NOTP Tuesday: Karedevil

karedevil

Presenting OTP Tuesday! Each Tuesday I will introduce you to a new One True Pairing! Tune in each week to find out which fictional couple you need to agonize/squee over next. I’m still on my Daredevil rush, but this time I’d like to present a NOTP instead: Karedevil.

Who Are Karedevil?

Karedevil refers to the ship of Matt Murdock (alias Daredevil) and Karen Page from the Marvel Netflix series Daredevil and The Defenders. Please note this article will only discuss MCU Karedevil, and will not cover any comic arcs!

Matt Murdock

Matt Murdock is the titular vigilante hero of Daredevil. As a child, an accident exposed him to strange chemicals that destroyed his sight but enhanced his other senses. Though Matt is technically blind, he can still sense the world around him in vivid detail. He became a lawyer as an adult and opened his own firm with his roommate and best friend Foggy Nelson.

The first case Nelson and Murdock took was Karen Page. Karen was caught up in a conspiracy helmed by Wilson Fisk, the crime overlord of Hell’s Kitchen. While Matt, Foggy, and Karen were fighting Fisk in the courtroom, Matt was also fighting Fisk as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, a mysterious vigilante.

C/O Netflix

After Nelson and Murdock succeed in taking down Fisk, things seem to be going well for Matt. He and Karen, who now works for their firm as an office manager, start heading toward a romantic relationship. Things get off track when Matt’s ex Elektra shows up while Matt is dealing with a violent new vigilante in Frank Castle.

Matt’s relationship with Karen — and the rest of his life — goes off the rails. Eventually, Matt is left alone. He tries to put Daredevil behind him but gets roped back in when the Hand tries to destroy New York City in The Defenders. Matt dons the suit once more, desperate to save a resurrected Elektra, but loses his life in the process.

Or, at least, that’s what everyone thinks. Instead, Matt survives but is changed. He determines to avoid his real life and tries to be just Daredevil. This predictably doesn’t work out, and Matt must learn to balance the two sides of himself to stop Wilson Fisk once more. He manages to do so, but only with the help of Foggy and Karen.

Karen Page

Karen Page grew up in a small town in Vermont. Trapped in her family’s restaurant and unable to strike out on her own, she got into drugs and a bad relationship as her only escape. In the end, Karen ends up killing her brother by accident when she crashes a car with him in it while under the influence.

The local police officer fixes things so Karen won’t face any punishment, but her father asks her to leave. She sets out on her own, desperate and broken, and ends up in New York, where she got a job at Union Allied Construction. However, when she discovered a conspiracy, she soon ends up in over her head.

karedevil
C/O Netflix

Karen’s attempts to expose the conspiracy end with her framed for murder and nearly killed herself. Nelson and Murdock manage to expose her innocence, but Karen is determined to find justice. She ends up taking down the criminal syndicate of Wilson Fisk, but not before murdering Fisk’s employee James Wesley when he tries to intimidate her.

With Fisk out of the way, Karen tries to live a better life, but that’s not easy when you’re in Matt Murdock’s circle. Her relationship with Matt starts to fail and she gets caught up in the case of Frank Castle, finding herself in yet another conspiracy. She also ends up as a reporter for The Daily Bulletin thanks to her investigative skills and persistence.

When Fisk is released from jail, Karen is told to stay away but doesn’t listen. She soon finds herself on the run and the target of Fisk’s extreme ire. Luckily, Matt is back on the scene and is able to save her. Together, they and Foggy are able to rebuild their relationships and take down Fisk once more.

Why Is Karedevil NOTP?

There’s nothing egregiously wrong with Karedevil, not like other ships that make me feel uncomfortable. But in our staff meeting the other night, we got on the topic of why we don’t like Karen Page all that much. For me, I feel like I would like her a lot better if they just stopped trying to push the Karedevil relationship.

C/O Netflix

Karen Page isn’t super interesting or exciting, to be sure, but she’s not a bad character. She has spirit and fights for the truth. I just don’t think she belongs with Matt and it does them both a disservice that the show seems to want us to want that. Sorry not sorry, we’re not buying it.

Unbalanced

Superhero ships are always a little unbalanced. With the exception of ships where both parties are heroes and partners, these ships always end up with one party a powered/enhanced hero and the other a normal person. That makes things inherently unequal.

Karedevil is a classic case of “superpowered man has a normal girlfriend who he must protect from evil.” Karen Page is always cast as the damsel in distress. In the three seasons of Daredevil, Matt is constantly having to save Karen from one villain or another. It’s starting to feel tired.

C/O Netflix

Yes, Karen has a lot going for her. She’s not exactly a wilting flower, having killed more people than Matt ever will (hopefully). She is smart and active and takes charge of things. Some of her decisions are stupid, but then again, most of Matt’s are, so that’s not saying much. But the thing is, Karen Page is a damsel in distress. She’s not a hero. She’s a love interest, not a protagonist.

