‘Marvel’s Daredevil’ Season 3 Spoiler Chat: Making the Action Better Than Ever
Executive Producer/Showrunner Erik Oleson talks spoilers and dives into Season 3’s standout action scenes, including the prison sequence everyone is talking about.
Additional reporting by Ryan Penagos and Jamie Frevele.
Note: Full spoilers for “Marvel’s Daredevil: Season 3 follow. If you haven’t seen Season 3 yet, go check it out on Netflix, and then come back here!
Since it began, “Marvel’s Daredevil” has been lauded for its amazing action sequences, especially the fights the title character engages in. The recently-debuted third season raises the bar for the series, with some truly jaw-dropping sequences that fans can’t stop talking about.
Explaining his approach to Marvel.com, “Marvel’s Daredevil” Season 3 Executive Producer and Showrunner, Erik Oleson, explained, “When I came on to the show, I imposed some rules on what the action sequences would be…. Unless something could happen inside that action sequence that actually effects the character or the story, I get bored, personally. There’s so many movies now that can do anything that can be imagined with all the VFX that you have to get back to the principles of storytelling. That’s my personal belief and those were the rules that I imposed on the action sequences in Season 3. What I told the writer’s room in the beginning was that I didn’t want to have an action sequence unless it allowed us to do one of several things. One was it would illuminate a new side of Matt’s character, put him in some moral dilemma that forced him to choose between two rights or two wrongs. No matter what he chose, there would be consequences for it. The second thing was I wanted there to be real stakes. What I meant by that is you know Daredevil’s probably not going to get killed—he’s the title character—so what are the real stakes outside of this fight that could happen if Matt loses?”
Season 3’s fourth episode, “Blindsided,” has an absolutely mesmerizing sequence where Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) must fight his way out of a prison against unbelievable odds. The sequence is a “oner” – a single shot, without any cuts, that follows Matt’s journey for a harrowing, nearly 12-minute, timeframe.
Oleson described the prison fight as “maybe the sequence I am most proud of in my entire career,” noting, “That’s an epic fight that’s hopefully going to get our stunts team an Emmy. In that fight, Matt has no choice but to fight as Matt Murdock to save his life. That was a point of major discussion, because the people in that prison sequence think he’s Foggy Nelson. They don’t know who he is. The real consequence of that fight is now Wilson Fisk is watching. Now, he knowsthat Matt Murdock and Daredevil are the same person. There’s no denying it after that sequence. When you’re watching this, you’re going to like, “This is a great fight, but Fisk is watching! Oh my god!” You realize Fisk is watching this and this is the nightmare scenario. Matt has no choice but to fight his way out of a kill trap.”
As for the exact manner in which it was shot, Oleson remarked, “Credit where credit is due. Alex Garcia Lopez, who was the director of the episode, and Gary Stearns, our stunt coordinator, came to me with the crazy idea of doing the entire prison escape sequence as a oner. We had discussed the idea of doing certain aspects of the show to top the hallway fight in Season 1. We were always looking for opportunities like that, and when they came to me with this plan they thought I was not going to say yes. But I said, ‘Go for it.’ What it meant was that we had the entire film crew stop filming so that they could rehearse that sequence. If anybody knows about TV production, people start to get nervous when the crew says, ‘Hey, we’re going to stop and rehearse’ for like a day. But the end result is spectacular.”
Added Oleson, “I’m so proud of Charlie and Chris Brewster, Charlie’s stunt double, and all the team. It was this magical energy on the set. I was not there, I only got to hear about it, but it was [an environment] in which everybody had to work in sync. Every single member of the crew, for almost 12 straight minutes, could not make a mistake. This involved several fight scenes, a dialogue-heavy emotional scene in the middle of it, going into another fight scene with extras and flashbang grenades and smoke and fire and all of these other elements. All through this single shot, where you’re just hoping that the camera guy just doesn’t get so tired and fall over, and Charlie can actually have his breath and his wits about him to remember the lines in that scene after doing this epic fight sequence. Where you do what’s called cowboy switches, which is where he’s switching with his stunt double within the shot and you can’t even tell where it’s Charlie and where it’s Chris. It was this phenomenal logistical exercise.”
