Daredevil Season 3 hits Netflix this week, and it’s likely to be the most talked-about superhero TV show, maybe one of the most talked-about TV shows in any genre, this autumn.
But if you’ve missed out on the Daredevil hype so far you can still join in the fun.
We’ve put together a handy guide to the show and the main characters so you can dive right into the gritty vigilante action without having to call your comic-geek pal to ask who everyone is.
Ben Affleck’s Daredevil this aint.
First up: Who is Daredevil?
Daredevil, as a character, was a product of the extraordinary burst of creativity from Marvel Comics in the early Sixties that gave us Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor and most of the characters we know from The Avengers movies.
The victim of a childhood accident, Matt Murdock lost his sight. There’s a sort of myth that when we lose one sense the others are boosted to compensate.
Creators Stan Lee and Bill Everett took that idea and ran with it. Matt has a kind of ‘radar sense’ based on a combination of his remaining senses that enables him to ‘see’ his environment better than a sighted person, and even tell whether someone is lying from minor variations in their heart rate.
That comes in handy in Matt’s day job as a defence lawyer, but by night – when he dons his iconic red horned suit to become vigilante Daredevil – is when those powers are used to their fullest.
The son of a boxer, Daredevil is a skilled hand-to-hand combatant and has been trained in the ways of the ninja.
It’s also relevant that, more than any other superhero he’s pretty religious, Daredevil’s deep moral sense is informed by his Catholic upbringing.
He’s played in the Netflix adaptation by British actor Charlie Cox, who you may have spotted in Boardwalk Empire or (briefly) Downton Abbey.
Next: Where is Daredevil set?
One of the notable differences between Marvel superheroes and the denizens of the DC Universe is that while the likes of Superman and Batman are based in fictional cities such as Metropolis and Gotham City, Marvel’s heroes live and operate in (mostly) real-world locations.
Daredevil is one of the most geographically specific characters of the entire Marvel pantheon, defending the people of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen district and only rarely venturing beyond its borders.
Finally: who are the villains?
Any hero is only as exciting as his villain. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is widely regarded as the most compelling bad guy in the Marvel movies, and on TV there are few to match David Tennant, who as The Purple Man – nemesis of Daredevil’s fellow Netflix hero Jessica Jones – is frankly terrifying.
Daredevil’s hugely well-received first season matched him against a classic Marvel comics villain – The Kingpin. Played by Vincent D’Onofrio, who you might remember as that creepy guy who was full of bugs in Men In Black, The Kingpin, real name Wilson Fisk, is a formidable physical opponent but his real power is as a master manipulator and peddler of influence.
Matt managed to put the plus-sized gang boss behind bars by the end of Season One. Season two saw the introduction of gun-toting antihero The Punisher and mysterious assassin Elektra.
The next time we saw Daredevil was in team-up miniseries The Defenders where he joined forces with fellow Marvel-Netflix heroes Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist to take down a menacing army of ninjas led by Sigourney Weaver.
He was missing, presumed dead at the end of that titanic battle, but now he’s recovering in the care of an order of nuns – he’s Catholic, remember? – and almost ready to get back on the street.
But unfortunately The Kingpin has served part of his sentence and is ready to get back on the street as well. And one of his first jobs will be to get even with the crime-fighting vigilante who put him behind bars.
His method of revenge involves yet another classic Marvel Comics character – Bullseye, alias Agent Poindexter. Deadly with almost any weapon, be it a pistol or a paperclip, Bullseye is more than a match for Daredevil physically.
But, worse, he is more than a match for him psychologically too. By impersonating our hero and ruining his reputation Bullseye will try to turn the whole of Hell’s Kitchen against Daredevil. Will that be too much for our hero to bear?
Only one way to find out.
Daredevil is on Netflix from Friday, 19 October.