Thursday, March 10, 2016

Daredevil Season 2: All About the Hand

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Daredevil season 2 will be released in just over a week, and before that happens I want to take a little time to talk about a couple of the things we will see in season 2.  Next week I will post my Expectations for Daredevil season 2 the day before the season drops on Netflix, but this week I want to talk about the Hand, the group which looks like it will serve as the primary antagonists for the season.

The Hand has a long and storied history in the comics, going back to the early ‘80s (actually, here’s a fun fact:  the Hand in Daredevil served as the inspiration for the Foot Clan in the Ninja Turtles lore).  They have been antagonists of Daredevil for most of their history, up to and including their corruption of his former love interest, Elektra.  The Kingpin has taken over the Hand to serve as his foot soldiers to take over New York City.  Even Daredevil himself served as the leader of the Hand for a major street-level crossover event called “Shadowland”—a story arc which is rumored to be a possible inspiration for Daredevil season 2 (though I think I would be more interested in seeing it adapted for The Defenders season 2 or 3 when there are a few more street-level heroes and they have more history together).

In the comics, the Hand traces its history back to a 16th century sensei who trained samurai to overthrow the corrupt Japanese government and place the power back in Japanese hands.  However, this Hand organization was quickly overthrown by a rival ninja clan which replaced the original sensei with the cult of a demon called the Beast.  Under its new leadership the Hand sought power for itself and allied itself with various villainous organizations in the pursuit of its goals.  Among others, this included an alliance with Baron Strucker and Hydra after the end of World War II.

The Hand is opposed by a rival ninja clan known as the Chaste, which is led in the comics by Stick (Matt Murdock’s mentor).  The Chaste and Hand have been engaged in a conflict for years, which has led to multiple confrontations and casualties on both sides.  Notable members of the Chaste are Stick and his various students, including Stone, Daredevil, and Elektra.  Interestingly, Elektra was originally a member of the Chaste who infiltrated the Hand undercover but was discovered and forced to work for the Hand for real.

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As of now we know very little of either the Hand or the Chaste in Daredevil beyond some educated guesses from season 1 and speculation on season 2.  We know that Nobu from season 1 was a relatively high-ranking member of the Hand based on his implied position in both Fisk’s organization and his own group—this fact also suggests a connection between the Hand and the Yakuza.  Likewise Nobu dressed in the traditional outfit of a Hand ninja, suggesting a high position within their ranks.  Also during season 1 Matt’s mentor Stick appeared, evidently as a high-ranking member of a rival clan to the Hand (logically the Chaste), but not as their leader.  Instead, Stone appears to be the leader of the Chaste, and Stick reports to him.  Stick came to New York to seek Daredevil’s assistance in stopping the machinations of the Hand by murdering a child with some mysterious power.  Stick succeeded, and it is unknown whether the Hand has yet succeeded in finding a replacement.

Season 2 of Daredevil will introduce and explore the Hand in a major way, but thus far we only know three things about them.  First, we know that the Hand is not gone but has only been in hiding, biding their time until they strike.  Second, Elektra will be appearing in season 2 in order to help Matt fight against the Hand.  Third, one of the promotional posters shows Matt fighting a group of Hand ninjas. Beyond this, everything else is pure speculation.  One of the trailers showed a large gaping hole in the ground which may or may not be connected to the Hand.  And other than this, we really have no idea what role the Hand will play in season 2.  But it will probably be a big one, as they are the only real “villain” announced for the season.

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If I had to speculate further on the Hand, I would expect their plans for Hell’s Kitchen (alluded to in Daredevil season 1) to be the major threat in season 2 which unites the three (anti)heroes of Daredevil, Punisher, and Elektra.  As far as what their plan actually is, the only thing coming to mind is that they could be attempting to resurrect the Beast—but that feels like a long-shot in this series, at least until Iron Fist blows the mystical realm wide open.

Following season 2, the Hand will probably have been defeated, leaving them to fade back into the woodwork and wait until they can try again—in The Defenders season 1 or 2 or Daredevil season 3.  I think this is when it might be better to see a “Shadowland” adaptation, in which Daredevil takes over the Hand and uses them to defeat and imprison all the criminals in New York, only to be defeated by the combined might of all the street-level heroes in New York.

As of now we really do not have more than pure speculation to go on as far as the Hand’s role in the MCU.  However, considering how long of a history they have with Daredevil (as well as the MCU’s one-off villain problem), it’s a virtual certainty that we will not see the last of them in Daredevil season 2.  “Ol’ Hornhead” will probably have to put up with them for a long time yet.  And I am perfectly okay with this prospect!

What role to you think the Hand will play in Daredevil season 2?  Do you want to see a “Shadowland” adaptation in the MCU?  Let me know in the comments!

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