable Alfre Woodard.
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Skip or Watch: Patience is required, but both seasons of Luke Cage are well worth a watch.
Perhaps the blandest of all Marvel’s Netflix shows, Iron Fist never gets off the ground in terms of its plot or spectacle. The first season feels rushed and unfocused, while Season 2 is a mostly tedious affair that, at the very least, manages to end on a high note with its final episode. Admittedly, some of the fight choreography in both seasons is cool, with Season 2 coming out on top in that regard, and performances from Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, and (later) Alice Eve are winning enough to warrant a peek for diehard fans.
Skip or Watch: Skip.
The Defenders starts off with so much promise, culminating in a sensational third episode that sees Marvel’s Netflix heroes team up for the first time to defeat Sigourney Weaver’s mysterious Alexandra. Disappointingly, the remaining five episodes never reach the same heights as those first three and lead to a finale that feels more obligatory than spectacular. Seeing these four heroes — Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage — banter and work alongside each other is still enough to offer a tepid recommendation.
Skip or Watch: Watch the first three episodes and the finale. Skip the rest.
Finally, I’m not quite sure what to make of The Punisher (Jon Bernthal). I enjoyed his extended cameo in Daredevil Season 2 but wasn’t really that invested to see the character in two solo series. Sure, the approach here is much better than either of the two big-screen iterations of Frank Castle; and some of the action pops, but nothing in either Season 1 or Season 2 of The Punisher truly stands out, resulting in a rather generic exercise in tedious action enacted by brooding and uninteresting characters. Maybe the series just had the unfortunate bad luck to be released on the downward slope of the Marvel Netflix saga.
Skip or Watch: Skip.