Although the show came out months ago, I did not take an interest to Marvel’s Daredevil as fast as I should have. I am a huge fan of Marvel comics- both the mainstream and variant heroes- but Daredevil only recently compelled me into what Hell’s Kitchen was cooking.
The verdict: Compelling and rife with Marvel’s classic questioning of morals.
From the opening, the show highlights that “justice is blind”, and immediately gives that focus to our protagonist of the same affliction. Murdock’s blindness and upbringing are two of the most unique characteristics of our main man, with his Catholicism following close behind.
What fascinates me even more, however, is the world around Murdock. A distinct characteristic of the MCU (or MTU, to be more specific) is how fantastic a job Marvel has done of showcasing actual diversity in New York City. The portrayal of Hell’s Kitchen impressed me, as I saw more representation of race, social class, and accessibility in 2 episodes than in maybe 3 seasons of Sex and the City (or Girls, or Friends…). This leads to what I mainly pulled from Daredevil as a whole. As Jessica Jones reflected on how broken people can (and sometimes cannot) overcome trauma, Murdock’s New York is filled with lessons about privilege, where it lands you on the food chain, and what can be done about it.
While I’m sure that some staunch comic fans will disagree, I saw the message of privilege throughout my viewing, one that was highlighted rather than ignored. It’s no secret that any given Marvel series will speak out about injustices, and this show has not proven different. We start with Murdock’s blindness-along with the pitying and misunderstanding that comes with it- and it ranges all the way to the big bad himself, Wilson Fisk. This show, by and large screamed to me how disability is seen by the world, whether it be physical, mental, or a simple effect of their place on the totem pole.
This theme even played into Fisk’s endgame. After all, he used his biggest asset-financial pull-to cripple those such as Sra. Cardenas and Karen Page. He used his credibility as a rich white man to slander Daredevil and put himself on a pedestal (Donald Trump, anyone?) while slaughtering chunks of Hell’s Kitchen. His supervillainy was essentially disabling anyone who crossed him-as I somewhat jokingly say, through super-gentrification.
But even the villain had weaknesses. The interactions of Wilson Fisk were stunted, sometimes sloppy and awkward. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone were prescribing him with some type of social disorder right now. I did, somewhat-I know it can be problematic, but the acting choices here were purposeful. It was very masterfully played, especially as a foil to the visually disabled yet more charismatic Murdock.
From the lower class (Sra. Cardenas and Karen Page), to the mentally challenged Melvin Potter, Daredevil is not only bringing to light the inner workings of a corrupt justice system, but the struggles of the less privileged. By doing this, Marvel succeeds in not only its diversity, but adds a richness to the story that is flag shipped by our unlikely hero. In a way, this type of visibility displays the strength and genius often shrouded by disadvantage. Oh, and did I mention that this show is accessible to the blind? Let’s applaud that one, for sure.