Daredevil even addresses this, somewhat, in season 3. Karen finally reveals to Matt that she was the one who killed James Wesley while trying to talk him out of killing Fisk. He asks why she never told him, and she said that he always seemed to think of her as innocent. She liked being thought of as innocent; she likes being the “good girl” on the sidelines, not the hero on the front lines like Matt.

Karen is not a hero. She cannot be a full partner to Matt, she can’t even be a sidekick. At best, she’s an inspiration, someone to come home to. At worst, she’s a distraction and a weakness. We’ve seen the worst come true already – why keep pushing this?

Better Options

Personally, I’m not a fan of Karedevil because the show keeps pushing it on us when there are many better options for Matt. In the course of three seasons of Daredevil and one run of The Defenders, there are several better options that Matt could go with.

Daredevil first introduced us to actual angel Claire Temple, where she was briefly, possibly a love interest for Matt. Claire, the “night nurse” who patches up superheroes, finds Matt in her dumpster and stitches him back together. She serves as a grounding force for Matt and a necessary aide. However, Claire doesn’t want to get caught up in Matt’s darkness, and it ends there.

karedevil
C/O Netflix

I am high-key team Matt/Elektra. Elektra was introduced in season 2 of Daredevil as Matt’s unsavory ex-girlfriend who nearly ruined his life, and is back for a second attempt. However, there is much more to Elektra. She’s not good for Matt, per se. But she understands him like no one else will. They are both warriors and fighters, who may not see eye to eye but can see into each other’s souls.

When Karen finds out about Matt’s secret identity, she wants him to give up being Daredevil. The majority of their interactions in The Defenders are Karen trying to kill part of who Matt is. Daredevil is a part of him, and he can’t get rid of that. Karen doesn’t get it. Elektra does. She pushes him to accept who he is, all parts of himself. I’m still mad she’s dead – but holding out hope for another resurrection.

Even JessMatt is better than Karedevil. Jessica Jones is a fair match for Matt. Another superpowered vigilante, she understands his life better than Karen could ever hope to. They have equal darkness inside that would work together well.

What’s Next For Karedevil?

Who knows! At the moment, we don’t even know if there will be another season of Daredevil. While the show continues to be insanely good, that’s no guarantee. Iron Fist somehow had an amazing second season and still was canceled, along with Luke Cage. Things aren’t looking great for the Marvel Netflix ‘verse.

If we do get more Daredevil, though (please please please), it’s unclear where the show plans to take Karedevil. Their romantic relationship solidly ended in season 2, but that’s no guarantee things won’t pick back up. Season 3 leaves things up in the air. Matt is returning to his regular life as Matt Murdock again and has rekindled his friendships with Foggy and Karen.

C/O Netflix

So while they’re not romantically involved yet, there’s no telling whether or not the showrunners will keep pushing Karedevil on us. Now that they are interacting again and seem to be on positive terms, it’s entirely possible they give things another go. Season 3 surely pushed a lot of platonic Karedevil at us, with the two working through their issues and even somewhat bonding.

Without any definite information about a potential season 4, it’s hard to tell what’s next. If the show gets canceled like the others, obviously there’s nothing next. But even if the show comes back, they could go in a completely different direction. Give Matt a girlfriend from the comics. Create a new character. Make him single because he obviously sucks at relationships.

My ideal, though? Bring back Elektra. No one stays dead in comics, and they’ve already resurrected her once, so there’s no reason they can’t do it again. I would love to see more Matt/Elektra content, and I would love to see Matt learn better how to balance both sides of who he is.

Is Karedevil Canon?

It’s not canon anymore, at least. For a time, Karedevil was canon. In season 2 of Daredevil, they started to embark on a romantic relationship. They went on a date together, kissed, and Matt even refers to Karen as his girlfriend. Foggy jokes about this being a “thing” now.

However, canon Karedevil as an actual, fully-fledged relationship lasted a few episodes. Soon, they splintered apart as Matt’s double life spiraled out of control and Karen got caught up in Frank Castle’s orbit. Their split was negative and harsh, with Karen berating Matt for his obvious lying and distraction, even if she didn’t know what was going on in his life.

C/O Netflix

This wasn’t the end of their relationship for good, but so far the romantic component has stayed dead. Matt revealed the truth to Karen because he couldn’t keep lying to her, but they didn’t rekindle their relationship. Instead, they were “figuring themselves out” and keeping a polite, friendly distance.

When Matt “died” at the end of The Defenders, Karen certainly took it hard, but Matt’s “resurrection” left her angrier than ever. As it stands, I’m not sure how they’d find a way back to a romantic relationship. They talked out a lot of their problems in season 3, but they are still at loggerheads so much.

Karedevil becoming canon again would do both Matt and Karen a disservice. The relationship is no good for either of them and weakens them both, character-wise. Instead, let them move forward as platonic friends. Matt needs all the friends he can get, and I’d hate to see him lose that for the sake of another ill-fated romance.

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