The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been welcoming to both ardent comic book fans and complete newcomers alike, conjuring storylines inspired by the page but never slavishly beholden to the source material. So what comic book storyline is Daredevil Season 3 based on? By now, fans of Netflix's Marvel franchise — and the wider MCU in general — should be used to the way writers put their own original spin on classic Marvel Comics plots. And it looks like they're pulling out all the stops for the third solo outing of the Devil of Hell's Kitchen.
"I am not doing a direct translation of any of the comics," showrunner Erik Oleson told Screen Rant about Season 3. "I think that would have been a mistake. I want to give the audience what they want, but not in the way they expect it." That being said, he did have some specific influences when it came to crafting the overall arc of the new episodes. "My hope was to draw inspiration from comics — the comics like 'Born Again' and 'Guardian Devil,'" he revealed, referring to two popular Daredevil arcs. "There's certainly moments that resonated for me tonally that I used as inspiration."
Even though Oleson insists that Season 3 will be an "original story," just knowing which Marvel comics arcs he drew from when shaping the season should give fans clues as to what will go down for Matt Murdock this year. Both "Born Again," which was written by Frank Miller and ran from February through August 1986, and "Guardian Devil," written by Kevin Smith and running from November 1998 through June 1999, deal with heavy themes of religion — and the utter spiritual, emotional, and mental destruction of Matt Murdock. The Season 3 trailer leans into these themes, the first shot of Daredevil showing the hero perched on top of a giant cross, and also featuring glimpses of churches and rosaries and nuns galore.
The action of "Born Again" begins when a destitute Karen Page — who quit the law to pursue a career as an actress, only to fail and become a drug-addicted adult film star — selling the secret of Daredevil's true identity to Wilson Fisk in order to buy more drugs. After narrowly surviving an assassination attempt, a rattled Murdock takes refuge with his estranged mother, a nun named Sister Maggie (much like where an injured Matt was left at the end of The Defenders). Like Salieri in Amadeus, Fisk becomes determined to not just kill his enemy, but destroy him psychologically first.
Fisk hires a lunatic to wear a Daredevil suit and and attack Karen in order to draw the hero out of hiding. When that fails, he hires Nuke (the alter ego of the Jessica Jones character known in the MCU as Will Simpson) to assault Hell's Kitchen, but the Avengers show up and take him down, foiling Fisk's plans for the time being.
In "Guardian Devil," a 15-year-old leaves an infant girl with Daredevil, claiming the baby was immaculately conceived. Murdock becomes convinced the child is the Antichrist; Karen learns she contracted HIV from her time as an adult film star; and Foggy is accused of murdering a woman he was having an affair with. Doctor Strange shows up to inform Daredevil that he's been infected with a drug that was responsible for his delusional, apocalyptic thinking. Then Bullseye shows up, slaughters a bunch of nuns, kills Karen, and kidnaps the baby.
Eventually, it's revealed that the whole plot — including Karen's false diagnosis and Foggy's frame job — was the work of frequent Spider-Man nemesis Mysterio, dying of cancer caused by his own hallucinogenic gases and determined to bring down a hero once and for all before his death. Daredevil foils his plot and, after Mysterio kills himself, gives the baby up for adoption and uses the money from Karen's will to reopen his shuttered law firm.
Obviously, not all of this will make the leap from page to screen. The Avengers almost certainly won't show up in Hell's Kitchen; Mysterio is being saved for the upcoming sequel Spider-Man: Far From Home (played by Jake Gyllenhaal); and Karen probably (hopefully) won't be a drug-addicted adult film star in Season 3. But other aspects — like the return of Wilson Fisk and the introduction of Bullseye — will turn up in the new season. Does that also mean that Deborah Ann Woll's Karen Page will meet a tragic fate? Fans will just have to watch and find out.