Let’s talk about Daredevil’s “World On Fire”

A still frame showing the world on fire effect used on Marvel's Daredevil

I’ve decided to start this new chapter in the life of The Other Murdock Papers, by tackling a topic I’ve been meaning to address since 2015, when the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil came out. I’m talking about the short-lived special effect known as the “world on fire.”

The effect appeared for the first and last time in the fifth episode of the first season, which also carries its name: World On Fire. I’ve briefly talked about my issues with the world on fire in other contexts, most recently on the “exploring the senses” episode of the #TalkDaredevil podcast. However, I’ve never gone into detail about why I’m not a fan of this particular interpretation of Matt’s “pseudo-visual” abilities.

Don’t take it literally

And let’s start there, with the word “interpretation.” Because, I think it’s important to keep in mind that every single artistic take on Daredevil’s radar sense (and beyond) in every comic book, and live-action appearance have been attempts to translate Matt’s inner world into something that we can comprehend. The natural constraints of telling a story in two-dimensional color means that we can never get a real sense of what “seeing” in colorless three dimensions is really like.

Considering the challenges various artistic takes on Daredevil’s “radar” sense come up against, a case could be made for never showing it at all. If we’re talking about the show, I would argue that such a choice would have been preferable to the world on fire effect. Especially since, from the way it’s described, you really do get the sense that we, the viewers, are meant to take this literally. I would love to know how an otherwise exceptionally ambitious creative team arrived at this particular choice.

However, I also truly believe there are good ways to portray Daredevil’s “radar,” as long as you still keep in mind that it can never be literally what Matt “sees.” In my opinion, the focus of any such attempt should be to not include any information that is strictly visual. Instead, creators should think long and hard about what features of the world that we typically access through vision, can in fact be accessed through our other senses. Those features should realistically be the only one Matt Murdock has any knowledge of.

Frame taken from the scene where Matt "looks" at Claire. Her iris and pupil are visible.

Continue reading “Let’s talk about Daredevil’s “World On Fire””

Daredevil season 4 – What do we actually know? (Updated with the news of the show’s cancellation)

Matt taking a breath during his prison escape in Daredevil season three, episode four.

UPDATE: As many of you have probably seen already, news is out that Daredevil has been canceled by Netflix. It turns out that my optimism was misplaced and this show has ended the only way it would: due to reasons other than viewing numbers and audience appreciation. Much of what I’ve written in this post is still relevant to the discussion of what might happen next, were the show to continue in some other form.

If Marvel is contractually allowed to continue the show, with the same cast, on some other platform, I believe they will. If they intend to reboot the show with a new cast, I’d say don’t bother. It’s this cast or none at all as far as I’m concerned.

I have to admit, the response to the #RenewDaredevil campaign has been pretty interesting. It ranges from, “Of course we’re getting a season four, why wouldn’t we? What are you guys even on about?” to “They’re obviously moving it to the new Disney streaming service,” and on to the majority position of “Great initiative, where do I sign up?” 

It’s obvious that there is a lot of speculation (understandable) and misinformation (avoidable) out there. With this post, I hope to clear up some of the confusion. I will do this by looking at what we actually do know, or may at least be able to infer from available sources. To be sure, I’m offering some speculation of my own, but nothing that runs counter to known facts.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m actually quite optimistic about the prospects for a season four of Daredevil. If this were only a numbers game, I’d say it’s a done deal. Even if viewership is down compared to seasons one and two, it still appears to be one of Netflix’s most popular shows. The fact that season three showrunner Erik Oleson has already 1) pitched his idea for season four to Netflix and 2) publicly posted about it on Twitter is obviously a good indication that season four is actively being considered. By Netflix.

Data from just after the release of the Defenders, suggest that Daredevil has vastly outperformed all of the other Netflix Marvel shows (though The Punisher’s first season had yet to drop at the time). This would mean that even if season three had only half the viewership of season two, it would still have twice as many viewers as seasons one of Luke Cage and Iron Fist. The big caveat here is that we don’t actually have access to Netflix’s own data, and secondary sources are only indirect measures that might be inaccurate.

The Netflix business model

However, we are also moving in different Netflix landscape compared to two and a half years ago, when Daredevil’s second season came out. The number of shows on Netflix, in particular those actually produced by the company, have grown. A lot. I remember when the premiere of a new Netflix show was a special occasion. That’s no longer the case, and that naturally reduces the visibility of each individual show on the platform, and the amount of marketing it receives.

