Daredevil Season 3 Ending Explained: The Birth of Bullseye

Netflix’s Daredevil season 3 was one of Marvel Television’s strongest shows, the finale left the Man Without Fear’s life transformed. There’s a sense in which Daredevil was Marvel Netflix’s flagship TV show; it was the first to launch in 2015, setting the tone for everything that followed, and all three seasons were a tremendous success. It was universally praised for its casting choices — standouts included Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin — and season 2 even launched a spinoff TV series starring Jon Bernthal as the Punisher.

The relationship between Marvel Television and Netflix sadly collapsed in 2018 and 2019, with Netflix canceling their Marvel shows. Even Marvel Television is now gone, wound down as part of a corporate restructure; Marvel Studios is now responsible for live-action TV shows that release on Disney+, and tend to be much more closely connected to the MCU as a whole. But, remarkably, Netflix’s Daredevil continues to have an impact; recognizing the successful casting of key characters in these shows, the MCU has brought back both Cox and D’Onofrio. It’s currently unclear whether the two actors are playing the same iterations of their iconic characters, or whether Marvel has conducted a soft reboot.


Related: Why Daredevil Returned In The MCU When Other Netflix Characters Haven’t

Given that’s the case, it’s no surprise there’s renewed interest in Erik Oleson’s Daredevil season 3 — a poignant love-letter to some of the most popular comics of all time. The final season of Daredevil released in October 2018, and the show was canceled a month later. Here’s how showrunner Erik Oleson wrapped the series up.

What Happens At The End Of Daredevil Season 3

Daredevil season 3 is a thirteen-episode, ever-escalating grudge match between the Kingpin and the Man Without Fear. Wilson Fisk achieves his three key goals – to get out of jail, marry Vanessa, and restore his good name in the city — and comes close to breaking Matt Murdock. Fortunately, he’s reckoned without Elden Henson’s Foggy Nelson, who receives the dying declaration of FBI Agent Ray Nadeem, testifying to the many crimes he was complicit in due to the Kingpin. A dying declaration is admissible in court, and so Foggy posts it on social media, prompting State police to head to Fisk’s Presidential hotel to arrest the Kingpin again.

Meanwhile, Matt launches a plan of his own. As part of his schemes, Daredevil season 3 saw the Kingpin manipulate FBI Special Agent Benjamin “Dex” Poindexter (Bullseye in the comics) into becoming a murderous fake Daredevil — but Matt figures out how this was done, and discovers Kingpin murdered a woman Pondexter cared about. This leads the psychopath to go on a killing spree at Fisk’s wedding reception, allowing Matt to slip in to the Presidential Hotel. It all climaxes in a brilliant three-way battle between Daredevil, Wilson Fisk, and Poindexter. In the end, Daredevil is able to force Wilson Fisk to agree to go back behind bars, and to leave Matt and his friends alone. Fisk will do this because Matt knows Vanessa was becoming implicated in his world, and threatens to find evidence against Mrs. Fisk. Kingpin can’t abide the idea that Vanessa will wind up in jail. Bloody, beaten, and defeated, he returns to his cell. Poindexter suffers even worse, his back broken.

Nelson, Murdock & Page

Daredevil season 3’s ending reconciles Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, and Karen Page. It forces Matt to face the fact that he needs his friends, and he stops pushing them away, which gives Foggy the chance to pitch an idea. He suggests they get the band back together, establishing the new law firm of Nelson, Murdock & Page. Matt’s in favor, admitting he had a similar idea, and when Karen protests she isn’t a lawyer, he points out she’s a great investigator. As he notes, she’s a whole lot more stable than Jessica Jones.

Related: Thanos’ Snap Can Explain The MCU’s Daredevil & Kingpin Retcon

It’s a poetic close to the series, ending Daredevil’s life in a similar place to how it began back in season 1. And yet, each one of the three has grown so much as a person over the course of the years. Matt is learning that he needs people, and he’s opened up and revealed his secret identity to both Foggy and Karen. Foggy is a confident attorney in his own right, having demonstrated his skills and even made a bid to become DA. And Karen is no longer the secretary (sorry, office administrator) but is now employing her investigative skills in helping collect evidence.

Bullseye Is Born

Wilson Bethel as Bullseye in Daredevil

Daredevil season 3’s Dex Poindexter is the man who becomes Bullseye in the comics, one of Daredevil’s most ferocious foes. The Marvel/Netflix version is a sociopathic FBI agent who gradually falls under Wilson Fisk’s influence. The Kingpin manipulates Poindexter into suiting up as a Daredevil impostor, and the FBI agent proves more than a match for the Man Without Fear in several brutal battles. He’s also responsible for a number of atrocities, murdering witnesses and even a priest while wearing the Daredevil mask. Poindexter is badly injured in Netflix’s Daredevil season 3 finale, with Fisk breaking his back when he slams the assassin against the edge of a brick wall. A final scene reveals Poindexter agreed to undergo experimental surgery to repair his back; the camera focuses in upon his eyes, and showed a Bullseye in them. Daredevil season 3, then, is an origin story for Bullseye.

