This article contains major spoilers for The Defenders and potential spoilers for Daredevil Season 3.
Perhaps more than anything else, The Defenders felt like a bridge to Daredevil Season 3. While there was plenty of stuff cooking for Iron Fist, too, there was a lot more payoff for Matt Murdock, the future of Daredevil, and more. But in particular, The Defenders‘ ending really put a big piece in place for one of the biggest Daredevil stories ever to eventually get told on screen. That would be my personal favorite, Born Again, by the Batman: Year One creative team of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. Now, I’ve felt for a long time that Daredevil is building towards giving us some kind of version of Born Again, as it’s certainly a story that could occupy an entire season’s worth of TV.
Marvel has a pretty good track record when it comes to adapting specific stories for the screen. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was necessarily different from the comic book version, but faithful to its tone and spirit. Captain America: Civil War was an even bigger departure, but managed to improve on the source material considerably. Avengers: Age of Ultron borrowed the name and absolutely nothing else, and while not their finest movie, also beats the shiny pants off the comics. So when Daredevil does get around to Born Again, whether it’s in season three or a later one, it’s going to take whatever liberties are necessary in order to tell the best possible story for TV.
I’m going to try and discuss this without making it so you don’t have to read the comic, because it’s really incredible and everyone should read it if they haven’t. On the other hand, spoilers are unavoidable, and I think some of these spoilers will indeed make it to Daredevil Season 3 or beyond, so read on at your own risk.
The fact that we’re finally going to meet Sister Maggie is an important step. In the comics, the fate of Matt Murdock’s mother remained a mystery for decades, and it was during Born Again that we first learned that she had left her young family to become a nun. At the end of The Defenders, as Matt is recuperating from his ordeal, we hear one nun tell another to “get Maggie” when they learn that Matt is awake. I’ve long suspected that Father Lantom has been hiding this knowledge from Matt since season one, so this will be a hell of a payoff when they get to it.
Now, this is where I have to wonder how much of Born Again will figure directly into Daredevil Season 3, or if we’ll just spend the season leading into it. The main thrust of Born Again is that Wilson Fisk learns Daredevil’s true identity and decides to ruin Matt Murdock’s life. Not kill him, just seriously ruin his life. He succeeds. As we know, Wilson Fisk is waiting for an opportunity to get revenge, and towards the end of season two it looked like he already had some suspicions about Matt Murdock. Perhaps the fact that, as Foggy and Karen pointed out in The Defenders, Matt and the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen both disappeared at the same time will help him figure it out.
But in the comics, Fisk came by that information in a quite different way, when a desperate Karen Page handed over Matt’s name. Those were different times for her character, although it has been repeatedly hinted throughout both seasons of Daredevil that Karen has some serious skeletons in her closet, and it’s about time the show revealed what they are. Maybe her despondency over Matt’s “death” starts driving her back to some old demons. I still can’t see a scenario where the TV version of Karen willingly gives Matt’s name over to Wilson Fisk, though.
After Fisk essentially “breaks” Matt’s will (I’m not going to recap the whole story here, because, again, read the comic and thank me later), Matt is a paranoid, hallucinating mess. I could very well see a scenario where Daredevil Season 3 opens with a beat-up, mentally broken/semi-amnesiac Matt Murdock is having a hard time readujusting before his friends realize he’s alive, and meanwhile Wilson Fisk is putting two and two together. It would all fit, and we could get a loose adaptation this way (and based on everything else we’ve gotten from the Daredevil/Netflix team, I’m sure it would be quite good). Still, I think that we may have to wait a little bit longer before Born Again actually happens.
Instead, Matt needs a season to feel like he’s got his shit together again, where he’s working nights as Daredevil, and knowing that he has some friends around the city that can back him up when things get too crazy. We also really, really need the introduction of Bullseye on this show (I do subscribe to the theory that he was teased in season one), which would give Matt a real (if traditional) villainous challenge, and his victory there would only further cement the idea that he can handle whatever life throws at him in either of his identities. Once that happens, when Matt is feeling like he has his life under control, then it’s time for Fisk to try and break him for good. Fisk sends Daredevil’s physical match out for him, the greatest assassin in the world, and it still doesn’t work? That’s when he turns to unconventional, psychological warfare. Save Born Again for season 4 or season 5 and you give the writers time to flesh out whatever issues Karen has had hiding in her past, too.
When the showrunners do finally get around to Born Again (and make no mistake, they eventually will), the climactic battle has the opportunity to bring back a tragic figure from Jessica Jones Season 1, and offers excuses for other Defenders to show up to back Matt up (in the comics, it’s Captain America, but we all know that won’t happen here). I have no doubt that they’ll get it right, but a big part of that is staying patient, and letting all the other elements they’ve been teasing finally play out the way they should. We’ll get there, but I’m not that confident it should be in season three.
And if I’m wrong? Well, it’ll probably still turn out just fine, too!
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