Of course, all of this also calls into question Netflix’s longterm business model. Just like services such as Spotify, Netflix is spending a massive amount of money building its library, money they can only expect to recoup if their subscriber count keeps growing. Whether the growing global demand for Netflix’s services will be enough to actually make the company profitable at some point in the future is anyone’s guess.

From this perspective, I think it’s actually wise that they’ve ceased the near automatic renewal of everything they put out. It’s better to spend the money on their better-performing properties. And, in the stiff competition with other shows on the same platform, Daredevil at least appears to be performing well.

In a weird twist, cutting down on the number of Marvel shows may even benefit those that remain. And Daredevil, The Punisher, and Jessica Jones all share a certain gritty quality that may even allow for more organic cameos and cross-overs than what we saw in The Defenders.

Marvel/Disney needs Netflix approval

What about the suggestion that Disney/Marvel will want to move this and other show to its own streaming platform Disney+? That might be the case, but what people are forgetting is that these shows have come about as a joint venture between Netflix and Marvel/Disney. While I’m obviously not privy to the details of this deal (hey, if you are, let us know!), the idea that Marvel/Disney can make a unilateral decision to just have them moved is obviously false.

To be clear, the news that Disney/Marvel would be moving their movie library from Netflix does not affect these shows. The suggestion that they won’t be hosting any R-rated content in general (at least for the time being) is also positive news for those of us who feel that Daredevil is fine just where it is right now. (However, it might be bad news for people hoping for a Disney-hosted Heroes for Hire show.)

But we also don’t know (any extremely insightful entertainment lawyers out there?) what the cancellation for any of these shows means for their legal status after cancellation. Whether a show that Netflix has passed on becomes available – in the same format with the same actors – is something that is likely specified in the deal between Disney/Marvel and Netflix.

If Disney/Marvel is free to take these shows to one of their own platforms, a better fit than Disney+ might be a certain other streaming service. After Disney’s planned acquisition of 20th Century Fox, the company will own 60% of Hulu. This would be a more natural home for the more mature heroes we will no longer be seeing on Netflix. Again, that’s if their deal allows for these shows to be resurrected elsewhere with no strings attached.

So, what I suspect this comes down to is that Netflix will have to decide whether keeping Daredevil going is a profitably move on their part. I’m willing to bet that, judging by what we know now, they will officially green-light a season four in the near future. The one issue that might complicate things comes down to politics. By continuing with the shows, Netflix is also contributing to building the brand of a company they are now in direct competition with. This will matter less, though, if Daredevil is still considered a net benefit to Netflix.

Why #RenewDaredevil matters

All of the ifs and buts that drive these decisions are beyond the reach and ken of individual fans. So you might wonder what point there is in launching a campaigning like #RenewDaredevil. My response would be: What is there to lose? It’s not as if Netflix is going to go back on a decision to give another season the green light because the fans are acting too much like fans. And, if they really are on the fence about this, it might do some good. Who knows?

On top of all of this, social media is a great way to bond as a fan community and express our appreciation for the actors, writers, directors and other staff members who have given us this show. From all of us: Thank you!

For those who want to join this campaign, here’s the link to the official #RenewDaredevil site (also on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). You can also use your own images, or tweet/post without an image (though they do encourage interaction). Choosing to take a more laid back approach? Retweeting or sharing what others are doing is also a good way to be involved. If this type of thing is not for you, then sit this one out. It’s that simple.

If you, like me, are in an inconvenient time zone (I’m currently in Tokyo), there are apps that will let you schedule tweets/posts. I will be using Buffer to schedule posts to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (yup, there is a TOMP Instagram now).

Be sure to go to the official page to see what time you should post, depending on your time zone. Obviously, you’re free to post about #RenewDaredevil at any time, but there is a point to having a campaign that peaks at a certain time.

Have fun with this, that’s what it’s all about! I’ll be back with a new post on Saturday that references some things from season three – mentioned in my review of episode four – before getting back to individual episode reviews next week.

(Updated) Be one of the fans pushing for Daredevil, season 4!

