Daredevil, season 3 shows why it is still the king of Netflix’s little corner of the MCU, despite the crowning of Luke Cage in his final episode. Daredevil returns to our screens with some of the best writing, directing and acting of all of Netflix’s MCU offerings. Eve and I binged it to bring you our impressions of the most “Christian” hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
In the previous two seasons of Daredevil, as well as one short season of The Defenders, Matt struggled to balance the two personalities he had become. He was Matthew Murdock, compassionate attorney for the underprivileged, and The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, a preternaturally observant martial artist dedicated to bringing the criminal enterprises of Hell’s Kitchen to justice. Throw in one exceptionally crazy, recently resurrected ex-girlfriend and mix. The end result is Matt sacrificing himself to keep a great evil from escaping into the world.
Even though God isn’t done with Matt, Matt is done with God…and with Matthew Murdock. In this season, we follow as Matt comes to terms with the single personality that is both lawyer and defender. With the help of his friends, it can be done.
Fair warning: Season 3 is 11 hours and 9 minutes in length, with each episode averaging just shy of 52 minutes. So if you haven’t watched it yet, don’t read or listen on! We jump right into the spoiler laden discussion, and there are quite a few reveals in this season for both hardcore Daredevil fans like Eve and casual fans like myself! Even if you normally don’t mind spoilers, you might reconsider.
The Pros and The Cons
Charlie Cox continues to bring exceptional craft to the roll of blind Matthew Murdock. The way he prepared and portrays the character with his disabilities and heightened senses continues to astound and please us. We’re not the only ones, either. Cox was honored at the American Foundation for the Blind’s 19th Annual Helen Keller Achievement Awards for his portrayal of the visually challenged Matthew Murdock.
We’re also please with the showrunners taking us back to Karen’s initial reaction to learning that Matt is Daredevil. It was disappointing to have been denied that scene between two of the three series leads, and to have it included at the start of season three after seemingly skipping over it in The Defenders was refreshing.
By the way, it was Colin Farrell who played Bullseye in the 2003 Ben Affleck movie version of Daredevil.
The season included a significant number of source material nods, things that only those who have read the Daredevil story arc, Born Again are going to pick up. We recommend picking it up and checking it out. It’d be interesting to contrast and compare the two media formats!
Character development is a major part and major pro of Season 3. We were privy to Karen Page’s backstory, which the preceding episodes only hinted at. We meet Foggy’s family in their deli business, and see how even they have been manipulated. (Frankly, the implications of Fisk’s foresight is *also* bordering on supernatural.) Finally, we get exceptional development for several characters that are introduced primarily for season 3, like Dexter and Ray.
Acting chops are on display from pretty much everyone on the screen, but Cox’s mastery of Murdock is easily equaled, if not surpassed by D’Onofrio’s fantastic Wilson Fisk. The level of intensity and depth he brings to this mastermind psychopath crime lord is outstanding. What’s better is the sort of gestalt that you get when two really good actors share a scene; alone, they are good, or maybe even great, but together, the screen sizzles with creative energy.
The writing on this series has always been good, but this season has raised the bar significantly. The story symmetry and bookending of themes is skillfully done and provides a sense of satisfaction that you often can’t get with episodic media.
Continuing with the high production standards is the wonderfully fitting music by John Paesano. (I couldn’t find the album on Amazon, but here is a link to it on Spotify.) Interestingly, John Paesano also did the score for the recent Spider-Man game on the PS4, a game I mention in the podcast and have really been enjoying. Enough to play through it a second time. Now I’m going to be listening for similarities in style.
The final pro we want to mention—and the coolest in my opinion—was the pre-release social media marketing campaign that would tweet a Daredevil media file and a scripture reference with no other context. Granted, it may be appropriating the scripture out of ITS context, but if God uses that to get someone to crack open the Word of God, then we say it’s a good thing! Eve made a note of each of the verses used. Here they are. If you want to know what these verses say, we’ll let you do it the old fashioned way: John 12:40, Romans 12:21, Isaiah 1:17, Job 12:22, Job 30:26, Deuteronomy 30:15, Romans 2:8, Daniel 9:5, 1 Kings 14:9, and Matthew 5:4. These are particularly appropriate for Daredevil given Matthew Murdock’s deep struggle with his Catholic faith in the face of the evil he encounters in both aspects of his life.
So, you’ll notice we didn’t really have much by way of the cons here, but that’s because there really aren’t any to speak about. The only con I had was actually one of personal preference and not at all a reflection on the show. I had some things I didn’t like, but they were all because I wasn’t supposed to like them, and that is a sign of a job well done.
Both protagonist Matthew Murdock and antagonist Benjamin “Dex” Poindexter share backstory parallels in this season. This particular one gives us another portrayal of the effects of childhood abandonment on character development. In both cases, each character latches onto the created rather than Creator, resulting in imperfect direction and support. Dex latches on to two different women as his “North Star” at different stages in his life, but neither was any more than tangentially invested in his day to day existence. The result was a very thin appearance of normalcy as long as he maintains a structured life, but as soon as he encountered situations beyond the control of his structure or the presumed guidance of his North Star, his very psyche began to crumble. (It doesn’t help that the man is an out-and-out psychopath, either.)
