Last week, Entertainment Weekly gave us a clear look at the somewhat new suit of Daredevil for the second season. And while it has its improvements over the last one, the suit for the most part still looks… underwhelming. It retains most of what I disliked about the first costume, like the overly militaristic mesh work, or the poorly shaped cowl. I’ve always likened the Season 1 suit to Captain America’s Avengers costume; it looks fantastic on paper but fails to translate organically on screen. I’m no costume designer, nor do I have any substantial knowledge on how these things are crafted, but it doesn’t take a professional to notice the stark difference between the final product and what it looked like on paper.
There are two main things with the suit that don’t work for me on a visual level: the complex patchwork and the cowl. Having all these black and red motifs makes Daredevil look like he’s too heavily armored, as if he’s going up against the Chitauri or HYDRA. This would be a perfect fit if that were the case but remember, Daredevil beats up jean-wearing bad guys on a nightly basis. He beats up average looking Joe’s wearing leather jackets as their only protection. He looks like the overdressed friend who comes into a regular house party wearing a tux. I want a costume that is consistent with idea that Daredevil needs to be armored for protection but presented in a more simplistic, minimal fashion – more red and less black.
Like the Captain America Avengers uniform, the cowl could use a little bit of trimming in the forehead area. I understand that Charlie Cox has a bit of a higher hairline than most – which the show does a great job of subtly hiding. But given the curved/angled nature of the upper half of the mask (to simulate a brooding sulk, I presume) and the placement of the horns, Charlie looks like he has an even wider forehead. (On a side-note, all this cowl talk reminds of the DD mask proposed by one of my favorite Daredevil artists of all time, Chris Samnee.)
Those are pretty much the tiny nitpicks I have with the actual look of the suit. I don’t hate it with a burning rage. So much of the logic that went into the design, I adore. The utilization of protective mesh patches is a fantastic logical concept along with the idea to cover Cox’s distinct nose. The way Daredevil’s use of escrima sticks comes into the story via Stick’s training during Matt’s childhood is such a brilliant idea. I myself am still blown away that they used Melvin Potter as the source of his suit. It’s these bits and pieces of design logic that make the suit work for me; creative liberties that deepen my appreciation for their efforts.
What doesn’t make the suit work for me, however, is the way it fails to fit the tone they’ve built for the show. It’s what ultimately makes the reveal a dud. It has all the ingredients that could potentially make a great meal. In Daredevil’s case, the red suit reveal is the dessert of a full course meal i.e., a dessert that fails to complement the flavors that came before. Captain America’s Avengers suit may be the MCU costume that gets ragged on the most but despite it looking silly, the suit, for the most part, fits right into the film’s aesthetic, something that the Daredevil suit fails to do – which is my biggest gripe with the costume going into the second season.
The introduction of the red suit in the final moments of the series finale inevitably threw off the show’s disciplined grounded tone, something which – if I’m not mistaken – showrunner Steven DeKnight acknowledges himself. Due to tight production limitations, it’s something that could not be avoided, but nonetheless, ended the show on a note that wasn’t as strong as it was when the show cuts to the pier sequence of Episode 1. The show, after all, spends a good 12 hours getting audiences accustomed to the now classic black ninja outfit; a costume perfect for the show’s urban concrete aesthetic. However, when the camera pans to Daredevil in his brand new spanking suit, from the music to its editing, it starts to feel like an entirely different series.
The fight choreography loses its ninja-esque finesse. The cinematography and fluid editing wanes and becomes stilted to hide the stiffness of the suit. The show’s incredibly haunting NIN-esque score is replaced by cheesy superhero fanfare. In those final moments, I couldn’t help but feel that there even was a slight persona shift from the character itself; DD’s Frank Miller poise displayed throughout the series subtly turned into the more classical swashbuckling persona of the Silver Age Daredevil – something I generally consider awesome and wouldn’t have cared for if it weren’t for how it contrasted 98% of the show’s sensibilities.
Some may argue that tonal changes may be attributed to budgetary restrictions or even the idea that the suit symbolizes the full realization of the character – Daredevil finally knows who he is, who he needs to be and has the winning upper-hand against Fisk hence the out of character action poses – which I find a bit alarming. The idea that the show has to sacrifice its defining DNA to make way for a costume is worrisome. I’d hope that they wouldn’t.
To conclude this rant of mine (which I hope will be perceived as somewhat respectful to/by those who poured their efforts into the creation of the series), all I want is a costume that works on par with the show. A suit that compliments the fantastic world the creators have built and vice versa. Never mind those minor gripes I have with the cowl or complex patchwork, I just want the suit to look great when Daredevil inevitably shares the screen with the Chaste and Hand ninjas and the Defenders.
The good news is that there are a lot of good things going on for this second season. I love Steven DeKnight as he’s one of the coolest, most talented professionals out there, but a part of me is glad they got new showrunners Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez to inject new blood into the series. I’m excited to see what they bring to the table. I look forward to the day my gripes and worries get proven wrong when they finally release some footage. All in all, I think it goes without saying how unnaturally crazy I am for this show, despite the criticisms you just read. It’s no coincidence that I got a Daredevil tattoo the same day the first season premiered. I may not have enjoyed the costume as others have but, man, am I still in love with that first season.