Renew Daredevil promotional feature showing Matt, as the Man in Black, sitting atop the Clinton Church

UPDATE: With the news of Daredevil’s cancellation, the campaign for tomorrow will shift focus to #ThankYouDaredevil. This will be our way of expressing support for the cast and crew. Join in if you want to. Need to vent? This post, or my most recent one, are good places to do that.

Word is starting to spread of the fan initiative underway to show Netflix just how much we’ve been enjoying Daredevil, and that we would very much like to see a season four. Though I’m hopeful for a season four, if Netflix is still on the fence about this, let’s knock them off that fence and make sure they land squarely on the renewal button!

Further down, you’ll find the official statement for this campaign, containing instructions and helpful tips for how to participate. The objective is to get #RenewDaredevil to trend, with particular focus on a specific time period when we concentrate our efforts, the first such “push” happening this Friday. Also, Check the official campaign site (screen shot below) for additional information and gorgeous, ready-made graphics you can use.

Screen grab from the Renew Daredevil campaign official website

Dear Daredevil fans,

More than a month has passed since Daredevil Season 3’s successful premiere to much fan and critical acclaim, but with the recent cancellations of Luke Cage and Iron Fist, we know an automatic renewal for Daredevil is not guaranteed.

Introducing the #RenewDaredevil fan campaign. Our goal is to @Netflix about what we liked about #Daredevil and how much we want Netflix to #RenewDaredevil – using this hashtag. If enough of us post positive comments during 12-2pm ET (you can convert that to your own time zone here) every Friday starting with November 30, we can get #RenewDaredevil trending!

Here are some tips for participating successfully:

  • No more than 2 hashtags (#RenewDaredevil + #Daredevil or #DaredevilSeason4)
  • Tweets should be short and to the point
  • No foul language
  • Graphics increase engagement so use your fave pic(s), gifs or vids of DDS3
  • Twitter watches for engagement so remember: CLICK the gifs/vids/pics, likes AND rt all help the #RenewDaredevil team effort
  • Reply to DD cast, crew, big fans – they may RT and spread the word but NO HARASSMENT please
  • Remain a positive voice for the effort, no bullying/threatening others into RTs, no arguing with people who respond negatively to your posts
  • Let’s show Netflix the tremendous demand there is for more Daredevil seasons!

Thank you from the fans at #RenewDaredevil (renewdaredevil.com)

I have often been astounded by how generally awesome the Daredevil fan community is, but I’m still blown away by how much has been put together in short order. Efforts are underway to spread this information to all online channels in which Daredevil fans move in significant numbers.

We all know that there’s been an outpouring of support for this show already, but there is something to be said for creating some kind of structured campaign around this, and I hope you all join me in participating!

If you have answers and suggestions, please put them in the comments. If there are suggestions or questions I don’t know the answer to, I’ll feed them back to the official Renew Daredevil site admin.

First thoughts on Daredevil season three

Spoiler warning: I’m writing this after having watched all thirteen episodes of Marvel’s Daredevil. While I won’t go too far into specifics, I still advice against reading further if you still have a few episodes to go. Full spoilers allowed in the comment section.

Note: I’ve also made some edits to this text since first posting it.

Update: After seeing the season for the second time, I’ve come around completely about Matt’s arc. I really tried to pay attention to it the second time around, and I get it now.

Rather than go back and change something I’ve written, which is unwise, I’ll do another post on just his arc at some point. First though, I’ll get to my individual episode reviews starting tomorrow.

By a “fortunate” combination of a cold that kept me home from work (yes, the cold was real…) and living in a good time zone (the show dropped at 9 AM in most of Western Europe), I have actually finished watching Daredevil season three already. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to go into reviews of individual episodes right away or do a “first thoughts” post, but the mood struck so here we are.

I have mostly positive things to say about his season. In fact, this is the first time I’ve watched a season of Daredevil and felt this good about it right afterwards. You might recall that I only came to love season one after a rewatch and some time to digest the missteps. I’m still not entirely over the last third of season two, despite being impressed with that season’s overall level of quality. Season three of Daredevil, on the other hand, is the best-paced and most satisfying season of anything to come out of the Marvel/Netflix collaboration, topping the first season of The Punisher (yes, even as a Daredevil fan, I rank that above the first two seasons of Daredevil).

In my first comment on Twitter, after finishing the season, I rated it as 96% perfect. Maybe that was a bit of a stretch, but I still mostly stand by that. And I’m curious to see how I feel after rewatching, something which has always heightened my overall appreciation for this show in the past.

