When the first season of Daredevil was released on Netflix, I remember somebody asking me to give them a good reason why they should be more excited about this particular show versus all of the other superhero options that were available to them. I will never forget how quickly the answer came to me despite having never given the question much thought – well, at least not consciously. I explained that Daredevil was worth watching because of all the superheroes in the universe, none had a more interesting alter ego than Daredevil.
Have No Fear
Television is loaded with superhero series, but it is also rich with television shows that deal with law and order. Matt Murdock was therefore just as interesting in a suit and tie than he was in spandex and devil horns. For other popular caped crusaders, a series dedicated solely to their everyday lives would probably go by names such as The Real Housewives of Gotham City or be entirely based on a kid who goes to high school everyday just to get picked on (sorry, Peter, love you). Even those superhero stories in which one does have a pretty interesting nine-to-five gig like Superman, rarely do creators take advantage of the opportunity to incorporate that career into their storylines. I knew before ever watching an episode of Daredevil that the series would be wildly entertaining because I would be able to devour entire episodes without needing to see him don his superhero attire. And this is coming from somebody who has no affinity towards courtroom dramas at all. While many television shows in the superhero genre need to worry about balling on a budget in terms of production, Daredevil wouldn’t need to compensate for helicarriers and oversized shark people because their hero doesn’t encounter those things anyway. Daredevil is far more likely to square off in a church against a guy with really good aim, so the emphasis with he and his stories would always be on the story first rather than trying to “wow” us (although it often seems to manage that, as well).
I’ve never really found it beneficial to debate who the greatest superhero of all-time is or who would win in a fight between two names picked out of a hat (the first answer is Spider-Man and the second is always the Hulk). What I enjoy more is seeing what it is that connects people to specific superheroes and why they might enjoy the escapades of one over another. Daredevil is great for several reasons. For starters, when his father is killed for trying to do the right thing, Matt learned quickly what life is like when the mob is able to run rampant in a city like Hell’s Kitchen. So there’s no questioning his motivation. There’s also something to say about the fact that Matt chooses to live in the very city that he champions; a true rarity amongst superheroes when you think about it. Yes, Bruce Wayne lives in Gotham, but he does so in the seclusion of Wayne Manor. Let’s not trick ourselves into thinking that he’s elbow-to-elbow with families spending each day worrying about how they’re going to put food on the table. As for Peter Parker, the youngster is far more likely to be seen swinging into action in Manhattan than he and his Aunt May’s neighborhood in Queens. Not to say characters like Bruce and Peter should be slighted because of this, but there is just something so much more grounded about heroes like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and I knew it wouldn’t be difficult for Netflix to take advantage of that. And finally, as Matt Murdock, the protagonist of the series does what many of us do on a daily basis in terms of questioning whether their methods are right or wrong. Batman is as black-and-white as they come in regards to their approach. Spider-Man may question if wearing the tights are worth it, but that’s more because of the toll it takes on Peter Parker. Not to say that makes this characters worse, but there is something familiar about Daredevil and his need to be told that everything is and will be okay.
It is not difficult to see what it is that makes Matt Murdock so damn cool. The guy takes on the job of lawyer not because of the big bucks that accompany it, but because he genuinely wants to help as many people in Hell’s Kitchen as possible. As we find in the real world, sometimes you can’t fight the big corporations with your fists. Sometimes it takes a more cerebral approach and Matt understands that. When all else fails, however, the Man Without Fear transforms himself into his alter ego persona and proceeds to scare the living hell out of people. What’s not to like?
The best part of all is that there are still so many directions this series can go. Not only has Daredevil yet to face off against some of his most formidable foes, but we still have yet to see the adaptation of some of his greatest storylines. For centuries, great thinkers have encouraged us to “know thyself”, and that philosophy also applies to adapting any superhero story into film or television. The Dark Knight knew it was a psychological thriller in which a man named Bruce Wayne saw how far he would go to apprehend a psychopath. Captain America: The Winter Soldier knew it was a spy movie in which its hero was forced to question the agenda of everybody around him. I had complete faith that Daredevil would work as the tale of a man who demonstrates a blind faith in a city that most others have given up on.
During a time in which it appears there isn’t anything that money can’t buy, Matt Murdock is a breath of fresh air. He’s bits and pieces of the aforementioned superheroes in this article, but most importantly, whether he’s Matt or Daredevil, he carries with him a big piece of us. I’m just thankful that the show’s creators have done such a great job of proving me right.