This piece is the continuation of my “Why I Love” series. During this series, I’m focusing on things I love in comics. Be it characters, certain stories, themes, whatever. Positive thinking only. Since my first piece, I’ve noticed more bickering and hate within the comic book community. Maybe that will never stop, but I’m hopeful. The first installment of my series was my piece on the new Green Lanterns, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. Their struggle and relationship make them one of my favorite duos in comics today. Pair that with the fact they represent diversity in comics, and I’m hooked. They don’t have much in common with the hero I want to talk about today when you compare them. But, they couldn’t be more similar given the one, singular trait they all have in common. Struggle. We all go through it. Some overcome it, and as life works itself out, some do not. Our struggles don’t define us though. It’s how we overcome them. I know it’s a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. The hero I want to talk about today struggles almost more than anyone in comics. He’s not really a tragic character like a Captain Atom, but the burden he bears is heavy. Whether that burden needs to be carried by him or not doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But to him, it does. To him, he’s guilty just for the thoughts he has, even though they are completely normal. Completely sane. But he wants better from himself. He expects better from himself. Sometimes, it’s all too much though. That’s why I love Matt Murdock. Welcome to my piece on Why I Love Daredevil.
Don’t know who Daredevil is? Well, I would highly recommend watching his Netflix show or reading his comics. Either are a great way to understand this character. I’ve heard and have been told that he’s the poor man’s superhero. Or the poor man’s Batman. Maybe that’s why I like him. Matt Murdock doesn’t come from much. He’s a poor, white Catholic male from Hell’s Kitchen. You talk about someone who has every excuse in the book to go down the wrong path. Matt was bullied as a child, had his family taken from him, and was blinded before the age of 10. This is a small reason I love this character, but his will is instilled at him at such a young age. Even before the murder of his father. It’s almost divine, this sense of worth Matt Murdock has. He doesn’t need much to enjoy life. Mainly because enjoying life for Matt is helping those who can’t help themselves. People love to say this word a lot. But Matt, from a very young age, wanted to learn the law. He wanted to learn the rules of the world around him. In that quest to learn the rules, he gained an obsession with that one word. Justice.
Justice. Justice. Justice. It’s a cool word, isn’t it? To me, it’s one of those words people throw around when you’re trying to make a point. The literal definition of the word is just behavior or treatment. Or the quality of being fair and reasonable. It’s the one thing Matt Murdock searches for as a hero and as a citizen in the United States. Matthew Murdock was blinded as a child by some chemicals resulting from a car accident. What was he doing? Saving a man of course. His father was murdered by the mob. Matt’s father used to be an enforcer for the mob. Matt decided to become a lawyer so he could help people. That’s the main reason I love this character. Not many superheroes are real life heroes outside of their superhero lives. Batman wastes his identity as Bruce Wayne, Hal Jordan doesn’t do much when he’s not flying around space, and even the more noble men such as Tony Stark aren’t as hands on as Murdock is. He’s a defense attorney. And no, he doesn’t just defend rich snobs. Quite the opposite, actually. Matt Murdock defends the innocent. He’ll defend anyone. Any race, any gender, any religious denomination, even though he himself is Catholic. He doesn’t discriminate, but we’ll get to the importance of his character later. He’s just obsessed with doing the right thing, similar to Spider-Man. Both have different personalities but are two of the most gold-hearted characters ever created in comics. This idea of right and wrong is simple to him. If there’s a clear path, there’s no other option. Even if that means consequences. Matt learned this from his father. Ole’ Battlin’ Jack Murdock was a boxer who was supposed to throw a fight against an opponent. Jack instilled in his son the importance of never staying down, never quitting. Throwing the fight would not only hurt his pride, but it would destroy the lessons he had taught his son. So, Jack defeated his opponent and paid the ultimate price. I know superheroes are supposed to be a class of elite humans. They are ALL said to have unbreakable wills. I personally don’t believe many are in the same league of toughness as Daredevil. No physical powers, other than his heightened senses, but he never gives up. He’s been homeless, stabbed multiple times, and beaten half to death. If you think I’m overstating, go read Born Again or watch episode 2, season 1 of his show. One of the toughest fights I’ve ever seen a superhero in, and he did it while barely 50%.
