After Netflix announced it was cancelling Iron Fist and Luke Cage, things were not looking too hot for the Marvel/Netflix Universe. That was until the gem known as Daredevil Season 3 got released late October and took us back to Hell’s Kitchen. Filled with fantastic fight sequences, complex characters, and strategic easter eggs peppered in that can excite even the novice of Marvel fans, Daredevil season 3 is the best Daredevil yet, and reminds us that Netflix CAN turn out good Marvel content!

The new season has its regular stars return; Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, and Eldon Henson as Daredevil (Matt Murdoch), Karen Page, and Foggy Nelson, respectively. We also get to see some fresh faces who brings nothing short of great acting to their compelling character arc such as Joanne Whalley (Maggie Grace), Jay Ali (Agent Ray Nadeem), Wilson Bethel (Dex Poindexter/Bullseye), and Stephen Rider (Blake Tower). After the franchises of The Defenders, and Iron Fist flopped by reception standards, and season 2 of both Luke Cage and Jessica Jones didn’t quite capture the momentum and likability the first season brought, it was great to see that Marvel/Netflix decided to bring things back to the basics when it came to Daredevil season 3. Not only did it not having a cameo from the other Netflix/Marvel/ABC/Freeform properties (focussing the season entirely on Matt Murdoch’s Daredevil crisis), but we got to see the return of the best villain Netflix has to offer: THE KINGPIN! Vincent D’Onofrio reprises his role as big bad Wilson Fisk, who is better now as Kingpin, and he brings the same dynamic and evilness that made the character so interesting to watch in season 1.

Story wise, this season was compelling and fresh, as it looked at a new angle of the alter-ego crisis, first presented in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. As opposed to not being Daredevil, Matt Murdoch is facing an existential crisis of whether or not the world needs ‘Matt Murdoch the lawyer’. This story takes place after the events of Marvel/Netflix’s The Defenders, and the last time we saw Matt Murdoch he was buried under a pile of gravel, definitely with some crushed bones. At the beginning of the season he is slowly recovering. But with his absence, his arch-semis (series wise) Wilson Fisk/Kingpin is still behind bars, and Foggy and Karen are moving progressively in their lives. This is the main theme and topic of the entire season: Daredevil’s fate. In context of the subplot, the audience gets to see the humanity and ‘soft-side’ of Kingpin, as his main goal is to bring his former lover, Vanessa, back to the U.S. To do that, he sells out all of his former crime associates and ‘gang members.’ With that said, he befriends FBI agent Ray Nadeem, and the story just gets more interesting. Throughout the entire season we see the relationship between the ‘ex’ criminal and the ‘true-to-self’ FBI agent build, and even cement to a friendship with value when Wilson Fisk/Kingpin decides not to kill Nadeem when he has the chance. Unfortunately for Nadeem, Fisk values Vanessa more and will do whatever she says…

Bullseye was well done. We see a way better use of the character, as opposed to his last outing in the unrelated 2003 Ben Affleck Daredevil. Bullseye was the ‘Elektra’ (so to speak) of season 3, with Fisk acting as season 3’s ‘The Hand’. Fisk was the big bad evil in the background, and Bullseye was the front and centre “you gotta get through me to get to him!” chess piece to protect Fisk from Daredevil. I thought it was unique to have Bullseye dress up in Daredevil’s red suit, as to me it symbolizes that Bullseye is truly to ‘anti’ Daredevil, as Venom is to Spider-Man. I am looking forward to see what Marvel/Netflix has in store for Bullseye, especially after that post credits scene. We see two surgeons performing an operation on Bullseye’s spine, since Daredevil snapped it like a toothpick. In the comics, Bullseye was known to have adamantium in his bones (the same metal as Wolverine), which basically made him indestructible, as adamantium is the strongest metal next to vibranium. This excites me because with the Marvel-Fox merging happening soon, adamantium could be well introduced into the  ‘vibranium-based’ MCU through Bullseye, which adds relevancy to these small screen shows, something that has been lacking since day 1.

The thing about fight scenes and action sequences is that it could make or break the overall product. Whether it be too much and the story logic gets compromised (Iron man 3), or too little and the story gets exhaustive and boring (Star wars: The Last Jedi). The fight scenes and action sequences in Daredevil season 3 were epic! Every fight scene was just bodies being tossed like bean bags. Both Daredevil and Bullseye had unique and eloquently choreographed fighting styles, adding to the ‘anti-Daredevil’ element. One scene that stood out to me was the prison fight scene. A 10-minute fight scene, no cuts! Something like that must be difficult to shoot, especially with the narrow hallways, and that deserves a standing ovation!  It ranks on the same spectrum as the boat fight in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and dare I say Thor’s entrance in Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War. Iron Man has his armour to fight, Captain America has his shield to help him in combat, and Daredevil strives with poorly lit hallways.

It isn’t a superhero/comic book show or movie these days without easter eggs! Daredevil does not fall short in any! First and foremost, we get to glimpse of a boxing match poster that had ‘Parker vs Morales‘ facing off against each other, which is a nod to everyone’s favourite friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man! Peter Parker and Miles Morales both helmed the role of Spider-Man in the comic books, but unfortunately they weren’t on the poster. It was just 2 random fighters who happen to have the same last names as the two. For the comic purists, Wilson Fisk also gets the chance to dawn his signature all-white suit from the comics, and he is actually referred to as ‘Kingpin’. We also get to see Foggy run fro D.A., which is a not to when he was an actual D.A. in the comics, and Bullseye lives in apartment 131, which is a nod to the issue number of Daredevil he was first introduced in. There are many more easter eggs, that I will leave for you to find as this is a must-watch! Unfortunately, there is no Stan Lee cameo of any sorts.

Daredevil Season 3 is mouthwash not only for the disappointing products Netflix has been uploading recently, but for the 2003 Daredevil movie as well.

When you really think of it, this is a better job done at Ben Affleck’s Daredevil movie, as both stories had Bullseye and Kingpin. The only difference is, one had more character development time to establish and incorporate a dynamic between the three and character trope for each of the three. This was a satisfying conclusion to Kingpin and Daredevil rivalry, which was fitting and well-timed, before it became an exhaustive ‘cat and mouse’ storyline for future seasons. This season was truly incredible, to the point words can only do so much justice. The character arcs, the storytelling, and the fight scenes are all interwoven to compliment the main theme: does Hell’s Kitchen need Matt Murdoch? If you are still on board with the Marvel/Netflix Universe, or whether you want some (potential) closure before you call it quits on following along, Daredevil  season 3 is one for the watchlist.

Grade: A+

Vishal Lilman

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