What Makes, Daredevil, The Man Without Fear So Compelling?
As the latest season of Marvel’s Daredevil hits Netflix, fans wait with bated breath for Matt Murdock’s vengeance-fueled pursuit of justice. However, why has the Man Without Fear withstood the test of time?
Let’s take a look and find out.
Justice Is Blind
After an accident involving a chemical truck, a young Matt Murdock loses his sight when they burn his eyes. For most potential superheroes, that would be the end of their journey. However, this event gives Matt superhuman senses, allowing him to perceive the world better than any mere mortal possibly could.
He can hear a siren from miles away, taste gunpowder in the air, and track the slightest scent. He can even tell if someone is lying. Matt’s view of the world is one of pure perception, one where his eyes cannot deceive him. Murdock’s co-creator, Stan Lee, has stated that many blind fans have thanked him for creating a character with a handicap.
Matt’s innate toughness, imbued in him by his boxer father, helped him control the superhuman senses bestowed upon him. With strict tutelage from a blind martial artist named Stick, Daredevil is one of the Marvel Universe’s most talented fighters. Even seasoned warriors, like Wolverine and Captain America, cannot defeat him despite his lack of sight.
Law & Order
Along with his nighttime heroism, Matt Murdock is also a lawyer. Unlike most other heroes, both sides of Matt pursue justice (both legally and illegally). Therefore, because he is blind, most of Matt’s enemies in and out of court underestimate him. However, Matt uses this to his advantage.
Despite his abilities, Matt is only human, and, sometimes, lawyers lose cases (even when they’re representing the innocent). When the legal system fails, Matt uses Daredevil to right society’s wrongs. This constant pursuit of justice is incredibly admirable. Daredevil doesn’t have a family to support. Plus, his friends, Foggy Nelson, and Karen Page, often end up forgotten in his one-man mission for justice.
The Devil Of Hell’s Kitchen
In Frank Miller‘s The Man Without Fear, Matt’s father, Jack, refuses to throw a fight run by gangsters. In light of his refusal, they murder him. In the boxing ring, Jack earned the title: “Jack ‘The Devil’ Murdock.” Matt decides to give his vengeful alter-ego the name “Daredevil” in honor of his father.
Murdock’s jurisdiction is Hell’s Kitchen. In this world, Hell’s Kitchen is overrun with crime and corruption. The dark alleyways and tall buildings always conceal something sinister. As Matt leaps from rooftop to rooftop, beating thugs to a pulp, he embodies the merciless ferocity of Satan himself.
His costume is a horned mask, with red-covered eyes, and a skintight suit. Sometimes, like in the Marvel/Netflix show, this suit is heavily armored against bullets and knives. But, more often than not, Daredevil trusts his senses and reflexes to help him avoid harm. Unlike other street-level heroes, like Luke Cage and Iron Fist, Daredevil carries on an air of superstition among his enemies.
Many believe he is a demon due to the way he finds enemies and dispatches them. Fans consider him Marvel’s Batman, but, if anything, he might be even tougher. The only gadgets he carries are two billy clubs disguised as his cane. The clubs can be used as nunchucks, throwable objects, a staff, and even a grappling hook.
If these fail, he relies on his wits and fists to save the day.
Salvation Or Damnation?
This section focuses on one of the most fascinating facets of Matt’s personality — his Catholic beliefs. As a vigilante, he spends his nights betraying the lessons of acceptance, pacifism, and love that the Catholic Church teaches. In order to spread fear throughout Hell’s Kitchen, Matt takes it upon himself to become their devil.
This internal conflict over doing good is what drives the character.
However, Matt isn’t all ultra-violent. His Catholic upbringing and kind father provided him with an overwhelming empathy that he uses to help victims of crime. Channeling his Catholic guilt into helping people as a vigilante, lawyer, or human is what lightens Matt’s heavy soul.
Hell’s Kitchen harbors villains looking to kill The Man Without Fear, Daredevil, and profit from the sufferings of others. Daredevil’s villains range from crime bosses, like The Owl, to secret ninja organizations, like the Hand. However, Matt’s two archenemies are Bullseye and The Kingpin.
1. Wilson Fisk (The Kingpin)
The Kingpin is the source of almost all crime in New York City. His legitimate public identity, Wilson Fisk, preaches philanthropy and innocence. He does this while his criminal alter-ego murders, steals, and finances the criminal underworld.
Similar to Daredevil, he is a man of dual identities who feels that what he’s doing is right. He is the moral and intellectual antithesis of Murdock, and he packs a wallop during a fight.
Bullseye is Daredevil’s opposite. He is a crazed psychopath with a pinpoint-accurate aim. He can turn any object into a deadly weapon. Bullseye is responsible for killing two of Matt’s most famous love interests: Elektra and Karen Page. His lack of a conscience and fast reflexes make him a match for Daredevil in almost every way. He will make his first live-action appearance since 2003 in season three of Netflix’s Marvel’sDaredevil.
The Devil Of Netflix
With 2003’s Daredevil – starring Ben Affleck – considered the main representation of Matt Murdock, Netflix chose to create its own show. The showrunner, Steven S. DeKnight, created a truly unique and faithful adaptation of the comic series.
The show split its time between the rise of Daredevil and the rise of Fisk. This helped the audience root for both the hero and villain. Also, instead of focusing on special effects, like the aforementioned movie, Netflix’s Daredevil never shows how Matt sees the world. The show just has him living within it.
Season two introduces Frank Castle A.K.A., The Punisher, to the MCU. This helped test and understand the moral pillars holding each character up. The Punisher believes that criminals don’t deserve a second chance, and he is preventing crime by killing them. He shows this belief through quotes like the following:
When you hit them, they get back up. When I hit them, they stay down.
Frank Castle (Season Two, Daredevil)
Nevertheless, Matt, due to his Catholic beliefs of forgiveness, thinks that criminals should receive a second chance. This is to ignite the tiniest spark of good that lies within them.
The Man Without Fear?
Matt shows determination and is as tough as nails, but he is still racked with guilt and self-doubt. Despite his alter-ego as, The Man Without Fear, Matt is afraid. His fear of failure, death, and becoming a monster all hinder and elevate this character. So, why is he called, The Man Without Fear?
Because, despite feeling fear, he doesn’t let it own him. Daredevil might be the most relatable hero out there because he gets back up and continues fighting. Matthew Murdock is what we should strive to be, not fearless, but able to harness our fear to become stronger.