Before I begin, I would like to state that I don’t know what is too much information for you. I will attempt to not reveal any spoilers regarding plot (at least not without saying “SPOILER”), but I feel like I should draw attention to the possibility that my analysis of characters and themes may give away more than you would like to know about the first season of Daredevil on Netflix. If you don’t know enough about the story or characters from the comic books or even that horrible Ben Affleck movie, you may want to stop reading. However, if that isn’t a concern of yours, maybe this post will be just the thing to get you interested in the show. So if you should avoid Netflix binging as much as I should, reading on may lead you into temptation.
I have always been obsessed with superheroes. I believe that superheroes make us imagine that you could be more than yourself. Many superheroes have super powers, and they make us wonder what powers we may be able to discover within us. Many superheroes don’t have powers but have just mastered themselves in interesting ways like Sherlock Holmes, Batman, or Ironman. Daredevil is perhaps the greatest example of a hero who over-came adversity in comic book history, and I personally had fun with Netflix adaptation.
Let me, as a closet critic, give my review of the Netflix production before going any further: I felt that Netflix’ Daredevil was probably the best super hero television show I’ve ever seen. The plots sometimes dragged a bit, but they were pretty intricate. It had comedy, brutal action, drama, politics, and romance, but just enough to leave you wanting more. The action sequences were superb. You could really see that Netflix has proven that they can contend with the likes of HBO in the quality of casting, editing, and cinematography. To illustrate this point, check out this fight scene filmed in one continuous shot…
In Daredevil, Matt Murdock is a lawyer who lives in New York in the neighborhood Hell’s Kitchen. He was blinded when he was 9, while he was getting an elderly person out of the way of a truck carrying toxic chemicals. The chemicals that blinded his eyes somehow seem to have enhanced the rest of his senses much further than an average human capacity giving him a Zen-like awareness of everything around him within a pretty large radius. After he learns to hone his remaining senses (and of course learning what seems to be a variety of Muay Thai, Kung Fu, and Kali), it almost easy for him to fight crime.
One of the most interesting elements in the story are the paradigms that present themselves between Daredevil, or Murdock, and The Kingpin, or Wilson Fisk. Fisk and Murdock were both strongly impacted by their relationships with their fathers. We learn that Murdock’s father was used to taking a beating and that Fisk’s father was used to dishing one out. Those dynamics impact both the protagonist (Murdock) and the antagonist (Fisk). They were both twisted in their own right, and they both wanted what was best for Hell’s Kitchen. However, Murdock takes a beating for his city, while Fisk dishes one out for his.
We also see ways Fisk and Murdock parallel each other in relationships. They both struggle with decisions regarding who to trust or whether or not anyone is safe loving them. They take relationships from an “I can only trust myself” approach and a “My burden is goo heavy for me to have personal attachments” approach. Since it’s a comic book, I don’t think it would be too much of a SPOILER to say that friendship usually wins out in the end, but I believe loyalty is about as much of a theme as duty is, whether it apply to their compatriots or Hell’s Kitchen itself.
Naturally, my favorite aspect of the story was its emphasis in the mind-body connection. In one of the episodes, he mentioned that he perceived a “world on fire” in his imagination. He had to be in close contact with all of his faculties and his senses to be able to know his surroundings and what was threatening him. He would even use that ability to detect details of people in the next room or even which rib was broken in someone else’s body. A big portion of your brain is dedicated to your visual sense. When Murdock loses his sight, he utilizes that part of his brain in many creative ways. It makes me think of the wonderful and creative ways that we could all learn to adapt to our shortcomings.
Of course, the storytellers demonstrated these tendencies that many blind people are known to have to an unrealistic extreme. However, there was one dramatic detail that was rooted in truth. Murdock meditated so that his wounds would heal quicker. Studies have shown that people who meditate in preparation for and following a surgical operation will typically heal faster. Maybe meditation won’t make you heal like Wolverine, but it has been shown to strengthen your immune system and speed up recovery for injuries. I imagine it would have also come in handy for suppressing pain.
As a lawyer by day and a vigilante by night, it’s pretty clear that Murdock’s main goal is justice. It may be something other than superheroes that motivates you to be great. But whatever greatness you find in yourself, develop it to a level that may seem super. After doing so, you may just dare to make your world a better place.