Any followers of my blog or reviews can attest that I love the Marvel cinematic universe. With only one or two mediocre exceptions, nearly every film has been excellent, and at the bare minimum, very watchable with some (Winter Soldier) being examples of top-tier filmmaking. Never let it be said that I am a Marvel fanboy, however, as the same cannot be said for the television incarnations. From Agents of Shield to Iron Fist to Luke Cage, I’ve found the majority to be bland, lengthy, and just not compelling. With one exception:
From the very beginning, this show has been scintillating, and an example of how to do everything correctly, paired with one of the most underrated and unique heroes of the Marvel pantheon. The success of the first two seasons hinges on a match made in heaven (literally), the combination of one of the only Catholic superheroes and a writer, Drew Goddard, that was raised Catholic as well. The internal and external struggles of Matt Murdock vacillating back and forth between himself and Daredevil is given more depth than most superhero characters, due to his religious conflicts and self-doubt. The paring of writer/character was already a recipe for success, but then every subsequent decision, that of casting Vincent D’Onofrio as the Kingpin, Wilson Fisk and Jon Bernthal as The Punisher, Frank Castle took the previous two seasons to another level. Could Season 3 deliver the Hat Trick and live up to the last two? Let’s find out.
Right out of the gate, we find out that Wilson Fisk is back, and getting out of jail. Usually, regurgitating villains and plot points is a bad idea, but they have done such a great job writing and building Fisk, that you want to see him again. Vincent D'Onofrio delivers once again, and appears suitably imposing and intelligent, proving what we learned in season one, that his casting was brilliant. I sensed early on that he would not be the sole villain; that there would be another, and the only question was, who in the Daredevil rogues gallery would be compelling enough, that we haven’t seen yet? For followers of the comics, it would become evident very quickly who that villain would be. In true Daredevil fashion, we are treated to a slow, effective build of an iconic Daredevil villain, the one who is second only to the Kingpin himself in being a thorn in the side of Matt Murdock over the years. Wilson Bethel is cast as Benjamin Poindexter, the FBI agent who will eventually become the primary antagonist to Daredevil, the uncannily accurate and suitably psychopathic Bullseye. Bethel delivers a fantastic performance and does a great job portraying someone with a severe mental illness that is unraveling by the moment. Watching him drift back and forth from stable to breaking, sometimes within a few moments, is exceptional acting and writing, and his conflicts with Murdock are very well executed.
Speaking of well executed, once again Daredevil delivers some of the best choreography you will ever see on TV, including long tracking shots with no camera cuts, and hits that feel appropriately brutal. All three primary characters get multiple incredible fight scenes, each perfectly encapsulating their characters. From Fisk’s overwhelming power to Poindexter’s physics-defying accuracy, we see some of the best fight structures this side of The Raid, one of the finest action movies ever made. There is one particular fight sequence that is 11 minutes long with no camera cuts, which is very impressive for a scene of that caliber. I won’t spoil a few things, but suffice it to say that the groundwork has been laid for many future conflicts that have the potential to be even better than we see here. So far, we have it all, great writing, casting, fighting, so what then are the negatives, can anything drag this show back down to reality?
A few things, first, the pacing. The show is too long and gets off track for long periods of time. 13 episodes are just too many, as I’ve long been a fan of 10 episode seasons. Ten has always felt like the right number for keeping the writers in check and providing the proper density of interesting interactions. I’ve seen very few dramas that could maintain quality longer than ten episodes per season, and 13 is really pushing it, so one can expect a few moments to drag on a bit too long. There are also sections where you almost forget the show is called Daredevil, as they spend an inordinate amount of time delving into some ancillary character’s backstory. Part of the reason the show is so great is the character development, but at the same time, the viewer does not need too much information that isn’t relevant, which is what happens on more than one occasion. Also, there are a couple of plot twists that pop up out of nowhere, that don’t make much sense, which is again a problem with shows that have too many episodes: writers have to stretch the runtime artificially.
Those nitpicks aside, Daredevil Season 3 is incredible, just like the first two were. In addition to all the praise I’ve heaped upon it, it is refreshingly devoid of liberal bullshit, like seemingly every show coming out of Hollywood these days is infested with. Not only is religion not portrayed as backward and hateful, as it was in Apostle, but as an integral reason as to why Daredevil is the hero that he is. I for one have loved all three seasons, and I hope we get a season four, as there is still plenty of gold to mine from the characters, given their stellar writing in the comics over the years. Luke Cage and Iron Fist got canceled, so let’s all hope that the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen does not suffer the same fate, and comes back around for round 4.
Score: 8.5/10 - Essential
Liberal Bullshit Meter- 0/10
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Steve is the author of Forging the Iron Mind, and is the founder and CEO of Americana Prime.