August 2017’s The Defenders ended on one double doozy of shock: leader and fan-favorite Matt Murdock, AKA Daredevil, perished in the collapse of The Hand, only to be late revealed alive and in recovery at an undisclosed location. His assumed death effected the other heroes tremendously, but what will his resurrection do?
This October, Daredevil seems to be back in action and ready to take on the world. However, he’s one hell of a changed man. In The Defenders, he not only learned his power as a leader but also committed himself to Elektra, til death do they part. Tragically, though, it seems Elektra didn’t survive the collapse like he did, leaving him alone all over again.
Recently, the poster for his third season was released, as well as a trailer. Throughout his run, Murdock struggled between the just hero he wished he could be and the righteous defender that darkly swarmed in his soul. He’s torn between these versions of himself, both wanting to do their best by the world but in very different ways. Both seasons it seemed that however dark he got, the just side of him always won out. This third season, however, it seems his darker side is at the forefront.
Let’s start with the poster. It has a wounded Murdock hung up like he’s crucified with New York City splayed behind him, bathing in a searing red. For fans of the show, the imagery is pretty important to Murdock as a character. Religion has been his anchor to purge the darkness in him throughout the series. The other Defenders heroes have treated Murdock as a martyr, as a symbol for them to work harder and/or be better for their city. Fittingly, their religious ex-leader is strung up that way to symbolize that. However, the fact he’s alive still and the blood-red overtones signal how he might not be so just anymore. The hero they knew might truly be gone and something darker may be coming.
This readily works itself into the Daredevil trailer. Murdock appears, bloody and emotionless, talking about how evil is insidious. That, no matter how much of it you lock away and persecute, it will always come back. It seems now, after surviving the collapse and losing Elektra again (so it seems), his hope for humanity is lost and he’s resigned to kill evil. After all, Elektra sacrificed herself to take power away from The Hand and, with that evil still in the world, she didn’t get to stay dead. He’s accepted that it’s time he “let the devil out”.
The monologue then moves to Murdock in a confessional, similar to how he started his story. In the beginning of season 1, he asked the father for forgiveness for the fighting and brutality he’d have to do to save some kidnapped girls. Now, instead of wrestling with his conscience and asking for forgiveness, Murdock is telling the priest how he feels things are. He seems fully enveloped in his dark defender persona, even coming to confessional in a mask. And then, most heartbreakingly, he confesses he’d rather die trying to be that righteous defender, Daredevil, than live as his just half, Matt Murdock.
In summation? Matt Murdock died in that building collapse. Only the thirst for violent retribution, the devil, exists anymore.
Fans will only know where this new, dark path takes Murdock when Daredevil season 3 premieres October 19th on Netflix.
However, this poster and trailer have deeper implications for Murdock and all The Defenders heroes.
First off, this proves that the events of The Defenders changed each main character irreparably. Jessica began to slowly seek more for her life, Murdock’s heroism giving her a little more hope in the world. Her family is strained and everything is a shit storm of complicated, but she’s working towards a better life for herself. Unfortunately, and painfully, things are a mess along the way because she’s never learned how to do that.
Then there’s Luke. In him, Murdock’s sacrifice sparked a desperation to be everything Harlem needed at all costs. That leads him to, instead of sticking to the straight and narrow, taking over Mariah’s club and dipping his toes into the seedy, gang underbelly of NYC. However, it also makes Luke take more responsibility for his actions and decisions. He tried so hard during Luke Cage season 1 and The Defenders to just be a nice guy who ends up in these complex situations. Now, he accepts he’s way too deep to act like a bulletproof bystander anymore. He chooses action, however murky it may get.
Danny, the Immortal Iron Fist himself, responded to losing Murdock most positively. He, like Luke, desperately wanted to protect this city in Matt’s honor. However, it made him take a long look at himself and ironed out why he felt so unfocused and lost as a hero: it was because he never became the Iron Fist for heroism. He did it for power. It seemed like the direct path to taking control of his life and he tunneled towards it. Now, he is inherantly more focused on strength than heroism. Murdock’s sacrifice leads Danny to give up his powers to find heroism his own way and, by the end of Iron Fist season 2, it seems he does.
Murdock’s death makes all other Defenders look at their lives and heroism and change them to try to be better for NYC. Murdock himself seems to be doing the same, even if it might be all the wrong ways.
There are many interesting routes the writers could take with this transformed, devilish Matt Murdock. They could have him become more of a dark anti-hero like The Punisher. Even more interesting, could his new darkness attract the semi-reformed Punisher’s attention? Could the roles be switched, Castle trying to convince Murdock not to destroy himself like this? Or, will this be a much darker version of Luke Cage season 2? Will the red devil of Hell’s Kitchen slowly transform from dark anti-hero to err on the side of villain? Could he be the big bad of The Defenders season 2? Or, will a way be found to remind Murdock of all the good in the world, the kind of good that led him to be a lawyer and hero in the first place?
Only Daredevil Season 3 will confirm, debunk, or evolve any of these possible theories. Until then, fans can only speculate what the tortured Murdock will look like without his good side keeping the darkness at bay.
Meanwhile, we anxiously await the devil’s return.