Everyone loves a big team-up crossover. After years of building up to it, Netflix’s corner of the MCU finally reached that with last August’s The Defenders. Of course, the only problem with a big crossover event is that, much like fans started questioning after The Avengers came together on the big screen, you start wondering why the hero can’t just call on their friends for help in their own solo series.
Take Daredevil season 3, for example. Matt Murdock’s at his lowest ebb as his nemesis Wilson Fisk has got himself out of jail while he’s still recuperating from his near-death experience at the end of The Defenders. So, why doesn’t he give the likes of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist – heck, even the Punisher – a ring for some much-needed assistance?
ComicBook.com put this tricky question to showrunner Erik Olsen and he revealed that, while calling the Defenders for help would have been logistically possible, it’s just not something Matt would have thought to do as he sees his ongoing battle with Fisk as his own fight and no one else’s.
“Well, there’s a number of reasons. There’s the story reason of that Matt feels that it is his responsibility that Fisk’s release in large part is on him for not having taken care of it the first time around, or the second time around. And so Matt Murdock is determined to right the wrongs that he himself set in motion.”
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Olsen went on to say that it’s also because of the very dark place Matt Murdock is in at the beginning of season 3. As with cutting out his old pals Foggy Nelson and Karen Page from his life, Matt’s not in a position to seek help from anyone as he’s essentially on a mission of self-destruction.
“He also, in a kind of a spiritual way, feels like God is speaking to him and is putting in front of him a raison d’etre, a reason to keep going and to keep existing after his heartbreaking life turn at the end of Defenders, where he walked out of the building, Elektra did not. And in episode one of this season, Matt essentially attempts suicide by thug. So he has spiritual and emotional reasons for why he doesn’t call in the Defenders.”
Honestly, the issue of why a hero can’t just get some help from their super-friends is one that’s warranted in many a Marvel product. However, Daredevil season 3 neatly deals with it without ever bringing it up through the reasons Olsen describes above. Plus, the handy thing about the Defenders is that, arguably unlike the Avengers, they’re all loners and don’t work well in a team. So, of course they’re not going to go to each other for back-up.
On the other hand, Olsen came clean to ComicBook.com by saying that, whatever the in-universe reasons, bringing the Defenders in was just not something he was ever going to entertain as having so many heroes would ruin the “dramatic tension” of the central conflict between the show’s protagonist and antagonist.
“Then there’s the kind of meta writerly reason why I didn’t want to do that, and if one of the basic rules of great drama writing is that your protagonist must be out gunned by the antagonist or else there’s no dramatic tension. If Matt can simply call Luke Cage and Jessica Jones and Danny Rand to come in and beat these other villains, your dramatic structure is lopsided. It becomes boring. It’s like suddenly the heroes have all the power and the villain is outgunned, and that becomes a major impediment to telling a great story. So that’s the other reason we did it, truthfully.”
Whatever Olsen did, it worked, as Daredevil season 3 is being talked about as the best Marvel/Netflix season since the Man Without Fear first landed on the streaming service back in 2015. And hopefully that’ll be enough to save it from meeting the same fate as Luke Cage and Iron Fist.