Although Daredevil showrunner Erik Olsen has clarified that the upcoming third season isn’t a “direct translation” of any comic, the newly released full-length trailer for the Netflix drama undoubtedly strikes a familiar note to longtime Marvel fans. The footage introduces a mysterious doppelganger in the red suit who commits a string of violent acts before proclaiming, “I’m Daredevil.”
As the trailer suggests, it’s part of a scheme by Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) to prevent New York City with a new enemy — someone who isn’t him — while exacting revenge against Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox). It’s a diabolical plan that has its roots in “Born Again,” the frequently referenced 1986 comic book storyline by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli.
That arc is to Daredevil what Miller and Mazzucchelli’s “Year One” is to Batman: a story that helped to redefine its hero, and influenced virtually every depiction of the character, across comics, film and television, in the decades that followed.
In “Born Again,” Fisk learns Daredevil’s secret identity, and sets out to destroy the life of Matt Murdock, piece by piece. In a succession of blows, Matt loses his money, his law license, his reputation and, in a suspicious explosion, his apartment. Finally realizing Fisk is behind this conspiracy, a homeless Matt becomes increasingly paranoid and reckless, and determined to make Fisk pay. Playing into the Kingpin’s hands, Matt is left beaten, drenched in whisky and dumped inside a taxi that’s driven into the East River; the cab’s owner is beaten to death by Daredevil’s own billy club, intended as the icing on the cake.
But although physically and mentally broken, Matt somehow survives, and is nursed back to health in secret. In hopes of drawing his foe out of hiding, Fisk arranges for the release of a homicidal inmate from a mental facility, one whom his physician says prefers knives, “But I’m sure he could be talked into using a club.” Outfitted in a replica of Daredevil’s red suit, he’s sent to kill Matt’s longtime friend and law partner Foggy Nelson, and ensure he’s seen at the apartment’s window. Luckily, Matt learns of the plan, and stops the impostor before he can reach Foggy.
When that plan falls apart, Fisk then turns to deranged Super-Soldier Nuke, a product of the same program that created Captain America, to launch an all-out assault on Hell’s Kitchen. That’s what finally draws a costumed Daredevil back into the public view, and results in what’s arguably the most iconic image in the character’s comics history.
Daredevil Season 3’s mystery foe appears to be an amalgamation of those two adversaries, a hybrid that’s necessitated at least in part by the death of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of Nuke, Will Simpson (played by Will Traval), who was killed in the second season of Jessica Jones. Judging from the trailer, Fisk’s ploy with the imposter on the Netflix series is far more successful than the similar gambit in the comics, as the doppelganger is shown attacking both a church and the offices of the New York Bulletin.
However, it’s possible a third character is thrown into this mix. The notion of an imposter was notably revisited in a 1990 story arc, which unfolded in Daredevil #284-290, in which the villain Bullseye takes advantage of Matt Murdock’s scrambled memories, and masquerades as the Man Without Fear. Given long-circulating rumors that Wilson Bethel plays Bullseye in Season 3, it’s possible we’re seeing him in the red costume, rather than a random psycho or a (somehow) resurrected Will Simpson.
Arriving Friday, Oct. 19, on Netflix, Daredevil Season 3 stars Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Joanne Whaley, Vincent D’Onofrio and Wilson Bethel.
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