In the wake of the cancellation news for Iron Fist—and more recently Luke Cage—Netflix released the third season of the Marvel superhero show that started it all for the platform, Daredevil, pitting the blind hero against Kingpin once more.
In the aftermath of the Defenders miniseries, Matt Murdoc, half dead from having the Midland Circle building drop on his head, reaches the church we see him visit often and with the help of good old Father Lantom and a nun called Maggie, he gets back to his feet, determined to continue his fight against darkness. There’s a catch though. He seems to take the past experiences as a sign that he can’t be Matt Murdock and Daredevil, that he can’t have a relationship with friends or any loved ones and still be able to do what he does, so he decides he’s done being Matt Murdock, he’s now cutting that part of his life out.
On the other side of the fence is Kingpin. Wilson Fisk, to bring his loved one home, decides to become a witness for the FBI, giving them copious amounts of intelligence on Albanian gangs. But as with everything Wilson Fisk does, it’s never so simple, even less so when one of the FBI agents is a man with uncanny aim and an unstable personality.
Daredevil Season 3 is superb on all fronts. There’s action, intrigue and character growth, and tons of moments that even comic fans who have read everything Daredevil-related will enjoy, even if they know some of the beats in this season’s story.
The fights are fantastic and there’s even an updated version to the now famous hallway fight, a single shot encounter in a prison that has Matt Murdock defend himself against inmates, delivering hard blows and getting the crap beat out of him. In fact, this season we see Daredevil drop some of the acrobatics in favour of hard hitting, he even wraps his arms with ropes in Muay Thai style to make sure his blows deal lots of damage.
As for the narrative, it’s a slow burn story, taking its time to present the different elements, the players and their pawns and builds up to the major confrontations in the season. It’s a complex storyline that delves not just into the machinations of the big villain but also the motivations and their relatable aspects. Wilson Fisk is a criminal mastermind and a vicious enemy, but he’s not altogether monstrous and Vincent D’Onofrio continues to deliver a masterful performance.
Matt Murdock goes through a crisis of faith and even more a crisis of humanity, coming to a point where he’s actively considering crossing the lines he once swore he never would. He’s darker and edgier and no longer believes in the system or even the law.
Foggy and Karen are still here and I loved seeing them take centre stage, their storylines having massive impact on the narrative. Foggy witnesses the Fisk situation and decides to do something about it and in doing so making himself the most public target imaginable, to keep himself safe from Kingpin’s retaliation. This season we see Foggy become a hero in his own right, but a hero of the law, one inside the system and working with law enforcement, with the people that want to put Fisk behind bars and aren’t on the payroll. Hell, he’s the one who figures out the master plan. I’ll say it again, this season Foggy is AMAZING.
Karen does what she does best, find out the truth and this season she does some serious digging, putting many of the pieces together to fully understand the scope of the villain’s plans and I love the scene where Karen visit Fisk’s apartment and tells some very hard truths to his face, even if it means putting herself in danger. It’s a powerfully emotional scene.
And I couldn’t write this review without talking about Agents Nadeem and Poindexter. Let’s me rephrase that, Agent Nadeem and Bullseye.
Nadeem is an agent in a desperate economic situation who catches a big break with Wilson Fisk that earns him praise and rewards, and proves to be one of the most moral characters in this dark Marvel cinematic world, even as his world comes crashing down. He has, hands down, some of the most amazing scenes in the season and the last one is a superb piece of performance by actor Jay Ali.
And I love that they took the time to build up the story for Bullseye, though no one refers to him by that name. In this interpretation he’s mentally unstable, leaning on good people for his moral compass and depending on the rigid structure of his job as an FBI agent to keep not only his emotions in check but his actions restricted. As long as his anchors are in place, he won’t do anything monstrous, even though his past shows that killing is nothing new to him, nor does he really care. But much like other characters in the Daredevil series, though he appears monstrous, he’s really not, just incredibly broken and it is possible, up to a point, to relate to him. I loved those scenes where he goes back to his old therapy recordings to ground himself, to desperately claw at the best sides of his personality.
With Marvel Series dropping over the past couple of weeks, I hope this series proves to be safe from the cancellation axe, as it is by far the best written and performed superhero show I’ve ever seen, this season proving it once and for all. It’s not just a good superhero show, it’s a superb piece of visual drama.