Couch Potato

How the Daredevil Show Made Me Rethink Heroes

So, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of Daredevil. I also love the work Marvel is doing with their cinematic universe. They aren’t all great, but they’re a lot of fun, use the characters well, and it’s just staggering how well they’ve been keeping the interconnected universe running. I’m still excited to see each of their projects, which is more than I can say for the turd of a universe DC has brewing. So when I heard about Marvel’s plan to create their Netflix shows based on some of their more street-level heroes, I was psyched. And even more so when I found out the first one was going to be based on Daredevil.

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The show was amazing. I think the characters were perfect, their relationships were just right, and the action was great. It’s one of my favorite pieces of superhero media, and great representation of the Daredevil character. There was a lot to love about the show, Charlie Cox really nailed Matt Murdock, Vincent D’Onofrio was an amazing and nuanced Kingpin, and just about everything else in the show clicked perfectly for me. But really, there’s one scene that encapsulates the entire show for me, and really got me thinking about superheroes in general. It was the end of the second episode, “Cut Man.” Now, a lot was said about the ending of this episode, because of the amazing fight scene at the end. And it really is amazing. A single take scene of Matt beating the hell out of a bunch of Russian thugs, as he gets progressively more beaten and exhausted, but never gives up. Now, in the post where I talked about issue 25 of the Daredevil show, I mentioned that I loved Matt’s flashback to his dad talking about never staying down, and that’s really something that I love about Daredevil. He just never stays down, even when his life is shitting on him, and he’s in the worst spot he’s ever been in. I love that fight scene so much, mainly because of the realism it brings to the character. He lives in the same world as the members of the Avengers, who go around fighting armies of robots while barely breaking a sweat. But Matt isn’t like the Avengers, he gets the crap kicked out of him, and he’ll stand there bleeding, sweating, and panting, because he’s more or less just a regular guy.

But the fight wasn’t the scene that really blew me away. It was what happened after the fight. Here’s a link to the scene if you haven’t seen the episode, but you really should, and the whole series, it’s great. Now, a little bit of backstory. The guys that Daredevil are beating up in the hallway work for some sketchy Russian brothers who work for Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, and they’ve kidnapped a young boy, to do some unspecified things to. I feel like it worked similarly to the principal good horror movies stick with, the show didn’t explicitly say what they had planned for the kid, so our imagination filled in whatever horrible fate we thought of. But anyway, Matt fights his way through a group of guys, and ends up victorious, and then the amazing scene happens. Matt walks up to the door to the room the kid is being held in, and before he goes in, he slips his mask off, and slowly enters. He then says the following to the kid:

Hi, I know you’re scared. But I’m here to help you. Okay? You don’t have to be scared anymore. Lets get you home to your dad.

He then picks the kid up, and carries him through the hallway of broken Russians, back to safety. Now, when I first watched the episode, I just thought the fight scene was amazing, and didn’t think much about that last interaction. But over the months since I first saw the show, that scene has picked away at me, and I’ve come to see it as possibly the most important scene in the whole show. And that’s because that scene was where we first saw that Matt Mudrock wasn’t trying to be a vigilante, he was trying to be a hero. Now, I know that those terms get thrown around a lot for comic book heroes, and they’re used pretty interchangeably. But I think the major distinction is that a vigilante is focused on punishing criminals, whereas a hero is focused on saving the innocent. The Punisher is a vigilante. He doesn’t care about the innocents, his whole schtick is that he just wants to kill all the criminals he sees. But Matt is different. Yeah, he beat up a bunch of thugs, but to me, taking off the mask, showing the kid that he was just a normal guy, and reassuring him, shows that Matt’s goal wasn’t just to beat up bad guys, it was to save this kid. A hero shouldn’t care that a bad guy gets away, so long as he ensures that innocent lives were saved. Of course, it gets into a weird ethical gray area when you look at characters like the Joker, where people can make the reasonable argument that Batman’s responsible for all the people Joker’s killed, because he hasn’t stopped him, but for the purposes of this article, and this scene, I feel like it’s the saving of an innocent that really makes Matt a hero.

Daredevil Corridor

I also realized after I made the connection to heroes and vigilantes, that that’s exactly why I didn’t like the Man of Steel, movie. I know ragging on that movie is pretty common, but jeez, it deserves it. There’s a lot of hate in Man of Steel, the boring Krypton stuff, Kevin Costner committing suicide by tornado just to teach Superman a lesson, all the weird 9/11 imagery, but I think the thing that stuck with most people, myself included, was the whole climax, where Superman was chasing Zod. He spends the entire end of that movie chasing Zod, throwing him through buildings, and smashing him into pretty much anything in the city that might have people in it. Now, I’m not a big Superman fan, but if there’s one thing I know about the guy, it’s that he puts people above everything else. I feel like if that movie was really a Superman movie, Zod would be knocking down buildings, and Superman would be doing everything in his power to save every last person in the building, even if that meant letting Zod get away. But does that happen? No, instead Superman throws Zod through buildings, killing even more people. Superman was fixated on punishing the bad guy, not saving the innocents, which made him more of a vigilante. And some characters work great if they straddle that line, trying to figure out which side of the issue they come down on, but Superman shouldn’t be one of those characters.

But that’s enough about Superman, this is about Daredevil. And really, any hero. After I came to this realization, I started plugging all sorts of movies and comics into this test, and really found that it’s important to me that a character is a hero. I still enjoy people like the Punisher who go out to specifically punish bad guys, but it’s the heroes that really stick with me. There’s just something more satisfying about having a character risk their life to save an average joe, rather than risking their life to kill a bad guy. It seems more selfless to me. And really, it’s what makes Daredevil one of my favorite superheroes, and the Daredevil show one of my favorites of all time. Give it a watch.

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“Cut Man” was written by Drew Goddard and directed by Phil Abraham.

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