Daredevil Season 2 has been up and streaming on Netflix for some time now and if you haven’t watched it, are you okay? Should we call someone? Just kidding. But seriously, go watch it if you still haven’t. It was another successful team-up for Netflix and Marvel after an exceptional Jessica Jones. If you haven’t watched that yet, that’s it, I’m coming over! As I’ve previously written, I recognize my bias and personal history with Daredevil, but in my opinion, especially in terms of tone, the series continues to be the MCU’s masterpiece (ducks).
Was it better than the first season? For me, if we’re talking overall, no. D’Onofrio’s Fisk was truly something special and will be difficult to surpass. Emmy fail. I was pleasantly surprised that my sort of social media blackout around the first week of its release worked in that I wasn’t spoiled by his appearances in S2. His acting chops top everyone else’s, hero or villain, in the MCU. I’d add second place goes to David Tennant’s performance in Jessica Jones. Creeper. Having said that, I think that first third of episodes (plus the prison fight scene, I mean come-the-fuck-on!!) of Daredevil v Punisher is some of the best work the MCU has given us and Jon Berthanal as The Punisher was brilliant.
Nice to know there will be more to come on that front.
Was it still problematic? No question. My NOC colleagues laid things out clearly and intelligently. If you haven’t read the critiques from Arthur Chu and Claire Light, please do. Asian character representation again is an issue, which is doubly frustrating since they knew from our voices from the first season and rather than correct the tropes, they thought, “This will work just fine.” Are they trolling us? Then there were the dynamics between Claire and Elektra that would have taken me longer to arrive at had I not read it from someone else’s quicker analysis. There’s still plenty to improve.
I also missed the Tower of Babel from S1 that brought such authenticity to the characters and to NYC. In one episode we were treated to five languages. Pre-Luke Cage and Black Panther, diversity in the MCU still feels like one tiny step forward, two big steps back. Most recently Captain America: Civil War made some good moves and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. leads the entire MCU. Side note: Mark Dacascos and Only The Strong were responsible for keeping me going in capoeira once back in the U.S. when I was younger and though he could have had more to work with in AoS, it was cool to see him. There’s got to be a Giyera vs. May outtake of that full fight lasting like fifteen minutes somewhere, right? And how adorable was that Yo-Yo, Mack, and Joey trio? They had better write Joey back in more next season1. For the positives, there are far too many negatives that outweigh them that the NOC are all over.
So with the bar low, I feel like the Daredevil casting folks do a decent job with POC talent. While we lost Vondie Curtis-Hall’s excellent Ben Urich (dammit) as well as the source of most of the español, Judith Delgado’s Elena Cardenas, we gained Élodie Yung as Elektra, Stephen Rider as Blake Tower, Danny Johnson as “Big Ben” Donovon, and one of two Jessica Jones cross-overs in Michelle Hurd as Samantha Reyes. Of those new characters however, only one was a lead. If only there was an easy way to bring in a few more heroes of color into Hell’s Kitchen…
In case you didn’t catch it, Jessica Jones recommends Angela del Toro, one of her P.I. competitors, in an episode. Angela del Toro happens to be the White Tiger; and if we’re headed there, Black Tarantula/Carlos LaMuerto also needs to come along for the ride. For the #FistBros that were all pissed and calling “canon” on us for the #AAIronFist campaign, the great thing with both of these characters is that they are Nuyorican and Argentine characters IN THE COMICS. I suppose we could debate the degree to which an Argentine represents a POC, but at least we could get some español back on screen in the Kitchen.
Their bios are deep like any comic character, but a tie that binds is that both become powered people by lineage. Del Toro is the original White Tiger’s niece who inherits her uncle’s amulets that enhance her fighting skills. Guess where said amulets come from? K’un Lun; and we know that shit is coming. There is a long line of Tarantulas leading to LaMuerto, but the original one starts with a guy trained by The Hand who besides general ninja badassery, somehow gets healing powers and enhanced strength passed down the generations. I guess there’s a Cyclops wannabe eye blast too, but he rarely uses it cause then he can’t heal quickly… so yeah. Pass. It wouldn’t fit the street level style anyway. An interesting contrast between them is that whereas Del Toro is trying to fight the good fight with the FBI before her heroic upgrade, LaMuerto actually starts as a crime boss before he sees the light via the guy that can’t see.