There is some fantastic character growth happening this season. Fisk is menacing in a visceral way, and Foggy and Karen come into their own in ways that deserve a standing ovation. Sister Maggie is a fantastic addition to the cast (though I was actually a bit disappointed that they went the “expected” route with her origin after hinting that we wouldn’t). Father Lantom had an insanely strong comeback and both Bullseye and Ray Nadeem were great and fully fleshed-out additions to the cast. Oh, and we got to see more of Jack Murdock and young Matt, respectively. I loved that!

Most of the Marvel/Netflix shows have had issues with pacing, as well as bits and pieces that feel like filler. That is not the case with season three of Daredevil. The eleven hours and change flew by, and I didn’t want it to end.

This season also has a more drawn-out ending than previous seasons, and I mean that in a very good way. Sure, there are climactic things happening in the final episode, but the creative team makes full use of the “long movie” format and seem to realize that the final twenty minutes are not to a very long “movie” what they are to an actual movie that runs for just over two hours.

This is a big step up from earlier productions that have suffered from being forced to sputter along while saving this one major showdown for the finale. In this case, the “sputtering” feels fun and meaningful all the way through.

So far, I haven’t really mentioned Matt, and there’s a reason for that. Charlie Cox does a fanstastic job playing him, as usual, and I honestly can’t imagine anyone else in the role at this point. His arc, however, is by far the least satisfying and this is pretty much the entire reason I’m not calling this a complete home run. After all the talk about confronting one’s fears, I still can’t tell you what Matt’s biggest fear is or exactly how he overcame it. (Unless we’re talking true intimacy, but we already knew that.)

When he finally finds his way back to the metaphorical light at the end, it happens quite suddenly and inexplicably. Again, I can’t pin down any one thing that was done or said to bring that about. And as much as I still deeply care about the Netflix version of the character, he is being pretty much insufferable to the people around him for much of the season with relatively little to explain his sudden maturation near the end. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy every minute of screen time that he got, because I did, and I always want to see more of him. That, and his fight scenes are amazing as well.

There is also a slight issue with his powers that becomes more striking because everything else is so perfect. And it’s not even one my usual complaints (I’m over his random and oddly specific ability to know everything about guns people are firing even from absurd distances), but the way so many of his moves and actions are omitted that bother me. This isn’t actually new to this season, just more obvious because of how grounded the rest of characters are this time around. With most of them, you always know what they know and how they know it because it’s all presented so well and the puzzle pieces so well thought out.

With Matt, that’s not always the case. When he shows up at Nadeem’s house, I’m wondering: “How did he get there? Did he take a cab?” (The place is clearly in the suburbs.) When he meets Karen at the home of the man who shanked Wilson Fisk, in episode six, she is surprised to see him there. I was surprised to not hear him explain how he’d followed her, but that he had instead also found the guy’s address. How? If he knew, he didn’t have to ask Karen for help. And, how did he find out on his own? Did he google it? That would have been fine, but would have required showing us how Matt googles things. There are others scenes and events that have some of the same issues, but I guess I’ll get back to them when I review the individual episodes.

There are complications with this character connected to those of his senses that work really well – and the one that doesn’t work at all – that actually need a little more explaining and exposition. If there’s one thing (okay, two) I’ve been trying to communicate in my ten plus years of writing about this character, it’s this:

1) You don’t have to give up trying to make intellectual sense of his powers, and resort to what comes across as near-magic and deus ex machina appearances, and

2) you don’t need to shy away from showing people his perceptual deficits (and not only when he’s injured, which was done very well, by the way). I’m willing to bet an arm that more people are put off by too little of this than too much. Trust me, it’s okay to have a blind superhero occasionally run into trouble because of it.

For instance: In the final episode, when Matt calls Dex from the phone of Fisk’s fixer, it would have made the scene better if we had been shown how he did that from someone else’s smartphone than omitting that information (it would have taken fifteen seconds, at most). Some of us know that accessibility features can be switched on easily on modern smartphones, but a great many people don’t, and at least some of them must be wondering how he made that call on a phone that wasn’t his. Even Siri would have worked. 

Given these last few paragraphs, it might seem like this is a lot more than four percent, but I can assure you that it’s not. There really is so much to love this season, and none of the things that didn’t work for me are things that cannot be addressed and expanded on in future seasons.

