Hopes for an adaptation of “Born Again,” the seminal 1986 comic book storyline, date back to at least when Fox still held the film rights to the Man Without Fear, and Joe Carnahan was lobbying to direct. They continued well into Marvel’s Netflix era, with fans searching for clues to the arc in the buildup to Daredevil Season 2 before finally finding a big one last year in the closing moments of The Defenders. Now, with the arrival of the third season on Oct. 19, the faithful learn that patience is indeed a virtue.
It’s not a direct translation of the acclaimed story by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, of course, but does draw heavily upon the comic, in its plot, in its themes of loss, downfall and redemption, and in its use of Christian symbolism, which always looms large on Daredevil. But more important than fidelity to the source material is the result. In that, Season 3 excels, with the six episodes provided for review representing the best of the series, and, arguably, of Netflix’s corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Under the direction of new showrunner Erik Oleson (Arrow, The Man in the High Castle), Daredevil delivers an enthralling tale that couldn’t have been told (told well, at least) any sooner, not because of the talent involved, but rather because not all of the necessary pieces were in place. The seeds of this story were planted in the choices, and even the statements, made by characters in the first season, and then took root in Season 2 and in The Defenders. Whether the viewers, or even the producers, fully realized it, Daredevil has been building to this point since its 2015 premiere.
Picking up in the immediate aftermath of The Defenders, in which Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock is buried under tons of rubble at Midland Circle, Daredevil swiftly explains away his escape — admittedly, it’s about as believable as, well, magical dragon bones beneath Manhattan — before getting to the heart of the season: Matt’s secret recovery, under the care of the no-nonsense Sister Maggie (played by the great Joanne Whalley), as his friends Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) and Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) try to continue their lives without him. None of them has an easy journey; Karen clings to hope that Matt is alive, somewhere, going so far as to keep up the rent on his apartment, while Foggy grapples with guilt, both about his professional success, and about feelings that he somehow failed his best friend.
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