Note: Spoilers ahead. If you haven't watched the Season 3 of Daredevil, do not proceed.
The Dark Knight changed the way we saw superheroes. Broken and flawed in ways too familiar to the bad guys. A sense of moral ambiguity often clouding the methods to subdue evil.
Though, after The Dark Knight, gritty realistic stories took the back seat as we stayed glued to the brilliance of CGI on the big screen.
Superhero TV shows, while showing promise, soon fell into the same archaic fold of the genre, season after season.
But then, things changed in 2015, with Netflix’s Daredevil. A previous attempt at adopting the Marvel hero on the big screen had failed miserably. At best, Daredevil was a B-List washed up hero nobody cared about.
But not this time. Charlie Cox made sure we stayed with Matt Murdock as he carried the burden of Hell's Kitchen on his lone shoulders in a tracksuit and an elongated sock over his eyes.
Cox’s Daredevil made us feel sorry for the character at times while marvelling at his perseverance and recklessness at others.
As did Vincent D'onofrio's Wilson Fisk.
Two characters at the opposite end of the spectrum, with the goal of saving the city, albeit on their own terms and by force if necessary, both inspired by the events of their childhood.
But let’s speak about Murdock for a minute.
Other than his obvious lack of sight, Matt Murdock struggles with his faith in God and his Catholic upbringing, and an intense desire to hurt the people who hurt his city.
And for 3 seasons Murdock struggles to find a balance between the two sides of him, without any success.
In one of his conversations with Father Lantom, he says:
Why did he put the devil in me? Why do I feel it in my heart and my soul clawing to be let out if that’s not all part of God’s plan?
Conflict lies in the heart of the show. Which is why no religious character in the show is perfect in their practices.
In Season 2, we witness a former Catholic, Frank Castle, murdering criminals as The Punisher.
The first half of Season 2 hangs in balance with their battles- both physical and ideological over the importance and sanctity of a human life.
While neither side is given a definitive edge over the other, the lessons of the Church on human life flies right in the face of Castle’s tragedy. However, the outright effectiveness of his methods doesn’t let you dismiss him either.
Both Bernthal and Cox play their parts to perfection, and the regular interactions between them, whether with violence or simply verbal, gets you conflicted about the line Daredevil is so eager to but isn’t willing to cross.
Season 3 explores his conflict even more. Murdock in his desperation to get rid of Fisk makes peace with the idea of taking lives. He is willing to give up his friends, family, a normal life just to see Fisk gone.
And Fisk is an amalgamation of contradictions, a blend of pure monstrosity and endless patience forcing even the audience to beg the question as to what his true motives were.
Showrunner Erik Oleson does follow the Season 1 tradition of villain flashbacks.
However, he allows Fisk to watch the show as a silent spectator to Poindexter’s troubled childhood, patiently watching every detail that enables him to move the pieces just enough to manipulate the narrative exactly as he wants.
Quite honestly, it reminds you of the way The Joker manipulated Harvey Dent to become Two-Face.
Agent Nadeem plays the equivalent of the everyday common man living his life when the buildings start dropping as the heroes and villains take it out on the streets.
The fight sequences hold their own. One, in particular, that will splendidly remind you of the claustrophobic hallway scene is the chaotic prison riot scene involving a drugged Matt Murdock.
Daredevil distils the difference between good and bad so much that you almost root for the wrong guy at times. In a world of CW heroes, it sets the bar high, almost too high for any other superhero show to catch up. Not now, not in a while at least.