Starting with Daredevil, the Netflix corner of the MCU has spun off into a variety of avenues, with different shows focusing on some thematically very different characters. But one thing that has always been a key part of Matt Murdoch’s storyline, and evolution as a character, is his faith.
With Season 3 picking up right after his self sacrifice at the end of The Defenders, we see a severely injured Matt recovering at the Clinton Missionary, a place he spend a number of years as a child, and with that the show puts Matt at odds with his faith (both thematically and visually) more than ever before.
Matt’s struggle with balancing his morals and sense of duty, with a regular life, and his religious faith has been the real backbone of Daredevil’s story throughout his first two seasons (and the Defenders), but with such a crushing defeat and almost losing his abilities (after going deaf in one ear) Matt finds himself doubting his place and purpose, refuting the idea that God has a bigger meaningful plan, and as a result shunning one of the key pillars of who he is as a character.
Over the course of the season Matt’s belief and religious faith is continually tried and tested, and becomes more of a focal point than ever as he struggles with his place in the world, whether or not to leave his life as Matt Murdoch behind, and if it’s his only real purpose is to finally kill Wilson Fisk.
This deeper dive into faith, than the show has done so far, extends in a more general way from Matt Murdoch’s religious faith, to his belief in his friends and allies, and ultimately himself.
At first deciding to hide from his life as Matt Murdoch, and with that his relationship with Foggy and Karen (in an attempt to keep them safe) he ultimately realises that in trying to keep them safe he still cares for them deeply, and whether they are working with him or not the fact that they have tried to take down Fisk before (and are continuing to do so) puts them on Fisk’s radar.
Eventually Matt sees that his relationships are what rounds out his life as not only a hero, but a person, with Season 3 showing more of Matt’s fracturing psyche and how he needs his friends and allies to keep his morals in check, just as much as they need his help in staying alive.
On top of an in depth look at Matt’s ongoing internal struggle (and giving some pretty conclusive answers to a lot of his questions by the end) the third season of Daredevil showcases a great new villain in Wilson Bethel’s Ben Pointdexter aka Bullseye, who provides a perfect counter point to Matt Murdoch’s own troubled childhood and struggle with self-identity (and is more than match fro his fighting skills). Similarly impressive is that the action is bigger, better and more brutal than ever, and the third series debuts a more detailed look at the lives of Karen Page and Foggy Nelson, as well as new characters like Ben Pointdexter.
In the end though, the third season still comes down to the core story behind Daredevils debut, Matt Murdoch against Wilson Fisk, for the fate of Hell’s Kitchen – with all of it centred around Matt’s struggle with faith. Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk is by far one of the best MCU villains there is (if not ‘the’ best), and it would be a real shame if we never got to see him go up against Tom Holland’s Spider-Man in any way, as a part of the MCU.
D’Onofrio’s performance as the Kingpin of crime (finally codenamed Kingpin this season) is once again scene stealing, with a clever and intricate plan that has Fisk as a fearful victim who just wants to help one moment, and an ingenious maser mind pulling the strings like a puppeteer the next. Ultimately the season brings Daredevil and Kingpin to what is essentially a stalemate, showing the two as opposite sides of the same coin, both knowing how to really hurt and even stop the other, but (currently) unable to do so.
With heavy influence from Frank Miller’s ‘Born Again’ arc, Daredevils third season looks to be a fitting end to this first part of Daredevil’s career, and after a struggle with his faith and how to balance his life, Mat Murdoch, is finally sure of who he is, and what he needs to do.