Despite his toughness, Daredevil does have his weaknesses. No, not alcohol, women (okay, sometimes women) or drugs. And no, it’s not the people he loves. It’s his inner demons. Once again, I’ll state that ALL heroes battle inner struggle. It’s the basic requirement when constructing a hero. No, Matt Murdock’s inner demons are almost quite literal. The symbolism of this character is something I could write about for hours. But, to touch on it lightly, he’s the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen because that’s how he sees himself. Matt is a devout Catholic. A strong believer in his faith. In the comics, and in the television show, the themes of guilt are always talked about when discussing the character. His main villain, Kingpin, is a ruthless gangster. Someone who treats organized crime as the fragile business that it is. Kingpin knows how to do what’s necessary in order to keep his dream alive. If that means killing an elderly woman, that’s what he’ll do. All while maintaining this idea that he’s the one saving humanity. That’s where he and Daredevil’s ideals intersect, but that’s about it. As a religious man, Matt knows he shouldn’t be running around at night, beating up criminals to almost nothing. At the same time, as a man of justice and equality, turning a blind eye to the atrocities of someone like Kingpin makes him feel weak. There’s nothing more cowardly to him than ignoring corruption and injustice. But there’s a fine line between justice and revenge. In Frank Miller’s “The Man Without Fear” a teenage Matt finds the men who killed his father and savagely beat them. It was one of the first moments that he almost let his power go to his head. Temptation runs through his veins as he’s beating a criminal senseless. A criminal who wouldn’t hesitate at the thought of raping a cute blonde girl who had just turned 18, or a criminal who’s been known for trafficking children to satisfy disgusting men. These types of people won’t be missed by society one bit. But it isn’t his place to judge. To Matt Murdock, that’s up to God. He’s spent years learning the law of man and the law of God. The beauty in the character of Matt Murdock is that he sometimes realizes, that either one or both sets of laws, don’t make sense. It drives him insane from time to time. Sometimes, Daredevil has moments of weakness. It must feel good for him to tap into the lunacy of a mind without laws from time to time. He’s such a studious, compassionate man, but every human has their breaking point. And when the best and brightest of us fall, it’s hard to watch.
Matt plays Russian roulette with his villain’s Bullseye’s life.
Matt goes on a rampage through the city after Kingpin finds out his secret identity.
Matt declares himself the Kingpin of New York after losing his mind due to his identity being exposed.
I’ve talked about his toughness, both mentally and physically. I’ve talked about his difficulties dealing with his religious beliefs and his human beliefs. The last thing that makes me love this character so much is what he represents. As a black man, I know how hard the justice system can be on those less fortunate. Thankfully, I haven’t had to go through our justice system, but if I did, I wouldn’t be looked at as favorably as say, a white man. It isn’t an agenda or fake news, those are just facts. Numbers show that if a black man and white man commit the same crime, be it rape or loitering, the black man is more likely to get the worst sentence. Where’s the justice in that? It’s one of the reasons I decided to study Political Science in college. Like Matt Murdock, I wanted to understand the rules of life, even though it seemed like there weren’t any. Matt Murdock is what justice should look like. He’s what we envision our defense attorneys who protect those less fortunate to look like. His passion for the law, his unbreakable belief in helping those who can’t help themselves, it’s something that should be a requirement when becoming a defense attorney. Not how well you know precedent or legal jargon. Let’s not forget that he’s religious as well. Today, in our society, people have a hard time separating their personal beliefs from helping others. We should, but we don’t. Matt doesn’t let his religion guide him. Sometimes he does, but overall, he tries not to.
Him being blind is symbolic too. The symbol of justice we all look to is Lady Justice. And what does she wear on her eyes? A blindfold. Yes, this is a simple connection that even the dumbest of comic fans can make, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Objectivity is something we lack in our judicial system. It something we lack in our everyday lives. Daredevil is the perfect representation of justice because he is blind to the world we see. He truly doesn’t see color. When it comes to love, he doesn’t discriminate. A beautiful girl, black or white, will catch his attention. Most would agree that being blind isn’t on the top of their bucket list, but there’s a beauty in his handicap that makes him a great character. He’s one of those heroes who I’d love to meet, discuss real world issues with and maybe have a few laughs. The only comparison to his character I can make is an obscure one. We all know the ugly history that slavery has in country, right? Well, actually, in the news there’s been a huge debate on whether or not slavery was even that bad, but I’m getting off track. Anyways, what’s one of the first responses you’ll hear from someone when they are slightly defending slavery? In any era? What’s their main defense for holding people against their will, raping the women, and brutalizing them? “It was a different time. Everyone was doing it.” Something along those lines comes out of people’s mouths when defending gross acts in human history. The character of Daredevil is similar to that of a white abolitionist during slavery. Somewhere, in one of those racist states, some white man, decently wealthy, looked at slavery and said, “This isn’t right.” And given every opportunity to rape, trade, and sell blacks, they stood up against the system for whatever reason, and said to hell with this. Matt Murdock is that type of brash, rare character. It’s fun to dream of the good defense attorney’s do for lower status people. But, it just doesn’t happen. Daredevil stands up in the face of incredible odds, and says, to hell with this.
Despite all of that, Daredevil is cool to watch. His Netflix show showcased some of the best hand-to-hand combat for a superhero television show. I love the low-level street life he deals with. I also love the other aspects of the Marvel Universe he deals with too, be it Elektra or the Hand. But, his values and struggle resonate with me. He’s similar to Batman, but the biggest, obvious difference is the fact Batman comes from privilege. But, also that Batman had to learn his toughness. Yes, I know that toughness isn’t necessarily a learned behavior, but Batman tortured himself for years before coming back to Gotham. He detached himself from the civilized world to learn everything he could about the darkness of humanity. Matt Murdock didn’t need to do that. As if he’s a warrior from God himself, Matt’s toughness and heart has been in him all along. Does that make Batman more impressive? One could argue that, but I find it more impressive that this is who Matt truly is. He can’t change that. One could argue that Batman is a classic, if not the first example of “Fake it til you make it.” Justice, Equality, and Toughness. Those three traits sum Daredevil up. And that’s why I love Matt Murdock. Because, as Kingpin told him…
“That’s what makes you dangerous. It isn’t your mask. Not your skills. It’s your ideology.”