In the wake of 2017’s Marvel-Netflix crossover mini-series “The Defenders”, each of the series’ individual heroes have returned for the second season of their respective solo series. With season two of “Jessica Jones”, “Luke Cage”, and “Iron Fist” down, the time has finally come for the return of the one that started it all, “Daredevil”!
Unlike his fellow Defenders, however, The Man Without Fear already has two superb seasons of his solo series in the can (check out our thoughts on the first and second seasons, if you haven’t already), with season three set to drop on Netflix next week on October 19th. Here at KFK we’ve had the immense privilege of seeing the first six episodes of season three, and you know what that means – get ready to leap across rooftops with the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen once again, readers, as here comes KFK’s first impressions of “Daredevil”: Season Three!
With the apparent death of Daredevil at the end of “The Defenders”, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones continue to protect the streets of New York City, while Karen Page and Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, who knew him by his alter-ego of Matt Murdock, mourn the loss of their friend. Unbeknownst to them all, Matt survived the building collapse that they believed killed him, and is nursed back to health with the help of a local priest and nuns who are aware of his double life as Daredevil.
The ordeal has left Matt physically and mentally broken, but with his old enemy Wilson Fisk continuing to manipulate New York’s criminal underworld from behind bars, Matt returns to his life as The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen once more. Meantime, while Karen and Foggy gradually grow more hopeful that their friend is still alive, Fisk recruits a skilled assassin in his plot to turn the people of New York against Daredevil once and for all.
Much to the delight of “Daredevil” fans, season three takes a great deal from Frank Miller’s famed “Born Again” story arc, with our hero returning to the series a broken man and one for whom even his devout Catholic faith has begun to waver.
It bears repeating that, with the sheer power of his performance as Matt Murdock, Charlie Cox IS Daredevil, and season three sees him maybe hit his greatest stride in the role by embodying Matt at his lowest point. Losing his old flame Elektra in “The Defenders” and having his body broken to the point where even his ever-reliable super-senses need to be repaired, Matt descends into a literal hell where he himself is The Devil. Even his classic red-horned suit is cast aside for a return to the blind ninja garb that served as his primary attire for the bulk of season one. It’s ultimately emblematic of how much Matt has fallen and how much the thematic arc of season three revolves around our hero re-emerging from the ground up. That, and the blind ninja suit is never not welcome in a Daredevil story if you catch my drift!
The supporting cast of “Daredevil” remain as strong as ever, and nowhere is that better exemplified than in Vincent D’Onofrio’s return as Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin, who continues to reign supreme as the MCU’s greatest villain. The first six episodes of season three keep his notorious temper unusually in check, and with this being a guy who once decapitated one of his enemies with a car door, the thought of what he might do next time he snaps always looms over every scene he’s in. However, the first half of season three places more focus on The Kingpin’s methodical side – his internal machinations to essentially move into a penthouse while continuing to serve his sentence, his ongoing manipulation of the outside world to ensure that Manhattan is his for the taking when he gets out, and most of all, his talent for recruiting heavy hitters to his side.
Yes, Daredevil fans, season three sees the debut of a certain enemy of our hero who shall remain nameless for those not already in the know, other than to say that seeing how good he’s been in the first half of the season, the latter half is doubtlessly going to continue the hot streak of sensational evildoers on Netflix’s Marvel shows!
This brings us to the extensive martial arts action of season three, and there’s really no better way to put it, the fight sequences of “Daredevil” just keep getting better and better. Seeing Matt whip himself back into fighting form gives way to some appropriately rockier action set pieces to start the season out with. These include Matt putting on a pair of boxing gloves for a sparring match as he finally gets back on his feet, and really thinking about it, no superhero is more appropriately suited for pure boxing than Daredevil.
Matt’s first couple of skirmishes on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen also test him in new ways, while his body still mends itself, his spirit refuses to sit on the sidelines. Just seeing Matt quite literally back in black not only harkens back to the greatest hits of season one, but also gives the action of season three a kind of grassroots feel that really works after seeing him don the red horns and cross paths with his fellow Defenders.
Of course, it ain’t “Daredevil” without a single-shot hallway smackdown, and season three serves up the most elaborate version of this series’ staple set piece yet. One thing that’s kept the show fresh is the consistent reinvention of this particular element of the show to serve the theme being utilized at the time. Season one’s hallway battle saw Matt as the underdog, battling a half-dozen enemies while barely able to stand, with the pain of cracked ribs and a knife wound making every punch thrown as excruciating for him as for the recipient. Season two flipped the script completely, with Matt armed with a chain, fighting in his prime, and rampaging like a bull in a china shop plowing through dozens of enemies in a stairway. The hallway brawl in “The Defenders” brought the team-up element into the equation, and had Matt battling The Hand alongside Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist.
For season three’s hallway fight bonanza, Matt finds himself facing his enemies not as Daredevil, but as Matt Murdock, and having to do so while battling the effects of a partial sedative injection into his bloodstream. Oh, and did I mentioned that it also happens to take place during a prison riot? With Matt’s ability to stay conscious gradually becoming compromised, the choreography takes on an almost pro-wrestling feel, with Matt putting every tool in his encompassing environment to use as a bludgeoning weapon, and dishing out kicks that wouldn’t look out-of-place on WWE Raw.
It’s easily the longest of the one-shot battles the series has served up thus far, with even a pause taken for the hashing out of some necessary plot details. It leaves your mind reeling at just how they think they can possibly outdo the series’ staple action sequence next time around, short of making an entire episode out of it!
As hard as it may be to believe, however, season three also marks the first season of “Daredevil” with an action sequence to rival the show’s traditional hallway battles. Coming at the end of episode six, it sees Matt trying to protect Foggy, Karen, and the staff of the New York Bulletin from The Kingpin’s killer for hire. With the lights throughout the office out and Matt hopping from one cubicle to the next trying to dodge his foes’ attacks, in a cat-and-mouse game that’s right out of the “Predator” playbook of blending blood-curdling suspense with heart-stopping action.
While not captured in a single shot, the sequence is a compendium of several tracking shots that allow the viewer to fully absorb the action in its bloody totality, and make no mistake about the bloody part (one of our combatants walks away from the fight with a pair of scissors embedded in his shoulder). It also sets up the latter half of season three as a nail-biter if ever there’s been one on “Daredevil”. We know by the end that not only is Matt going to have to face his adversary again, but The Kingpin himself, as well – and it will be under circumstances The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen has never had to face before.
Six episodes into Season Three, and “Daredevil” continues to hit the bull’s eye as a superhero series that simply refuses not to wow you with every season. Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio slay it once again as our titular hero and his ruthless arch-enemy, while the supporting cast is equally sharp, especially Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll as the always conflicted but morally upright Foggy and Karen.
Fans of “Daredevil” comics will also relish the “Born Again” influences and the series’ action sequences are not only still among the best on the small screen, but the consistently amazing hallway battle finally has a challenger for the season’s best set piece. With a start this strong in its first half, for whatever the tail-end of season three has to offer, fans of “Daredevil”, like our hero himself, should have no fear!
“Daredevil” Season 3 is set to drop on Netflix in a week on October 19th. Excited to see it and how DD’s finely-tuned fighting skills come to life? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram.
Can’t get enough of superhero fighting? Then check out “Iron Fist” Season 2 and our interview with the show’s stellar fight choreographer, Clayton Barber. (And now we present…a Kitchen full of FU(flix) just for you!)