What if I told you that Daredevil Season 3 would feature a resurrected-from-the-dead Matt Murdock, the return and rise of the true Kingpin, and the introduction of a pathological Bullseye — but that they would all take a backseat to… Agent Nadeem?
And therein lies the problem with all of the speculation claiming that Disney might bring Daredevil in its current incarnation to its streaming service. The Marvel Netflix shows, Daredevil included (sadly), are trending in the wrong direction.
It’s time we all just accept that these shows have entered hospice care, and that it’s truly for the best.
And, really, this opinion has nothing to do with the politics in play. When Netflix followed up its somewhat predictable cancellation of the uneven Iron Fist series with a surprise ax for fan-favorite Luke Cage, the writing was on the wall.
With Disney+ on the horizon, Netflix was done selling a competitor’s brand. We’d all have to settle for looking back on this era with fond memories of the days when gritty, grounded versions of street-level Marvel heroes fully captivated us by safeguarding a few New York neighborhoods with expert aplomb.
Cue the clickbait “You know you’re a 2010s kid if you ever..” articles where the first entry could read “binge-watched an entire Marvel Netflix show in one night.”
And my initial gut reaction: It might just be better to let these versions of the characters fade away and start over with a new cast and new creators overseeing the vision.
I said as much on a SuperBroMovies podcast episode that was lost to the ether due to my own ineptitude with a digital recorder. That was back before the third season of Daredevil even dropped. And also before any details for Disney+ were announced publicly. At that point, any of those shows could be continued under the Disney umbrella.
Theoretically, they still could be. The executive handling Disney’s acquisition of Fox admitted to the Hollywood Reporter last month — in his shortest answer of the entire interview — that “it’s possible.”
And that tiny glimmer is enough to keep hope alive for the multitude of fans out there who don’t want to bury a piece of their own identity and are signing petitions to prove it. Ideally, gut aside, I’d be with them. For my money, the first season of Daredevil was the best show on TV. I still challenge people to watch the first two episodes of season 1, punctuated by that epic hallway fight, and defy getting hooked.
Season 2 maintained the high standards, deftly introducing Jon Bernthal’s pitch-perfect Punisher and giving us an Electra-Matt origin and love story good enough to wipe away the memory of the cringe-worthy Jennifer Garner film version.
But now, after watching the entirety of Daredevil Season 3 and considering my reactions of the other recent seasons of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, I am sad to say my initial gut reaction was the truth.
Jessica Jones lost all her momentum during a second season that suffered from having no true big bad. That, and you’ve gotta really LOVE the direction they went with Trish to enjoy that season even a little bit.
Most of what I remember from the second season of Luke Cage were those really awkward scenes with Shades and Mariah. Every time they were together, I couldn’t help but think, “nobody talks like that.” Their melodrama was a tonal shift from just about everything else in the series and jarred me out of the experience. Credit is due for Bushmaster though.
As for Iron Fist, the second season was an improvement on the first. But that ending, I still don’t really understand it. Is Colleen the Iron Fist? Or is Danny also the Iron Fist — but with guns? Actually, I don’t even want to know.
And now on to Daredevil. I’ll preface by saying there is some really brilliant material to like in the third season. Introducing Bullseye as a supernaturally physically gifted psych patient and showing the obsessive personality and fragile mindset from his point of view was genius. Fisk’s endgame, becoming the ultimate extortionist and getting fat off his FBI racket, really brought the comic book Kingpin into the real world unlike any other adaptation. And nothing I’ve seen this year had my adrenaline pumping more than the fight at the newspaper office.
Still, so much else left me scratching my head.
So Matt just falls out of the sewer one day. That’s it? No explanation offered after a building fell on top of him in The Defenders miniseries. Being that it’s the first thing we see, and considering I truly love the first two seasons of Daredevil, I quickly and easily suspended disbelief, but by the end of the series, it was just another nitpick on an extensive list.
The mystery of Karen and her brother is finally revealed, and he died in a car flip while Karen was driving. It truly was an accident. But the show treats the event as if she deserves to go to prison and the Kingpin uses it for leverage. She wasn’t driving impaired. And, honestly, her brother looked mostly dead from an unrelated beating before the wreck even happened.
Speaking of Karen, she also admits to killing James Wesley. And? Foggy tells her it was clearly defensible as self-preservation. But she lets it drag her down the whole season. Could she regret it? Sure. But she killed a rotten gangster who certainly wasn’t going to let her go alive.
Most of the time we spent with Karen really had me wondering what I was doing with my life. I was trying to remember when I signed up to watch a streaming show called Karedevil.
Hyperbole aside, the real main character of the season is FBI agent Ray Nadeem. Honestly, his storyline is well done as a patsy for Fisk who rises up by the end to topple the Kingpin’s empire. It would have been really compelling had I seen it on, I don’t know, FBI or Quantico or Criminal Minds or The Blacklist… But in a show called Daredevil, I’m here for Matt.
Because Matt is estranged from his crew for most of the season and the creators felt a duty to develop everyone’s storyline equally, too often I kept asking myself, “what’s up with Daredevil?” when we were delving deep on Foggy, Karen and Nadeem — even moreso as I crept toward the end of the season and was still hungry for almost any kind of Daredevil action.
To compound the Matt withdrawals, instead of him ever donning the red costume, Bullseye wears it at every crucial turn in an imposter storyline that totally works but combined with the other issues also exacerbates some of my frustrations.
There are logical issues, too. Early in the season, Fisk fingers Matt Murdock as his mob fixer. That puts the FBI on Matt’s tail to the point where he has to negotiate his surrender. But after that newspaper showdown, it’s as if everyone just forgot he was wanted. It’s never again an issue, even when he shows up publicly to represent Agent Nadeem in his plea deal to flip on Fisk.
Where was Matt laying low? In the cathedral basement? Really? The entire time? We don’t spend enough time with him to know. Sometimes, he’s little more than a ghost. At one point, he’s in a well-stocked boxing gym that conveniently seems completely abandoned in broad daylight.
Shifting gears, who leaves a bunch of murdered bodies indefinitely in the walk-in freezer of an abandoned building? Why would the walk-in freezer in an abandoned building be turned on? That’s a lot of electricity cost for a loose end. Whatever happened to sleeping with the fishes? C’mon, Fisk, you’re better than that.
And that final scene. The bullseyes on Bullseye’s eyes. That’s bull.
Nevermind that jump-the-shark image and the laws of physics. Why is a surgery patient slamming open his eyes like that? It didn’t look like the surgery was anywhere near over. He’s sedated. His entire spine is exposed. If those surgeons can’t get the anesthesia right, they’ve got no chance curing his paralysis.
With that final image burned into my eyes (badum tss), I found myself feeling glad this was the end. The Foggy, Matt and Karen storyline reached a natural conclusion. It makes sense.
I didn’t hate Daredevil Season 3. It wasn’t terrible. It was probably even good in the grand scheme of TV. I just didn’t like it. It didn’t live up to the expectations set in two previous seasons and The Defenders. The same could be said for both Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. And I’m willing to wager we’ll all be saying the same about the upcoming season of The Punisher.
Give it a couple of years and let Marvel Studios reboot these characters, either on Disney+ or at cinemas. Either way, I trust with Kevin Feige & Co.’s track record, they’ll be done well. That, and we’ll always have these Netflix shows to go back and watch. They exist. They were (mostly) excellent.
It’s always painful to watch a loved one die. The next generation also has a lot of potential.