Having binged through season three of Marvel’s Daredevil, streaming now on Netflix, we can safely establish that a more perfect comic book TV adaptation is yet to be made. With enough thrills to bait even the most sceptical non-superhero audience, Daredevil’s latest season is a masterclass in sublime screenwriting and groundbreaking action. The fact that this is coming at a time when Netflix and Disney-Marvel seem to be going their separate ways, what with Iron Fist and Luke Cage both getting cancelled, is ironic and quite sad. So, if you’re still on the fence, here are four reasons why you should be clicking play on the show as soon as possible:
The excellent cast: Returning and new
The first few episodes see Matthew Cox’s Matt Murdock/Daredevil recovering from the events of season two (aka a literal building falling on him) and battling a crisis in faith at the old church where he was raised when his father died, leaving him an orphan. Giving him company is Joanne Whally’s Sister Grace, a new character, who takes it upon herself to nurse the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen back to health. The banter between the two as they discuss religion, faith and morality is pretty much what lights up the screen until Daredevil begins to feel like himself again. Whally’s performance is sublime and restrained, and if you’ve read the comics you know where this iconic character is heading.
Jay Ali’s FBI special agent Rahul ‘Ray’ Nadeem is another great addition to the cast.
Regulars Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll as Matt’s best friends Foggy Nelson and Karen Page deliver elevated performances, especially since they get to grow beyond their sidekick roles to carve out their own little space. Woll’s Page especially flourishes and we’re finally allowed to root for her as the tortured journalist, always speaking truth to power.
Daredevil’s at his miserable best
If there was a contest for the most brooding superhero in comic book history, Daredevil would win hands down. The man’s so miserable, even Batman looks like a single-man fiesta next to him. Season three, loosely based on Frank Miller’s superlative Daredevil run Born Again, digs deep into the desolation well to put Murdock/Daredevil through the wringer. If you remember, season two ended with the death of his on-again-off-again lover Elektra (Elodie Young) and the aforementioned building falling on him, which means our superhero can’t superhero too well at this point. But Daredevil hitting rock bottom was exactly what the show needed to bring back some of the emotional gravitas that was lost in season two’s more clinical The Hand arc. And the more angrier and lost Daredevil is, the more dangerous he gets.
Wilson Fisk (played by the incomparable Vincent D’Onfrio) returns after season one to show us why the character is so beloved and feared in equal turns. Having moved out of prison after making a deal with the FBI, Fisk is nearly invincible. For the first time, audiences get a peek into how the nefarious mob boss manages to always stay two steps ahead of his competition and his nemesis Daredevil. And this time around, he’s taking no prisoners. D’Onfrio’s take on the character — one part brute force and three parts controlled fury — is a glorious thing to behold. A confrontation between Fisk and Page, played out in a sinister tete-a-tete, is a great example of how D’Onfrio manages to convey Fisk’s villainy, sans fists or force.
But Fisk doesn’t hoard all the limelight in this season, giving way to another classic character from Daredevil’s rogues’ gallery — Bullseye. A beautiful almost-flashback-like episode sees the evolution of Benjamin Pointdexter (Wilson Bethel) from a troubled juvenile to FBI sniper to the famed villain who never misses a target. While Bethel himself is not as memorable in the role, the character comes to life with the excellent writing and the importance they give to shining a light on his mental health. Some of Bullseye’s most unhinged moments lead to the best fight scenes in the show.
Speaking of fight scenes...
For those of you who are coming to Daredevil for the action, you won’t be disappointed. The season packs some of the best fight sequences that seem to directly leap off the pages of your favourite comic books onto your screen. The now traditional one-shot “hallway” take makes its assured appearance in episode four when Murdock has to fight his way out of a prison, just as a riot breaks out. The 11-minute-long sequence exceeds in its frenetic energy and visceral buzz of season one’s iconic three-minute hallway sequence and season two’s five-minute stairwell shot.
Then there are the Bullseye vs Daredevil scenes where the latter is forced to get creative and we see Murdock being forced to go back to his boxing roots to get an advantage over his sharp shooter nemesis. Moving away from the martial arts-based fighting style from the previous seasons, here we see Murdock get up close and personal because the stakes have never been this high.
Don’t miss it
Daredevil season three is now streaming on Netflix.