Daredevil is arguably the most consistently great Marvel series on Netflix.
Unlike the rest of the entourage (with the likes of Iron Fist or Luke Cage), Daredevil has never failed to receive a positive reception for all seasons, and with the Kingpin himself returning for season three, I dare say that it might actually be the best season of them all.
Let’s start with the most obvious.
Matt Murdock is the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.
Following directly after the events of Defenders, Matt Murdock finds himself at a crossroad in his life. This season brings his double-life into focus, honing in on its impacts to the people he loved, his city, or even to himself. Seeking refuge at the church he grew up in, Murdock attempts to juggle his conflict with Fisk, his conflict with Poindexter and his conflict with himself.
I have never said this aloud before, but Matt Murdock is one of my favourite heroes. His sense of right and wrong stems from both his career as a lawyer, as well as his faith in Catholicism. What’s always surprised me is how someone so religious can run around as a crime-fighting vigilante and call himself the Devil, but it comes from comic books so I guess it was meant to be ironic.
Nevertheless, the show takes the more gritty approach, discussing his life and the ramifications it can have on him through the different worlds. In church, it sparks heated discussions about faith and what God’s plan for Matt would have been. In the legal system, he’s being hunted by the FBI as a suspect after being framed by Fisk.
What this show has an advantage on that I feel Iron Fist or even Jessica Jones didn’t is the drama that happens within the legal system.
In the other shows, the narrative told is very much character-driven, for example Jones investigating into a case or Rand trying to redeem his name after being away for too long. But Daredevil capitalises on Murdock’s career as a lawyer, and thus we see the fight between him and Fisk go down both physically and legally.
You can’t make Wilson Fisk a physically over-powered villain. Sure, he is very powerful and strong, but there’s only so much you can do with him in a realistic environment. And thus you make him untouchable by the law, you write a great story around how Murdock is supposed to fight a villain that has wired an entire city to have his back.
Vincent D’Onofrio’s performance as the terrifying Wilson Fisk shines through in this season.
As with most of these shows, Marvel really knows how to humanise these characters over several episodes so we understand the complexities of the antagonists. This extends to Kilgrave too, who is one of my favourite villains of all time. Fisk is scary, powerful, but in some crazy way you can understand him. Maybe it’s a testament to how manipulative he can be even to the audience, or maybe it’s a testament to the great writing and acting. And when you pair a great villain with a great hero like Matt Murdock, you are bound to have great character conflict.
Having had thirty-nine nearly hour-long episodes, it’s easy to see how the writers are able to flesh out every character in the series. For the most part, they’re all likeable, they’re relatable, but they’re also flawed. And that’s something I find really genuine.
Let’s talk about Bullseye.
People who have seen the 2003 adaptation of Daredevil will be familiar with this dynamic before. Daredevil has to take down Kingpin and his assassin Bullseye. But I don’t feel the need to say that this version is much better. Because it is.
The best compliment I can give the character is that he’s scary. When he dons the new Daredevil suit, he really embodies the ‘devil’ title. And his skill set is so unbelievable it’s unsettling. There’s an awesome fight sequence that occurs in an office space which is just terrifying because he seems to have an unlimited number of sharp objects at his disposal to throw around.
Benjamin Poindexter is a sharp-shooter rogue FBI agent with a troubled past. After coming into contact with Fisk, he is misled to join Fisk and take down Murdock.
Now, the show does a phenomenal job at establishing his history and his psychotic/murderous tendencies over the course of several episodes. Wilson Bethel did an awesome job with the acting because I find this guy completely unhinged, and for a (more or less) super-powered villain that’s incredibly accurate with his shooting and throwing, that poses another scarily dangerous threat Daredevil to deal with.
There is one thing that I didn’t buy into unfortunately. The show spends a great deal in the first half slowly building up Poindexter as this unstable and insane agent, but up to a certain episode, it ramps up so quickly that he goes from unhinged agent to murdering vigilante over the span of minutes.
That’s more or less the only complaint I have for the show. Oh wait, I don’t particularly like Karen either. I don’t think she ever learns from her lessons in show, and so her character development seems to just go in circles. I hope in future they explore more into what she can become, because her character is definitely rife with interesting plot ideas and storylines. The writers just needs to make sure she has a powerful arc that I can get behind.
Did I forget to mention the action in this show? Because it’s one of, if not, the best thing that’s ever happened on TV history (maybe a stretch, but hear me out).
It’s gritty, it’s realistic and it’s well-choreographed.
If you won’t take my word for it, maybe a 14-minute long action scene done in one long take will convince you. To my knowledge, nothing of this scale has been done before in TV (if it has, do let me know in the comments) and I’d go so far as to argue that it’s one of the best things Marvel has ever accomplished.
We’ve come a long way with TV shows thanks to services like Netflix or digital filmmaking. Writers and producers are starting to see the value of shows like these and how much story you can convey to the audience thanks to Netflix.
Don’t get me wrong, films are obviously great. But there’s only so much you can convey in a short two-hour runtime. And with Netflix starting to get on the ball with complete ten to thirty hours of binge-worthy shows, I see a future of storytelling in entertainment like this.
Maybe it’s because people are more reluctant to go outside and pay to watch a film, or maybe it’s because most of our lives are spent staring into a computer screen at home. But the way I see it, it has really allowed Hollywood to hone in on creative talent and for filmmakers to tell a more fleshed-out narrative without the constraints of a two-hour runtime.
Marvel’s Daredevil: Season Three is one of the best pieces of entertainment out there today.
It’s rife with great characters, great action, a gripping narrative that has all the right elements to it. Frankly, I’m not surprised Netflix pulled the plug on Iron Fist or Luke Cage, but I really hope they take the time to explore their options because the Marvel shows are one of the most fleshed-out properties in the MCU.
There is so much potential here to tell a great story, and whether if it’s another season of The Defenders or even maybe a Heroes For Hire show, I just hope they play their cards right because Marvel is definitely redefining what it means to be a comic-book adaptation.