In the comics, Bullseye’s back was broken in the classic Daredevil #181. This is the famous story in which Bullseye murders Elektra before being taken down by Daredevil — falling from a height, and refusing to allow Daredevil to save him. Bullseye wound up undergoing a similar surgical procedure that implanted the unbreakable metal Adamantium in his spine. The medic in charge of the experimental surgery at the end of Daredevil season 3 is Dr. Oyama — clearly Kenji Oyama, a wealthy surgeon in the comics who had mastered the secrets of Adamantium. He was the one who created the Adamantium infusion process used on Wolverine, meaning Daredevil season 3 actually sets up Wolverine.

Vanessa Is More Dangerous Than Kingpin

Vanessa returns to Wilson Fisk’s side towards the end of Daredevil season 3, and she swiftly proves to be even more dangerous than the Kingpin. She insists on being involved in every part of the Kingpin’s world, but she’s less cautious, and frankly seems even more bloodthirsty. In one significant scene, she rejects the advice to leave FBI Agent Ray Nadeem alive, instead, telling Fisk to have him killed because she doesn’t believe in leaving threats around. Ironically, this decision ultimately leads to Fisk’s undoing; had Nadeem not been shot, his statement would have been considered hearsay and thus inadmissible in court.

Related: Upcoming Phase 4 MCU Movies & Shows Daredevil Could Appear In

Under the terms of his deal with Daredevil, the great Marvel villain Kingpin is going to prison, but his wife is staying out. Wilson Fisk will take sole blame for his criminal enterprises, portraying Vanessa as little more than a trophy wife who had no idea what he was really involved in. But as the Kingpin’s wife, Vanessa will inherit all his wealth. She’s already shown all the instincts of a crime boss in her own right, and she could easily choose to take over the Kingpin’s operation. If she does, Daredevil season 3’s ending demonstrates that Vanessa will be a very dangerous figure indeed.

Daredevil Season 3 Is About Matt Murdock Becoming The Man Without Fear

At the end of Netflix’s Daredevil season 3, Matt Murdock speaks at Father Lantom’s funeral. It’s a powerful speech, and it serves an important purpose in that it outlines the show’s narrative theme. Daredevil season 3 is all about conquering of fear. As Matt reflects, Father Lantom’s goal for Matt was that he become a man without fear; a man who stops pushing others away, fearing they will leave him or that he’ll let them down, but who instead draws his friends close. That’s smartly symbolized by Matt’s decision to pay one more visit to his newly-discovered mother, a beautiful hint he’s almost ready for forgiveness and reconciliation.

In truth, almost all the characters in Daredevil season 3 must face their fears. Karen, for example, is forced to confront her fear that she is beyond redemption for the deaths of her brother and James Wesley. She first tells Matt about Wesley, and then, moments later, blurts out the truth about her brother’s death as well; it’s as though the pressure has been building up inside her all these years, and she just can’t keep them in any longer. When Matt accepts her, offering her love instead of rejection, her fears crumble to dust.

The Kingpin’s arc, however, is an inversion of this. As his speech in the Daredevil season 3 finale demonstrates, Kingpin’s story ends with him a prisoner due to his fear of losing Vanessa. Daredevil is trusting that fear, more potent than any locks or chains, to keep him behind bars. Where the heroes of Daredevil season 3 conquer their fears, the Kingpin is conquered by his. Matt even unmasks himself to Kingpin, so confident his enemy has been defeated.

Related: Moon Knight Trailer Proves The MCU Can Properly Bring Back Daredevil Now

Daredevil Season 3 Ended The Series – On Netflix

The relationship between Marvel and Netflix broke down, meaning season 3 was the end of Daredevil’s story on Netflix. Fortunately, Daredevil season 3 feels much more complete than the final seasons of other Marvel Netflix shows, because it comes close to wrapping up its story. The one ominous exception was the hint Poindexter is now Bullseye, and it seemed like a clear setup for his return as a nemesis for the Man Without Fear in season 4. Showrunner Erik Oleson actually made a pitch to Netflix, but it was turned down.

What’s Next For Daredevil & Kingpin In The MCU

Hawkeye Kingpin red shirt

Disney was contractually restricted from using the Marvel Netflix characters for two years after the cancellation of their shows. Once those restrictions had expired, though, Marvel wasted no time incorporating some of the biggest stars of Daredevil into the MCU — with Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin returning as an active crime boss in Hawkeye, and Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock appearing as Peter Parker’s lawyer in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Kingpin was apparently killed in the Hawkeye finale, but the scene was lifted straight from the comics and so it’s almost certain he survived.

It’s currently unclear whether the MCU’s Kingpin and Hawkeye are the same iterations of the characters seen in Daredevil, or whether they’re actually soft reboots; the MCU’s Phase 4 has embraced the multiverse, after all, meaning nothing should be ruled out. Still, Vincent D’Onofrio has insisted he played his MCU Kingpin as a continuation of the Marvel Netflix character, and subtle details in the Kingpin costume call out Daredevil‘s version. If that is indeed the case, then it’s difficult to see how the two got from Daredevil season 3 to their current positions — particularly for Kingpin, who should still be behind bars. The truth will only really become clear if Kingpin and Daredevil ever meet again in the MCU, when viewers find out whether Kingpin knows Daredevil’s secret identity, which was revealed in Daredevil season 3.

More: Daredevil Is Still Marvel’s Best TV Show, Despite Disney+’s MCU Success


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