A QUICK LOOK: DOPE AF 9.7 out of 10: Gritty storytelling, socially relevant content, honest character development, insane fight scenes… perfectly Miller-esque. Only points docked are for quiet ending that couldn’t compete with wildly explosive middle. A MUST-SEE!
If you are a long time comic reader, or new to the comic book superhero world, you’re asking yourself: Should I watch Daredevil Season 3? Well I’m here to tell you that while Netflix hasn’t been entirely successful with it’s Superhero franchises, this is the one you’ve been waiting for.
The internet has been abuzz as the season 3 of Netflix’s Daredevil launched last Friday. Fans were pleasantly surprised by seasons 1 and 2, and how they delivered in drawing attention and interest to what has historically been one of Marvel’s B-list superheroes.
Maybe you’re not into superheroes. Maybe you are thinking to yourself, “What story could they possibly do that would feel personally and socially relevant to my experiences as a normal human being?” I mean, historically, the most famous superheroes have powers. They fight evil at night. They struggle to maintain relationships while living a double life of secrecy. But more importantly, unlike in real life, when they face an enemy, you as the viewer know they will succeed. They are the hero after all. Yet, real life is not reflective of that.
A Man without …SuperPowers?
But Daredevil season 3 packs more than a punch. It packs raw life and edge of your seat stakes as Daredevil faces off against enemies who are far more powerful than he is. This leaves you, the viewer, unsure of how the conflict can be resolved. Unsure whether it’s even possible for our hero to win. After all, Daredevil is blind. Unlike other superheroes who gain powers to become who they are, Daredevil’s power is defined by his disability by something he lost that inspires him to do better.
This is due in part, largely, to the story being based off of Frank Miller’s Daredevil comic books from the mid eighties. You may have heard his name- he’s the guy responsible for dark, violent mainstream titles like “300” and “Sin City.” Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil was gritty and humanized the characters to tell a raw story. While Netflix’s version doesn’t follow the story line perfectly, it takes that same Miller-esque storytelling style and boosts it to the next level. The characters are explored in-depth, and many of the topics that are expanded upon are atypical for Superhero styled cinema. Even if you’ve read Miller’s run of DD, this season still has some surprises for you!
I’ll break down some of the major aspects of the show that I personally found elevate the story beyond your typical hero. This is also SPOILER FREE so when you do choose to watch it, you can hone in on the details that make this season extraordinary!
I don’t find that many superheroes are representative of my everyday life and struggle. They seem to live outside of the realities of our world for the most part. After all, comics have long been a way to escape reality, not explore it. But season 3 of Daredevil does a great job of highlighting character conflicts that feel real.
One of this seasons characters, FBI agent Nadeem, finds himself struggling to get by. His sister-in-law was sick with cancer and lost her healthcare, and Nadeem is the one to pay for all the hospital treatments that save her life. But while the family celebrates her recovered health, Nadeem is crushed under the weight of medical debt. He is passed over for promotions at his job due to his financial hole. Then he can’t get the raise to help him pay off the debt. Also, the money causes contention in his personal relationships.
While Nadeem is an honorable man and honest character, his debt (the result of saving someone’s life) is now destroying him. This leaves him susceptible to bigger forces looking to corrupt.
Medical debt currently stands as the number one reason for personal bankruptcy filings in this country. It is bold for a show to highlight this growing problem in the U.S. where citizens have to choose between their health (and the lives of their families) and their livelihood.
As we watch politics consistently favor corporate interest over human interest there is an understanding that money and power trump morality and decency… and the law. As villain Kingpin makes illegal moves and violent actions as he progresses his evil plan, Matt Murdock proclaims that you can be too rich and powerful to be accountable to the law.
Indeed, every step our heroes try to make through proper accountability channels (like the news media, local police, FBI) the villains have found a way to buy themselves out of trouble. Their reach is quiet and pervasive.
When facing off against his empire, it feels like Kingpin is the villain that encapsulates how truly evil capitalism can be when not moderated. In typical NYC fashion, money talks. Money makes the rules and the poor are silently bulldozed by the plans of the powerful.
This season puts a lot of effort into exploring the complexities of mental health. It defines mental health as something to be pruned and moderated. That it involves a lot of choices. Distinct choices that the characters make more thoughtfully, rather than emotionally. One character is diagnosed as having psychotic tendencies, but spends years in therapy learning how to combat it. Therapy is not easy. And sticking to the therapy plan, harder still. When frustrated, this character is proactive against their mental illness; taking medication, creating life structure, connecting with other humans.
Characters this season struggle with making bad life choices and finding ways to move forward from them.This season is so intensely focused on mental health, it covers: depression, suicide,drug abuse, guilt, sociopathic tendencies, postpartum depression, alcoholism, and abandonment. It also focuses on different positive ways to deal with these, like seeing a therapist, staying active, religion and confession, “just moving on,” reinventing oneself.
Most shows like to focus on the destructive, dysfunctional ways in which people deal with mental health, which tends to turn them into heroes or villains. In this case, it does the opposite, showing how moderating mental health is an everyday task- meaningful and important- and necessary for all humans, heroes and villains alike.
Well Rounded Human Characters
While I can’t divulge all the season 3 secrets and still be spoiler free, I will say that this season surprises. I found the characters motivations, behaviors, dialogue and choices to all feel like realistic decision-making. This rawness adds to the believe-ability of the characters. There was never a point watching the show where I could “guess” what a character was going to do (hero or villain) or where the story was going to go. But also, never a point where a characters actions made me say “no one would ever do that.”
Which brings me to my last and final point: this series explores the dichotomies of characters. Matt Murdock is a kind, religious man. Yet, he is also an angry, violent man. Kingpin is a cold-hearted villain, but in moments, he chooses love over violence. Karen is a broken character with a sordid past… but she’s also pure and sweet. A woman can love a child, but not want to be a mother. Life is full of people who if you see their thought processes and decisions outlined on paper, they feel contradictory. But people are colorful, not black and white, and I appreciate a show that takes an honest approach to that rather than wrapping everything up in clichés and character archetypes.
Tune in next time for a SPOILER review of this season that will explore how close the season was to the comics and our best guesses to where this crazy ride will take us next season.
As always, you can check out all of our great Daredevil books here: https://www.midtowncomics.com/store/search.asp?q=daredevil&cat=61&reld=1/1/1900&reld2=1/1/1900&furl=pl=16@@q=daredevil
If you’ve watched the season, and are now the BIGGEST Daredevil fan now, you can check out cool DD collectibles here: https://www.midtowncomics.com/store/search.asp?pl=16&q=daredevil+figure