Nothing and no one has been “broken” here, and so much of what many of us loved about the teamwork between the core trio has been restored by the end, even though it was a bit quicker and less complicated than it needed to be. Though I don’t expect Matt’s life to be carefree for long when next season inevitably rolls around, I do hope he can lean on his friends instead of pushing them away.

Counting down the hours until Daredevil Season Three

At the time of this writing, we are about 36 hours away from the release of the third season of Daredevil. Depending on where you are in the world, you may be able to start watching right away, or need to postpone it for a few hours. If you are a regular TOMP reader, I suspect you’ll hit “play” as soon as logistics and family and work responsibilities allow.

On a personal note, I think I’ve devised a plan that will allow me to finish watching within the first sixteen hours. While I certainly see the appeal in dragging it out, I don’t think I could put off knowing where it all ends. As long as nothing happens to put me off entirely, I’ll rewatch at a more comfortable pace of the next few days. Besides, I have to start pushing out those individual episode reviews ASAP.

I haven’t really had time to blog in the last few days, and part of the reason is that I’ve been so busy just sharing, retweeting and otherwise engaging with the posters, teasers and reviews coming out over the last few days on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. This is just one of the many reasons you should follow me on those platforms, if you use them yourself (links in the footer).

And the Daredevil account has certainly been busy. In this post, you’ll find the Bullseye-centric trailer that came out just minutes before me and Claire sat down to discuss the official trailer. Below is the Wilson Fisk featurette, released just a few days ago. It contains interviews with Vincent D’Onofrio and Charlie Cox – that latter still covered in fake blood – and quite a bit of previously unseen footage. Whether the Daredevil marketing team has been too generous with what they’ve been giving away, or have been saving the best for last, is a discussion to be had after we’ve all had time to digest this upcoming season.

In addition to this, Daredevil’s Instagram account has been putting out a series of all-black videos (we all see what you did there…) with snippets of dialogue from the show. At the time of this writing, there are nine of them. For all we know, there might be more. As evidence of the marketing machine still being in full swing, there was the release of a new poster just a few hours ago. It’s gorgeous, I tell ya (see below).

For those of you looking for high-resolution versions of many of the promotional stills that have been released over the last few weeks, the marketing team has you covered. They’re available in a few places, including comicbookmovie.com.

Poster showing the Daredevil costume melting off of Matt's body, revealing the black "Devil of Hell's Kitchen" costume underneath.

There have also been interesting interviews and news stories. You may have heard about how Matt Murdock’s apartment was listed on Craigslist. The same apartment featured prominently in Marvel.com’s interviews with the set and costume designers. In addition to this are all the reviews – overwhelmingly positive – which have been posted since last Friday.

So, what happens around these parts of the Internet? Well, I won’t post again until after I’ve seen the whole show. I’ll start with either a “first impressions” type of post or a straight review of the first episode. 

In the mean time, feel free to chime in with your last-minute comments below. Anything known from reviews (though not individual episode reviews) and promotional materials is safe to discuss. However, I ask that you wait until I publish my next post to post your thoughts on the show after having seen it yourself. Let’s keep this and earlier posts safe for people who have yet to see the show.

I will see you all on the “other side”!

Sister Maggie in Daredevil season three

Someone who must be sister Maggie in episode two of Daredevil, season two

In this post, I will once again speculate on what we might see coming up in season three, based on available interviews and other tidbits of information. If this sounds a bit too spoilery for you, read no further!

Yesterday, we finally saw the Collider interview with Joanne Whalley that had been teased ever since all those set visit stories and interviews were published last week (I have yet to see an extensive interview with Whalley anywhere else). As with everything else we’ve seen over the last week, including the two trailers, you have to wonder about the amount of information they’re giving away, either explicitly or in the form of disparate details that anyone who so wishes can piece together into what are possibly major plot developments.

Before reading the Whalley interview, we had already been teased that Matt’s relationship with Sister Maggie might not be exactly what comics fans would expect. This could mean that they do not share the biological bond we know from the comics, where Maggie turns out to Matt’s mother. At the time, this was a clever retcon by Frank Miller from the Born Again storyline, pencilled by David Mazzucchelli, since Matt’s mother had been presumed dead up until that point. While little is known about Maggie’s own story, another pice of the puzzle was added quite recently, in a story by Mark Waid and Javier Rodríguez, which gave us a pretty satisfactory explanation for why Maggie felt compelled to leave her family.

