There’s something to be said for being the first Marvel-Netflix superhero. While Marvel’s TV universe has never been able to live up to the success of its much bigger, cinematic sibling, and some series have already fallen by the wayside (*cough* Iron Fist *cough*), the first season of Daredevil was something of a miracle. The last adaptation of the tricky comic book character - the 2003 movie starring Ben Affleck - was still painfully fresh in people’s minds and no one was really sure how a Marvel-Netflix team-up would work. Then Daredevil season 1 burst onto the scene with it’s adrenaline-inducing action sequences and heartfelt human stories and all those doubts were blown away in an instance.
From there the Marvel-Netflix universe grew to include other unconventional, but captivating characters, such as the alcoholic PI Jessica Jones and strong man Luke Cage, but while the second season stumbled somewhat, Daredevil was still king of them all. So, is the pressure on to deliver with Daredevil season 3, which hits the streaming service today (October 19)? Showrunner Erik Oleson is surprisingly chill about the whole thing when I sat down to talk to him about the upcoming season earlier this week.
How did you go about creating the story for Daredevil season 3?
“Marvel had some ideas that they were hoping to include in season 3 that they pitched to me. For instance, Vincent D’Onofrio wanted to come back so I knew that I was going to be allowed to use Wilson Fisk (AKA Kingpin), the Marvel bosses had decided that Bullseye was on the table. They knew that I would be allowed to use some of my favourite comic runs as inspiration: Born Again, Guardian Devil among others, and so they kind of laid out this feast in front of me of things that I would be allowed to use if I wanted to use them.
“And I used some of that to go away and craft an original story that also spoke to the real world. I will say, running a Marvel show gives you an opportunity to say something of meaning, it shouldn’t just be mindless entertainment – that’s my own personal feeling. So it’s important to me to use these great toys to do something that means something, and reflects the larger world in which we all live.
“So I took all of those shiny toys and I came back to Marvel with an idea for the season that they ultimately agreed would be a terrific season 3, Netflix agreed and then suddenly I got the magic call where I had [Executive Vice President of Marvel Television] Jeph Lobe say the three magic words that every writer, every showrunner, every actor wants to hear: ‘Welcome to Marvel.’”
Were you nervous about bringing a popular character like Fisk back?
“Well, I wasn’t nervous, I was excited – and using Fisk really served the idea that I had for the season. Season 3 is about fear. Season 3 is about narcissistic tyrants who use fear as a weapon to divide people against each other, to pit us against our friends, to manipulate us so that they can rise in power. That type of personality and presence certainly in the United States but also in many places around the world – the villains who use our fears against us. And that allows me to tell a story which reflected today’s society. So in fact, Wilson Fisk was the perfect villain for season 3 and the story that I wanted to tell.”
Why is it time to introduce iconic Daredevil character Bullseye?
“What interested me was telling the origin story of that character – in the comics, Bullseye is a full-on psychopath, and he’s already at a certain intensity level. One of my goals for season 3 was to tell a grounded, gritty emotionally honest, and realistic story, as if every human being in the show is a real person, and not a comic book character. And so I wanted to tell the story of an FBI sharpshooter who has psychological problems, but could otherwise have been a functional member of society, even a good guy but he falls under the sway of one of these narcissistic tyrant types in Wilson Fisk who draws him to the dark side, and that ultimately slams the FBI agent down the path of becoming Bullseye. But we never call him Bullseye – that hasn’t happened, so it’s… the creation of that iconic character.”
The Netflix-Marvel universe largely ignores the MCU for obvious reasons, but did you know what was going to happen in Avengers: Infinity War?
“The timeline of season 3 of Daredevil takes place before the snap. And that’s great, because until I was at the [Avengers: Infinity War] premiere, I didn’t know about the snap. I didn’t know, nobody knew in TV.
“We’re a part of the MCU, but it’s a wide, diverse group and cast of characters, and a wide group of filmmakers and show creators who are all working together under the same umbrella – the events of the snap are not addressed in season 3. I don’t know if in the future what lies… my friends at Marvel Entertainment are going to think about it, but we’ll have to see how that all plays out.
“Am I artfully enough dodging these questions, because obviously Marvel is very secretive as you know and I have to be careful about what I say here. [Laughs] Please don’t get me fired! [Laughs]”
Can we expect any appearance from the other Defenders in Daredevil season 3?
“I did not do crossovers with the other shows in season 3 because I felt it would be a distraction from the deep story that Matt is experiencing and the audience will be experiencing during the season. My goal for season 3 was to tell a story that bonded the audience emotionally to the characters of Daredevil, where we are experiencing the story as opposed to watching the story, and I used a whole bunch of techniques, storytelling and filmmaking techniques, to try and combine the audience and the characters.
“Cameos and other characters from other shows dropping by for a scene or a small scene or line would ultimately have been too distracting, I felt, so there are no crossovers from any of the other Netflix shows or the movies in season 3.”
Does this mean there’s not as many references or Easter eggs in Daredevil season 3?
“Oh no, there are many, many Easter eggs. Fans of the comic books are going to be delighted by season 3. If you are a fan of the comic books, there will still be many Easter eggs and many recognisable elements that will hopefully give you everything you want, but in a way you might not expect it. At the same time, if you are unfamiliar with the comics and you don’t know anything about it, it won’t matter – you’re going to be able to watch the story and enjoy it regardless; that was the sweet spot for us.”
Let’s talk about the action - can we expect something similar to season 1’s famous corridor fight scene?
“Well, the hallway fight scene in season 1 was iconic and it influenced many shows beyond even Daredevil, and when I came into season 3, I was looking for an opportunity to be able to pay homage to it. And the stunt team, Charlie, Charlie’s stunt double, and one of the guest directors suggested one of the sequences in an early episode could be done as an epic one-shot homage to season 1 and that hallway fight scene. And I think I can safely say that we have one-upped that fight sequence.
“We have this sequence that required me to actually get permission from Marvel to tell the crew that they could stop filming for a day and just rehearse a one-shot fight sequence that goes on for eleven and a half minutes. It is epic... epic. And fans of the hallway fight scene from season 1 are going to be leaping off their couches with excitement when they see what our team pulled off.”
Daredevil season 3 hits Netflix on October 19, 2018.
For more on the hottest new TV shows still to come this year, check out our breakdown of what to expect from the rest of 2018.