Daredevil fans got another treat the other day when it was announced that Wilson Bethel will be reprising the role of Benjamin “Dex” Poindexter, the Marvel Comics villain Bullseye, in the upcoming series Daredevil: Born Again. Bethel’s return is one of several recent indications that Born Again — which was originally intended to be something of a soft reboot of the Daredevil mythos despite bringing back stars of the original Daredevil Netflix series Charlie Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Jon Bernthal — will now be more of a direct sequel, following a creative overhaul that was announced in October.
Given that Cox and D’Onofrio’s characters have also been incorporated into other more fantastical MCU projects, including Spider-Man: No Way Home, Hawkeye, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and Echo, there’s still reason to believe that Born Again will not necessarily be as grounded as the Netflix series, which is relatively realistic for a superhero series. While fans continue to debate whether this is a good thing for the upcoming series’ overall quality, it could definitely benefit how Dex is portrayed. Bethel, and the writers of the Daredevil season Dex appeared in, brought more humanity to the character than the comic book Bullseye typically has and the actor’s portrayal was rightfully praised by fans and critics. But now that the world of Daredevil is more directly connected to the mainstream MCU, some changes can be made to the character to bring him more in line with his comic book counterpart without losing the depth that makes Bethel’s interpretation compelling in the first place.
Created by Marv Wolfman and John Romita Sr. Bullseye first appeared in Daredevil #131 in 1976. A psychopathic criminal, Bullseye is known for his deadly accuracy, which allows him to turn virtually any object, including common, everyday items, into potentially deadly weapons, with his skills seemingly bordering on the level of superhuman. He became one of the titular superhero Matt Murdock’s most frequently recurring and hated enemies, especially once he killed Matt’s two greatest loves, Elektra Natchios and Karen Page, though the former would eventually be resurrected.
Unlike sympathetic Marvel villains such as Loki, Killmonger, or Magneto, Bullseye is typically presented as being pure evil, with his major motivations being the money he can make for work as an assassin and the enjoyment he gets out of killing. After Daredevil defeated him in some of their early encounters, he also became obsessed with proving he is a superior fighter to the Man Without Fear. Bullseye’s true identity and history before becoming a super villain were unknown for decades, but Marvel has since included some competing accounts of his origins in different comics. While most of these backstories (which often contradict one another) describe Bullseye as coming from an abusive home, the sadistic glee the character takes in killing and inflicting pain keeps him completely unsympathetic.
Daredevil’s Dex is a much more nuanced character than his comic counterpart. Although he displayed a lot of disturbed behavior as a child, including killing his baseball coach after the man benched him before Dex could finish pitching a perfect game, he also recognized his issues and worked for years to improve with a therapist, Dr. Eileen Mercer (Heidi Armbruster), that he became close to. Mercer’s eventual death threatened to derail the adolescent Dex’s progress, but he ultimately followed her advice, taking jobs with rigid requirements, including in the military and at a suicide prevention hotline, to bring structure into his life — although he at times still acted inappropriately, like secretly stalking one of his co-workers, Julie Barnes (Holly Cinnamon), that he became obsessed with.
When he is introduced in Daredevil Season 3, he is serving as a sharpshooter for the FBI. He is assigned to a motorcade transporting crime lord Wilson Fisk (D’Onofrio), who has recently begun informing on other criminals in exchange for certain accommodations during his incarceration. When the convoy is attacked by one of the rival gangs Fisk sold out, Dex’s skills are put on full display as he almost single-handedly defeats the attackers, rescuing Fisk and several fellow agents. Fisk witnesses him pulling off nearly impossible maneuvers, including ricocheting bullets to strike targets from odd angles and even killing two men by hurling pieces of his gun at them, and is clearly impressed and intrigued.
Although he is praised by some of his colleagues, Dex’s mental state begins to deteriorate when he is put under investigation for excessive force. Fisk takes advantage of his fragile state and begins to manipulate him, even getting access to Mercer’s notes on him. When Dex is officially suspended, he panics and agrees to take on a criminal mission for Fisk. He attacks the offices of The New York Bulletin newspaper, where Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock and his co-workers had arranged an interview with a criminal associate of Fisk’s who would have confirmed that he was manipulating the FBI. Dressed as Daredevil to frame the superhero for his crimes, Dex kills the informant and several newspaper workers and gets into an elaborate battle with Matt.