Jack and Grace "Maggie" Murdock, as seen in Daredevil #7 (vol 4) by Mark Waid and Javier Rodríguez
In the “Original Sin” storyline from Daredevil #6 and #7 (vol 4), by Mark Waid and Javier Rodríguez, we learn that Maggie left the family for fear of hurting young Matt after she developed a serious case of post-partum depression (or even psychosis).

In the interview linked above, we learn that Matt actually grew up in Maggie’s care since she runs the home (I refuse to use the outdated term orphanage…) where he grew up after Jack’s death. This means that Maggie is known to him, and that she, regardless of their biological relationship, has been a mother figure to him. Since the choice to have Jack die while Matt is still young raises all kinds of questions about what happened in Matt’s life between Stick’s abandonment and his meeting Foggy in law school, I find it comforting to know that he had people in his life that were some kind of steady presence.

We also learn all kinds of other things that I know many of us had been wondering about, such as the role (if any) Father Lantom would play in this coming season. It turns out that he’s instrumental in getting Matt to Sister Maggie (though who delivered Matt to Father Lantom remains unknown to the many of us who don’t belong to the lucky few who have seen the first few episodes. (Lest you forget, the review embargo lifts on Friday, so expect an additional onslaught of information, even though early reviewers are usually instructed to not give away too much.) What seems clear is that both Father Lantom and Sister Maggie will be important this season, beyond their ties to Matt.

Matt and Maggie in a promo still from season three. This particular image was “borrowed” from ManWithotFear.com’s excellent page collecting all the news on season three.

One thing you have to wonder about going into season three is whether the glimpses into Matt’s history that were introduced in seasons one and two will be addressed in the story we’re about to see. One scene that stood out to me right off the bat was the one in the second episode of season one, when Jack is making arrangements for Matt in case he ends up dead after his final match. He calls a woman, presumably Matt’s mother, and leaves a message on her answering machine. The only thing is, the outgoing message on the machine doesn’t sound like what you’d expect from a nun living in a convent. If Matt’s mom is someone other than Maggie (and this has been planned since season one somehow), then what is the connection between her and the convent? And what exactly have they been planning?

There’s also a scene from the third episode of season two (see the teaser image) where Matt, knocked unconscious by Frank Castle, seems to remember being cared for by a nun that we all figured had to be Sister Maggie. What is interesting about the environment in which this seems to take place is that it looks a lot more like the images we’ve been teased from season three than the hospital Matt landed in after his accident. You might wonder why this matters, especially if you’ve discovered the character through the Netflix show, as opposed to the comics. In Born Again, it’s clear that Matt receives a visit from Sister Maggie while he’s still in the hospital. She also, somewhat mysteriously, seems to know what Matt is going through, and that he’s developed some kind of new gift.

Looking at the show, it is clear that the scene from season two takes place some time later, presumably after he came to live with her and the other nuns. You can always hope that the clues they leave over the course of a show like this line up in the end, but I’m always impressed when they actually do. Especially since something as basic as how much time has passed since Matt and Foggy finished law school is completely different between seasons one and two. 

Well, I’m going to hand over all the speculating to you guys now. For those of you who are curious to learn even more about Matt and Maggie’s relationship on the show, a scene from season one featuring the two was among the clips shown to attendees at NYCC. You can read descriptions of it here (Bleeding Cool) and here (Comicbook.com).

The BUILD Series Daredevil season three interview(s)

Well. the BUILD Series interview with the cast was just broadcast live a few hours ago, and I tried to live blog it. However, the plugin I used for this purpose pretty much took the site down, so I had to “unpublish” this post. I’m putting it back up now with video of the interview embedded below.

My main take-aways? This cast really enjoys working together, Erik Oleson is a total fanboy (in a good way), and Elden Henson lets a pretty big spoiler slip! I had heard the rumors on this one, but if you thought the trailer was too much information, you may want to skip this video.

Speaking of trailers, later today I’m getting together with Claire from The Defenders Podcast to record our thoughts on the season three trailer. This has become a tradition, as we did the same thing for the first and second seasons. I’ll try to put it up as soon as we are done!

The Daredevil trailer is here!

