BEIRUT: It is quite clear at this point that Marvel Studios is reigning king among all film conglomerates and this is not only due to their marvelous cinematic universe, but also due to their understanding of trans-media storytelling – telling a story across multiple mediums.
After collaborating with Netflix to bring fans a new take on Daredevil, the man without fear, Marvel then expanded to produce JESSICA JONES, LUKE CAGE, and IRON FIST – though the latter two recently got the axe – and built their own shared universe by bringing all four heroes together in Netflix’s THE DEFENDERS.
The one that began it all, however, has not had the smoothest of runs due to its second season’s narrative struggling to handle all the players within the storyline.
Yet, last week saw the release of Daredevil’s third season – and what a spectacularly powerful and resonant season it was.
Though many claimed that the season started off slow, it is exactly this pacing that made the hero’s first entry so poignant – it took its time to set the board, and the pieces before unleashing havoc upon the city of New York from all sides.
Season 3 plays like a political conspiracy thriller more than it does a tale of heroes and villains, and this echoes another majorly successful and much-loved Marvel Studios production, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, though DAREDEVIL is bloodier and much darker.
The macro story arc deals with the release of Season 1 villain Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin, from prison after he begins to collaborate with the FBI to takedown New York City’s underground criminal families, and the repercussions that occur due to this.
Nothing is what as it seems as a much deeper conspiracy takes shape across the thirteen-episode season.
The micro story arc deals with redemption, as a lost and broken Matt Murdoch faces his inner demons, almost literally in some cases, like he never has before as he realizes and fully becomes the man without fear.
Herein lies the true strength of the writing team as they shifted focus from the spectacle of Season 2 back to the reason why Season 1 was so powerful: the characters.
Season 3 saw a great deal of Matt Murdoch’s cluster and they were as strong as the protagonist himself.
Foggy Nelson’s arc has his never-faltering faith in the legal system is put to the test and challenged at every corner until the noose is tightened and Nelson’s family becomes a target.
Karen Page’s past sins come back to haunt her and her character’s intentions become clearer and more relatable as her drive to redeem herself reaches its climax.
Father Lantom and Sister Maggie also come center stage here as they both are catalysts in a discovery that Matt makes towards the season’s midpoint that derails him from his path.
Yet, the heroes are not the only characters that are given a spotlight.
Wilson Fisk, much like his first appearance, is given much screen time and it is an utmost delight due to the character’s delicious complexities and philosophical views on life. He is not a typical villain and this makes him all the more intriguing as a character.
The season’s antagonist is Special Agent Ben Poindexter, aka “Dex”, whose sharp-eye and uncanny marksmanship become a danger to Matt and his friends when he is manipulated by Wilson Fisk into becoming his hitman. Dex is given almost an entire episode where his backstory is told and the writers hit their target during those moments.
Speaking of the writers, it was quite refreshing to watch thirteen hours of television where the screenwriting is fearless.
From using the story of Job, to emphasizing themes of forgiveness, prayer, and finding one’s way after being lost, this season of DAREDEVIL was beyond biblical and this was a major strength.
Visually, this season was absolutely stunning: from all the beautiful lighting within the cathedral, to the epically intense ten-minute long take inside the prison, there was no holding back at all from all parties involved.
The fight choreography was on par as well.
Both Daredevil and Poindexter had their own fighting style and tactic which keeps the audience on their toes during the fight sequences due to the fact that it was both a test of physical and strategic strength.
This particular element, the balance between external and internal, is why Daredevil Season 3 is so formidable not just as a super hero series, but as a conspiracy thriller.
Merging the super hero genre with other genres has been a stylistic choice that Marvel Studios has been doing since CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, and is the reason why that even after twenty-two films the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the strongest it has ever been.
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