Matt suffers from his abandonment as well, though his anchoring in Catholicism does result in a more stable upbringing, though not all that healthy. His doubt and struggles lead him to question core Catholic beliefs, and his broken state ushers in a suicide attempt despite its classification as a mortal sin. For Matt, the comfort was as much, or more, in the structure of the Catholic faith rather than [what should be] the focus of the faith: God. Don’t get us wrong, when he attempted to get those thugs to kill him, Matt was at a rock bottom that few see outside of Hollywood.
I’ve always been interested in the accepted trope of the abandoned orphan in so much of our storytelling, in every medium. It is a part of our social conscious that a child who loses one or both of their parents is at greater risk for developmental issues than those in standard homes. Despite this, we find that our everyday society continues to push towards the non-traditional family as being perfectly acceptable.
I Am Not Job
Early in the season, Matt compares his life to that of Job and coming to the premature conclusion that compared to Job, he rocks. Where Job was the unwilling recipient of some horrendous things, Matt took them on willingly, believing himself to be the soldier of God, and the hardships a necessary burden in the execution of his divine duties. “No any more,” Matt declares. Matthew Murdock, the divinely inspired social warrior, is gone.
“I am what I do in the dark now… I bleed only for myself.”
The story of Job is a tough one to wrap your head around, let alone wrap your heart around. It’s nearly impossible for someone without the Spirit to truly appreciate; our suffering on this Earth is part of our witness for good or bad. There are horrible things that happen to us and around us that will serve to bring glory to God.
As a side note, I was raised in a couple different denominations. Before encountering this recollection in this season of Daredevil, followed by Eve and my subsequent conversation, I don’t think it ever occurred to me that God might have been the primary agent behind the trials of Job rather than simply giving Satan permission to test Job. Even post recording, I still can’t consider the issue decided. Eve made some good points, but I can’t get around verses like Job 1:12,
“‘Very well,’ the Lord told Satan, ‘everything he owns is in your power. However, do not lay a hand on Job himself.’ So Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (Job 1:12)
I was ready to point out how Hollywood twisted the story of Job to make God the bad guy, like so many unbelievers are wont to do. But I was surprised to hear Eve subscribe to the same interpretation! Not only that, but she makes a great argument for it to reinforce her faith!
But that is the point, isn’t it—the established lessons of scripture may mean different things to different people, but it is always consistent in pointing to Christ and God’s glory.
God Speaks in Whispers
So, back to Matthew Murdock.
Matt has gone from believing he was a divine tool in God’s hands to believing he could refuse to serve God’s purpose. In both extremes of this delusion, he made himself the determining factor, rather than God. He served God because he wanted to. He stopped serving God because he wanted to. In both viewpoints, he is placing his will over that of God’s; requiring that God ultimately serve his desires, not the other way around.
This isn’t the will of God though, as demonstrated in Joshua 5:13 and 14:
“When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua approached him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’
‘Neither,’ he replied. ‘I have now come as commander of the Lord’s army.’
Then Joshua bowed with his face to the ground in worship and asked him, ‘What does my lord want to say to his servant?'” (Job 5:13-14)
God does not stand with us, but we stand for God. In modern political parlance, God doesn’t support the Republican or the Democrat parties. The political parties of the United States need to stand for God. We need to listen for the whispers of God, and we can’t hear them if we are too busy shouting out what we think God’s will should be.
So how do we know when God is speaking to us? Well, the clearest way is to read God’s Word. His Word is the final litmus for any perceived spiritual guidance. If the guidance you believe you have received is inconsistent with the message of the Word, then it is not from God.
A Beautiful Tapestry
Near the very end of the season, there is a “and the moral of the story is” moment where Matthew relates a story from his childhood to Sister Maggie:
“He told me something years ago, when this happened, that I never forgot. See, I was pretty angry at God and bitter towards his world. How could a loving God blind me? Why? Anyway, he told me… God’s plan is like a beautiful tapestry. And the tragedy of being human is we only get to see if from the back. With all the ragged threads and the muddy colors. And we only get a hint at the true beauty that would be revealed if we could see the whole pattern on the other side, as God does. Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently because I realize I’ve made some bad choices and hurt people that I love without meaning to…I realize that if my life had turned out any differently, that I would never have become Daredevil. Although people have died on my watch, people who shouldn’t have, there are countless others that have lived. So, maybe it is all part of God’s plan. Maybe my life has been exactly as it had to be.”
While not ideal in its theology, the sentiment of this story is still important, and speaks to one of my keystone verses:
“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
It’s tough to accept that we may not know in this life what good will come from from
As much as Matt’s declaration about Job in episode one is his “mission statement” for his state at the beginning of the series, this tapestry metaphor really sums up the growth that he’s achieved through the course of this season. Matt has come to terms with who he is in this world, and to a lesser extent, who God is.
Even since we’ve recorded, more rumors fly regarding the future of the Daredevil and Jessica Jones series on Netflix. I think any network would kill to have writing and acting this good, but the upcoming as-yet-unnamed Disney streaming service and Disney’s announcement that they were not going to lease out any Marvel properties has really helped to muddy the waters of the Netflix MCU future. If that’s how this plays out, and they make no more seasons of Netflix’s Daredevil, season 3’s ending is so solid a satisfactory ending that we would not grieve. All is not right with the world, but our heroes are better equipped to deal with their troubles than they ever have been before. They are content and everything important has been resolved. It’s not a fairy-tale ending.
It’s a superhero one.
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