(Warning: This story contains MAJOR spoilers for the third season of “Marvel’s Daredevil)
Marvel finally added one of Daredevil’s greatest enemies in the third season of the Netflix drama… sort of.
The name “Bullseye” is never mentioned during the season and he never wears his notorious comics costume (a blue and white-striped bodysuit with a literal bulls-eye target on his forehead). The closest thing we get is a flashback scene to Bullseye as a little kid playing Little League baseball, wearing a hat with the bulls-eye on its front.
But the season gives viewers something that has never been provided before — a canonical origin story for Bullseye, played here by Wilson Bethel. That decision, showrunner Erik Oleson tells TheWrap, was essential in making the supervillain fit into the show without being a distraction.
“By telling an origin story for how an FBI sharpshooter is corrupted and psychologically manipulated into becoming the villain who will eventually become Bullseye, we were able to really ground the show,” Oleson tells TheWrap. “As opposed to just introducing the full-blown psychopath comic book character, who I think would’ve been a distracting and jolting presence.”
“There is no set-in-stone backstory for him,” Olseon continued. “That gave us the ability to tell the story of a character who might never have become Bullseye if he not fallen under the sway of a narcissistic tyrant who brings out the worst in people.”
In the comics, Bullseye debuted in Daredevil Vol 1 131 (1976) already deep in his career as the costumed psychopath with perfect aim. Over the years, he’s provided multiple backstories that he also admits are at least partially made up. He’s also claimed several different “real” name, variously calling himself Leonard, Lester, and Benjamin Poindexter.
This season of the Netflix series declares that Poindexter is Bullseye’s real name. An ace FBI sharpshooter with very troubled past, “Dex” as he known to his colleagues is gradually manipulated by Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onfrio), until he’s turned into a willing and very enthusiastic participant in Fisk’s plan to destroy Matt Murdock’s life — and Daredevil’s.
Oleson says that Poindexter’s path into villainy also ties into his season-long theme for the show: Fear. “Bullseye has inner fear as well,” said Olseon. “Once Fisk understands how to use [that fear], to exploit it, to kind of knock the legs out from under him and psychologically manipulate him into what we becomes, that became a way of guiding the introduction of the character.”
And if we see him again as the psychopathic villain that comic book fans are familiar with, it’ll be layered over the tragedy of what Poindexter could’ve been if he never came into the cross-hairs of Fisk.
“He could have continued to be an FBI sharpshooter who was saving peoples’ lives and was a productive member of society,” Oleson argued, adding that it was another a way of showing the destructive powers of Fisk. “He took a guy who might have otherwise a decent member of society and basically handed him a tiki torch to march through Charlottesville, drew out the worst aspects of him, and turned him into a villain.”
In the meantime, although he hasn’t yet become “Bullseye,” the final scene of the season hints that it’s very likely to happen if the show is renewed for a fourth season. Read more about that here.