Oleson revealed, “There is one part of that sequence where we go through a darkened hallway with red, flashing lights, during the prison break sequence. We had designed that to be a place where we could have cut the camera and picked up from a different take if we weren’t able to get it in one shot. But they pulled it off! So in post-production, I had them lighten it a little bit so you can tell we never cut the camera. My word of honor, that is a one-take oner!”
As for what it feels like to now see the tremendous response to the sequence, Oleson said, “It’s off the charts awesome. To see that the fans really appreciate the work that went into that sequence, the tweets and the comments online where people jokingly say that that sequence has changed their lives, it’s insanely gratifying that we took a risk. Everybody on the crew took a risk. Charlie and his stunt double took a risk. I took a risk. Marvel took a risk in giving us permission to essentially tell the crew to stop filming for a day so they could rehearse that sequence. If that had not turned out, that’s a very expensive proposition, to idle a crew on the clock for something that ultimately doesn't work would have been a big financial hit. I have to give kudos to them for doing that.”
Regarding other big action scenes in Season 3, Oleson discussed the first time Matt fights Benjamin “Dex” Poindexter (Wilson Bethel), in the sixth episode, “The Devil You Know.”
“Sometimes I wanted Matt to lose a fight and as a result of that, I want bad things to happen. In episode six, we have him go up against Dex in the fake Daredevil costume… Dex comes into The Bulletin and actually beats Matt, and a witness dies as a result,” Oleson remarked.
Said Oleson, “You thought Daredevil was always going to prevail in fights like this, and now, for me, [him losing], that’s better storytelling. Now, I get to watch the action sequences. I get to say, ‘Oh man. If he loses thisone, that’s going to be bad.’ That was, I think, what makes the action sequences a little different this year and a lot more fun, for me, personally, is the storytelling.
Another memorable sequence occurs in the twelfth episode, “One Last Shot,” as Matt and FBI Agent Rahul “Ray” Nadeem (Jay Ali) are attacked while Ray is being moved to a courthouse and Matt must use his powers to help get Ray to safety, without revealing his identity.
As Oleson explained, “We’re always looking for ways to cleverly use Matt’s powers in ways we had not seen before. This was an example where Matt is using his powers to guide Ray to shoot people in non-lethal ways. He’s telling Ray to shoot low so that the guys are hit in the leg and go down. So maintaining the Daredevil code of behavior of not killing anybody, but at the same time, throwing him in ever more impossible situations where his life and other lives are on the line. That was very satisfying. Then of course, as Matt gets out of that van, it’s Matt Murdock, a blind man, walking through an action sequence in broad daylight and making sure that nobody realizes he’s Daredevil and yet he is participating in a very complicated set of maneuvers to get him and Ray Nadeem to safety.”
Oleson recalled, “For me, that was an incredibly challenging sequence which Phil Abraham, the director of the pilot of ‘Daredevil’, directed. We were constantly trying to figure out how to make that work. Sam Ernst, who was the writer of the episode, was on set, and it was a complicated order to set up an action sequence where Matt Murdock would be fighting against gunmen in broad daylight at a traffic jam but none of them could ever realize, even after the fact, that this blind man not only can fight but that he was the one who took them out. That was the fun of that sequence.”
As for the final fight of the season, involving Daredevil, Dex, and Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio), it stands out for how all three of them are trying to stop one another, with no true team-ups occurring, though Oleson noted, “There is a moment where Fisk and Matt are both attempting to prevent Bullseye from kill Vanessa. So there is kind of a the enemy of my enemy is my friend moment within that sequence. And yet, each one of those characters has their own distinct want coming in to this scene.”
Oleson elaborated, “For Matt, it’s to kill Fisk and to end this nightmare. But at the same time, the Matt Murdock in him doesn’t want Vanessa murdered by Bullseye. That complicates what he came to do to the scene. Fisk wants to escape with Vanessa but certainly to defend Vanessa from anybody trying to harm her. Bullseye wants to get revenge against Fisk for murdering Julie by murdering Vanessa. So after that, sure he would have murdered Fisk after he was done with Vanessa. Each one of them had their own distinct want coming in to that sequence which plays out in the way you see them fight onscreen.”
"Marvel’s Daredevil” Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix!
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