Daredevil season three, which dropped in its entirety on Friday, is arguably the best season of the Marvel-Netflix series so far. With the addition of a new, emotionally complex enemy, the return of an old favorite and Matt Murdock’s struggle with faith and identity, the season, overseen by first-time showrunner Erik Oleson, is a return to form for the series. But with the recent cancellations of Iron Fist and Luke Cage, what does the future hold for Daredevil?
[Ed. note: This post contains major spoilers for Daredevil season three.]
A bullseye of an ending
The final scene in Daredevil’s third season depicts FBI agent Benjamin Poindexter on the operating table, undergoing surgery for his spine after being crushed by Wilson Fisk during a climactic three-way battle between him, Fisk and Daredevil. To those who are familiar with Daredevil comic book lore, it was a significant moment, teasing out Dr. Oyama, Cognium steel and the bullseye symbol.
Dr. Oyama is known in the X-Men comic-book universe as Lord Dark Wind, the father of Lady Deathstrike and the creator of the adamantium infusion process that gave Wolverine his shiny claws. Cognium steel is Marvel’s way of using adamantium without infringing on its contract agreement with Fox, the company that currently owns the X-Men movie rights (at least until that Disney-Fox deal is sealed). So, according to this scene, Dex’s spine is being repaired with cognium steel, aka adamantium (wink wink), giving him the heightened powers Bullseye has in the comics.
And with the classic Bullseye symbol zoomed in on in Dex’s eyes, this pretty much guarantees that Bullseye will be the main villain in Daredevil season four, fully-formed and ready to take on Daredevil once again. That is, if there is a season four — this month Netflix canceled both Iron Fist and Luke Cage (though the company alluded to both returning in some capacity).
Before we get into what these cancellations could mean for the future of Daredevil, let’s talk about The Kingpin and our hero.
A deal with the devil
Throughout this season, Fisk has not only been obsessing about the well-being of his love, Vanessa, but about whether or not Matt Murdock is Daredevil. But thanks to Karen Page’s not-so-subtle facial expression during their confrontation in his hotel room, in which Fisk asks her point blank if Matt is Daredevil, his suspicion is confirmed.
Fisk spent season three framing Daredevil in a string of murders and trying to murder Matt Murdock for learning too much about how we was able to weasel his way out of prison. By the end, the big bad pulled double-duty in trying to frame Daredevil, and make Matt’s life a living hell by sending Dex to murder Karen Page.
While wrestling with his faith, healing from his wounds and trying to come to terms that Sister Maggie is his estranged mother, Matt goes back and forth on whether he should just murder Fisk, knowing that it’ll make everyone’s lives so much easier. But after Foggy and Karen convince Matt to give the justice system one more chance, and have FBI Special Agent Ray Nadeem atone for his sins and testify against Fisk, things go from bad to worse.
Fisk gets to the jurors and threatens their families. Nadeem is then murdered by Dex. And that’s when Matt decides that murdering Fisk is the only option left, much to the dismay of Karen and Foggy. But right when Matt Murdock has the chance to do it, as Fisk prods him on, Matt stops himself, of course. Because he realizes Fisk wants Matt to murder him, because that means he would have crossed the line between hero and villain, making Daredevil just as bad as the Kingpin. Matt refuses, his faith in himself, and his strong Catholic upbringing, restored.
After the two strike a deal — Fisk won’t reveal Matt’s Daredevil identity if Matt protects Fisk’s now-wife Vanessa while he’s in prison — and seal it with handshake, that’s it. Matt, Foggy and Karen are all friends again, with talk about reforming their law partnership, this time making Page a full partner. And they laugh, probably for the first time this season. It’s a nice, mostly-optimistic ending for Daredevil’s darkest season yet.
The question of Daredevil season 4
Besides the Bullseye tease, Daredevil’s season three wraps up with a nice little bow. The show teases Bullseye’s technological enhancements, but leaves us with a bigger, burning question: Will there even be a Daredevil season four?
Nobody but Netflix knows. But if Daredevil’s fate on Netflix is the same as Iron Fist and Luke Cage, what a way to go. Not only does it end with hope on the horizon for Matt, Karen and Foggy, but Matt now has estranged mother, Sister Maggie back in his life. And at the same time, if there is a season four, there’s the potential for the rise of a new villain, one of Daredevil’s greatest adversaries, in the form of Bullseye.
As strong as season three of Daredevil was, here’s hoping Netflix grabs the devil by the horns and graces us with another installment.
Charlie Moss is a freelance writer based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He has written for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Slate, Vice, Paste and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @chachimoss.