Hot damn, the trailer is here already! It looks f-ing amazing. And here I was in the middle of writing another post that I’ll now have to modify. Also, just on my way out the office door.

Look for a proper podcast dissection of this trailer very soon! Comment away, but don’t go either there or anywhere near this video if you’re avoiding spoilers!

Update: Yours truly will discuss this trailer with Claire from The Defenders Podcast (it’s a tradition!) in a special podcast episode that will be released on Saturday. Stay tuned!

Fear and self-loathing in Hell’s Kitchen

This post contains references to teaser trailers and promos, as well as interviews with people associated with the show. Read at your own risk.

I have to admit that I’m really excited for season three. Probably more excited than I should be. In fact, I’m reminded of the days when much more of my time revolved around Daredevil: Thinking about the character, reading the comics, planning what to write about and then putting those thoughts into words for all of you to read. 

At times like these, I’m also reminded of the downside to getting this passionately involved in anything. The risk of disappointment is obviously proportionately related to the level of emotional investment. I’m currently re-watching seasons one and two of Daredevil, and my feelings about the tail end of season two will always be mixed. It’s good stuff throughout, but watching Matt’s self-sabotage during the final half of the season can be rough.

Going into season three, I probably should be more terrified than I am. All the teasers are indicating that we’re going darker than dark. (And it’s not as if the first two seasons were all fun and games.) But that’s paradoxically part of the reason I feel a sense of calm. A “fight for Matt Murdock’s soul” is quite obviously not going to end with his soul being lost. Teasers tell you where things begin and hint at where the journey will lead you, not usually where it actually ends. Or else we’ll have thirteen episodes of going in circles, taking us right back to the beginning with no ground covered in terms of character growth. That’s clearly not what’s going to happen.

But I will admit that I’m interested in where Matt begins his journey this season, something I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to get back to. From the Entertainment Weekly interview with season three showrunner Erik Oleson:

“Matt goes to pretty much the darkest place you can,” Oleson says. “When he realizes that he’s incapable of being Daredevil, he would rather just end it than go forward in his life without abilities. He’s decided to set aside his Matt Murdock persona and just be the Devil, to isolate the lighter part of himself.”

So, Matt will find his powers reduced. Incidentally, he’ll apparently still go out as Daredevil (which we have seen before in a story from the Miller run, I mention it in A history of the radar sense #5 – Frank Miller part 2). Then again, if you’re feeling suicidal, thoughts of your own safety might go out the window. If you’re Matt Murdock, the impulse to stay safe from harm was not strong to begin with.

What this all reminds me of is a an observation I’ve occasionally made about this character before: He’s got a very skewed sense of self-worth.

Without being overly dramatic, I’d say that I can personally relate to Matt’s tendency to base his self-esteem on his accomplishments (only). In theory, he knows that the concern he feels for other people (sure he’ll screw over Foggy professionally, but would lay down his life before allowing any real harm to come to any of his friends), should apply to himself as well. You could also argue on religious grounds that he should know that the sanctity of human life includes his own. But, at the end of the day, he looks at himself as a tool first. And a tool has no real value apart from its usefulness in doing work or solving problems.

That’s not to say that Matt doesn’t have a hedonistic side that thoroughly enjoys going out as Daredevil. The way I see it, there are two sides to this. First of all, being an adrenaline junkie is a basic part of his personality (something I coincidentally co-wrote a chapter about for the book Daredevil Psychology: The Devil You Know). Even if he never developed heightened senses from the accident, he would have found outlets for this distinct trait. Secondly, being Daredevil allows him a physical freedom his civilian life doesn’t, and that becomes a goal in and of itself. If he feels his capacity in this respect suddenly reduced, it is natural that this would be deeply traumatic, the way it would be for anyone.

Matt holding his Daredevil mask, from the Netflix show

Added to this, though, is this idea that being Daredevil gives him a sense of purpose. I would think that this would be even more important to Matt in light of his nighttime habit also being something of a compulsion (see above). If, on top of a genuine concern for other people’s safety – that his heightened senses won’t let him ignore – he is also able to put his darker side to work for the higher good, what’s not to love about that?