Nobody can say with certainty, but considering what has happened over the past two Daredevil seasons, there is a high probability that the writers may be looking at the “Shadowland” arc from the comics for either The Defenders or a future Daredevil season. Whether Daredevil vs. The Punisher, Batman vs. Superman, or Civil War, the big two know how much we enjoy watching our heroes turn on each other and this also occurs in Shadowland when DD breaks bad with The Hand and it takes all The Defenders and other Marvel characters to rein him in. By the way, in terms of an epic battle we’ll never get to see on screen, with an added healing ability (there’s a lot of crap in the plot; super demonic possession, for example) to balance out Logan’s, the DD vs. Wolverine throw down is amazing. Studio rights once again be damned.
The point is that White Tiger and Black Tarantula play big roles in those comics. Finally, since del Toro was already mentioned in Jessica Jones, they are tied to all the Hell’s Kitchen crew, and it would be easy to write in LaMuerto, the writers could pretty much take their pick of which future season and which Netflix/Marvel series to use as vehicles to introduce these two. Maybe they’re already coming in The Defenders? So like we do at the NOC, perhaps a little fan casting for White Tiger and Black Tarantula? I had immediate ideas, and then bailed on them.
For White Tiger it went like this in a matter of seconds: bad-ass actress of Puerto Rican descent = Michelle Rodriguez. Done. I was big fan of hers in Girfight, Lost, the Machete, and The Fast and Furious flicks. She can act. Albeit choreographed, she also took on Ronda Rousey. No small feat. She has even said and done some good things for WOC in Hollywood. Why can’t they stop while they’re ahead?
As tends to happen with celebs, though, she started talking problematic bullshit. I’m all for original content too, as I think she intended to say, but her “stop stealing the white people’s superheroes” didn’t come out so smoothly and pretty much directly undermined things our editor and many of us work on and write about at the NOC. She walked it back, of course, but the Google list of bad stuff she has said is longer than it ever should be. There was the “trashy and black” Oscars comment, trans folks rightly have issues with her upcoming role (Tomboy: A Revenger’s Tale), and so on. Of course the brutal irony here is that La Tigresa Blanca is an original comic book character of color, but no. No Michelle for White Tiger.
Black Tarantula casting ideas were much more difficult.
I had remembered this Argentine fighter turned action guy from back in the day, Héctor Echavarría, and I think he’s been in stuff I’ve probably seen, but I haven’t seen any of his actual work as a lead actor. Apparently there is quite a bit of new stuff and he got a bunch of MMA big names to sign on like St. Pierre, BJ Penn, even Anderson Silva. The problem is, from what I’ve seen, the movies look like garbage. Could he do it? For authenticity’s sake, I suppose, but if he did the stunts, could he get an acting double?
My counter though, is another South American (Chilean) martial arts/action guy from a similar background who has some flicks I do like: the acrobatic Marko Zaror.
Then I thought: “The Charlie Coxing has worked so well though.” It’s a verb, yes. As in, finding an actor I would never come up with for such an important role and trusting in the stunt/fight coordinator and team to make it work. Philip Silvera — Daredevil and Deadpool stunt coordinator — is at the top of the game. Thunderous applause.
So I put this out to all who are reading this: who would you cast as the White Tiger and the Black Tarantula? If you’re with me in that you’d like to see these characters do some defending alongside The Defenders with the bonus of kicking up the diversity, let Marvel, Netflix, the NOC, and me know and let’s get it on the great Loeb’s radar. See what I did there?
- I started this before the Orlando tragedy. In its wake, I’m hoping there’s an LGBT AoS writer now throwing books worth of new material at the showrunner for the MCU’s only gay Latinx superhero. ↩