The original Netflix superhero series returns for its third outing, and demonstrates the art of simplicity with a scaled-back, but nonetheless engaging, tale about vengeance, betrayal and manipulation.
Following his apparent death at the end of The Defenders in 2017, blind lawyer Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) proves to be very much alive, just in time to see his arch nemesis Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) released from prison. Matt becomes Daredevil once again, but rather than a crusader against injustice, he targets Kingpin directly, who is fully prepared for the attack. What follows is an all-out battle for Hell’s Kitchen as both go in for the kill, with shocking consequences.
“There is something to be said for the show’s ability to balance intriguing character study with impressive action sequences”
Of all of the Netflix superhero series, Daredevil has often been received with the most acclaim, and its third season very much sees it maintain this position. There is something to be said for the show’s ability to balance intriguing character study with impressive action sequences, which allow Daredevil to be both instantly watchable and ultimately rewarding. Despite being tonally similar to it’s first season, and taking inspiration from some of the more popular comic book storylines (most notably the beloved Born Again chapter), Season Three still feels incredibly fresh, and continues to tread new ground with plot, character and action.
“It’s this highly personal focus that makes the series unlike other superhero stories on-screen currently”
Donning his black vigilante suit, Daredevil’s return demonstrates a marked departure from what audiences have come to know him to be. The formerly pious but morally compromised Matt finally stops questioning himself, choosing instead to fulfil a very personal vendetta against Wilson Fisk (Kingpin). Indeed, it’s this highly personal focus that makes the series unlike other superhero stories on-screen currently, with all of the more typical superhero tropes fully grounded in personal decisions.
Daredevil’s stripped-back attire and style mirror Kingpin’s lavish situation, reinforcing the themes of duality in the series. Yet even Kingpin’s masterfully unnerving presence can’t match the arrival of fan-favourite enemy Bullseye. The master marksman blasts onto the screen in spectacular style and is responsible for more than a fair share of tightly-choreographed action sequences.
He really feels like a perfect match for Daredevil, and each scene that they share serve as some of the season’s real highlights. And when talking about action, it would be criminal not to mention the perennial ‘hallway fight’ – an incredibly realised 12-minute tracking shot that sees Daredevil attempting to escape a prison riot. The whole affair injects a much-needed sense of urgency to the early section of the series, which is successfully maintained for many of the following episodes.
“Matt’s own struggle with religion offers a fascinating parallel to Bullseye”
One of the themes most frequently explored and challenged in this latest season is blind faith. Matt’s own struggle with religion offers a fascinating parallel to Bullseye being led callously by Fisk to commit heinous acts of terror, and the idea of what Daredevil represents (both to the public and those closest to him) is torn apart. The courtroom drama of the past are suspended this time around, which means that Matt’s friends Karen and Foggy serve as the more emotional foils for Matt, along with Maggie – a mysterious nun from Matt’s past.
“Much like many 13-episode shows, Daredevil suffers from a meandering middle section”
The whole series isn’t perfect. A few plot lines, particularly into Karen’s past, feel a little contrived and breaks up the momentum of the wider plot. Similarly, much like many 13-episode shows, Daredevil suffers from a meandering middle section which seems like it’s simply stalling prior to the finale. But the show is bolstered by its lead performances, in particular Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio, and the incredible action choreography make Daredevil stand out from other superhero series and rise above them.
Featured Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment and Netflix via IMDb.