A third thing to consider is that being Daredevil also makes his childhood accident, his point of origin as a superhero, meaningful. I remember that Mark Waid often spoke about this, and pointed out that being able to go out as Daredevil brings a sense of justice and purpose to something that was, in other ways, fundamentally unfair. In committing a good and heroic deed, a young boy loses his sight for life. It’s a textbook case of “no good deed goes unpunished.” If he also gets special abilities as a result, is that not God’s way of giving someone a higher purpose? If you’re Matt Murdock, you may very well interpret it this way.

If Matt believes his ability to be Daredevil has been taken away from him (and of course, we all know he’ll recover) it takes away all of the things I’ve mentioned above. And aside from the normal and very human grief someone would experience at a time of such crisis, it also shines a light on how little Matt thinks of his own worth without these things. Always ready to shield others from harm, and never judging them by their level of power (physical or otherwise), Matt is not nearly as good at showing himself that same level of kindness and respect.

Just looking at the Netflix show, it’s not difficult to understand where this might be coming from. The first person to come along, after the loss of his father at a very young age, is Stick. Despite the fact that Stick evidently develops deeper feelings for young Matt than he intended to, he still views Matt primarily as a tool, a “soldier” to fight alongside him in the coming war. And again, Matt is of use to him because of his heightened senses and physical prowess. If he were just some random unfortunate blind orphan, he never would have received a visit in the first place. Stick also stresses the importance of secrecy, as well as the need for Matt to isolate himself socially from people who might want to get close to him. No wonder Elektra’s brand of intimacy, authentic as it might be, is the one he is best equipped to wrap his brain around.

So, I guess what I’m getting at is that I’m actually looking forward to seeing Matt’s deeper issues dealt with. He needs to understand that his worth as a human being goes deeper than his gifts. Only then can he see them for what they are, as opposed to an obligation to do more, a debt to be repaid, a source of arrogance, or a reason to keep the people who can see through it all out of his life.

Daredevil is four weeks away!

Note! The below post and its comment section may contain information that people avoiding any and all spoilers should probably stay away from.

Thursday saw exciting new Daredevil info hit Twitter and elsewhere, with a confirmed release date of October 19, and a new teaser trailer. The Daredevil account was very active, though mostly through Bible verses, which I assume sent an unusual number of visitors to Bible web sites. (We’ll look at of some of them for you below.)

Then, yesterday, came a very revealing Entertainment Weekly article with a couple of new set photos, and lots of information about where we’ll find our favorite characters when the season begins. I will discuss some of this below, so people wary of even the slightest spoilers should probably stop reading right here. (I guess your main takeaway will be to remember to tune in to Netflix on October 19.) One of these set photos, a variant of one of the others, and one not found in the EW article at all, can also be found at spoilertv.com.

The info in the EW article is really quite revealing. It seems that, while Matt and Foggy aren’t reunited right off the bat, we at least don’t have to wait until much of the season has passed for Matt to come back from the “dead.” There’s not mention of Karen though.

What doesn’t surprise me is that the events of The Defenders have taken a physical toll on Matt in ways that will be evident at the start of the season. We know he had a building drop on him so the idea that he’d snap back with no trouble at all would seem pretty implausible (I’m impressed by how frail they’ve actually made Charlie Cox look in the bar scene above). We also had that bit of foreshadowing in season two were Matt had his senses go on the fritz after a head injury. There’s a very well-known story from the Miller run which leads up to the in-story introduction of Stick that sees Daredevil dealing with the loss of his radar sense, which I suspect they may have borrowed some of the inspiration from.

That this seems to take Matt to a very dark place doesn’t surprise me either, as he is pretty much the textbook definition of someone who bases their self-worth on accomplishments (only). This may also be the reason he allows his friends and allies to go on believing he’s dead for some, as yet, unidentified amount of time. He’s probably convinced himself they’re better off without him. I really, really hope they do something interesting with this though. In fact, I will probably have to come back to this topic.

I’m really digging the fact that showrunner Erik Oleson seems to have been given pretty free reins. I love stories that remind me of classic Daredevil moments, but I don’t need faithful adaptations of entire storylines. After all, you want there to be surprises and brand new content to enjoy. Well, I guess I should end this with some Bible verses from the Daredevil Twitter account.

Job 12:22
“He reveals the deep things of darkness
  and brings utter darkness into the light.”

Job 30:26
“Yet when I hoped for good, evil came;
  when I looked for light, then came darkness.”

Romans 2:8
“But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow            evil, there will be wrath and anger.”

Deuteronomy 30:15
“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.”