Not unlike its titular hero, season 3 of Daredevil isn't pulling any punches when it comes to characters, plot, and themes. After tackling faith, inner demons, and corruption, the third season of the Netflix series will pack a topical punch, taking inspiration from the current political climate.
In the third season of Daredevil, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is reeling from the events of the past two seasons, as well as The Defenders, and it's taken a noticeable toll on him. However, Matt isn't given much time to take a breather when his archenemy Wilson Fisk (aka The Kingpin) manipulates his way out of prison as an FBI informant and ultimately reinstates himself as the big bad in Hell's Kitchen. Only, he isn't alone. Matt must also face off against a new antagonist who is officially credited as Benjamin Poindexter, but fans of the series will recognize as the inimitable Bullseye. And, while the bulk of Daredevil's third season will revolve around Matt's journey in confronting/overcoming his fears, there is politically-driven influence under the surface highlighting the overall theme of this season.
At New York Comic Con 2018, we spoke with Daredevil's new showrunner Erik Oleson about the inspiration and influence driving season 3, and modern politics turned out to be the focal point. He explained that he wanted to avoid telling a story with Daredevil that is just "mindless entertainment," and instead make the show feel "part of the conversation about the world we’re living in today; to make it relevant.” He even specifically referred to the way certain people in positions of power use manipulation and fear to benefit their own agendas, how the free press is "attacked incessantly," and how he wanted to convey this angle in the new season because he's "pissed off." He said:
"A villain out in the world who is manipulating you to feel a certain way, to act a certain way, to vote a certain way, to behave a certain way has his or her own motives for doing so, and it’s very easy to just go through life on autopilot and not realize that. But as someone who grew up kind of learning the techniques of psychological warfare, it is very alarming to me to see it being used inside our own country against our own people on a daily basis.”
However, despite the negative outlook, Oleson is also using this theme to represent the positive change that can potentially evolve from politically-enforced manipulation and fear. He said, “I wanted this season to be prescriptive of how we can defeat the rise of narcissistic tyrants who use our fears against us," and then added, "I figured if Marvel was going to give me their flagship show, I was going to use it to say something meaningful.”
Though season 2 of Daredevil was certainly entertaining and checked off boxes to satisfy die-hard fans, season 3 is trimming the fat. Matt Murdock is a character whose entire life is based around justice, or lack thereof, so it's only right that something as topical as political corruption would play a role; and mirroring certain elements from real life that audiences are personally familiar with has the power to make the series that much more engaging - without sacrificing all the entertaining bells and whistles that come with it.
Season 3 of Daredevil is currently streaming on Netflix.