Who Is Daredevil? Here’s a Newbie Guide To Marvel’s Latest Hit
Tomorrow (April 10) marks the premiere of Marvel’s “Daredevil” on Netflix, and while the blind crimefighter is an incredibly popular character in comics history, most only know him as the guy in that 2003 movie that didn’t do so well (though it had its moments!)
So what do you need to know to start watching tomorrow when the whole series comes out? We did a little superhero math and worked out the basics for you:
First, take Batman.
Up until now it seems like Tony Stark’s been the frontrunner for Marvel’s best answer to the popular DC comics hero Batman – after all, he, too, is a billionaire genius who loves gadgets and doesn’t have any superpowers. But really, Daredevil bears a much closer resemblance to the Caped Crusader.
First off, both characters take up the cause of justice because of a dead parent (or parents, in Batman’s case.). Second, they share a strict moral compass and refuse to kill their enemies — even though they probably maybe should sometimes. Thirdly, they make up for their lack of superhuman strength by being at the peak of physical perfection and knowing a lot of martial arts.
And finally, they were both trained by a mysterious mentor with ties to a shadowy mystical organization. For Batman, it’s Ra’s Al Ghul of the League of Assassins, just like we all saw in “Batman Begins.” For Daredevil, it’s a old blind guy named Stick, who aligns himself with order of ninja warriors called The Chaste. You probably won’t need to know that part of Stick’s background for this version of “Daredevil” just yet, but you’ll definitely meet him before the Netflix series is done.
Speaking of being blind…
Get rid of his eyesight, of course.
Matt Murdock’s desire to take up the red mantle may stem from unresolved issues over his father’s death, but the superpowers he uses to make that dream a reality have been with him since he was a kid, when he saved a stranger from getting hit by a truck and was struck in the face with radioactive waste.
The radioactivity permanently blinded him, but in place of his eyesight all of his other senses were developed to an unnatural degree — he can hear hear and even smell things from miles away. In the comics he also has a “radar sense” that basically lets him “see,” typically via some kind of echolocation (it varies from writer to writer). Really, you could argue that Daredevil is MORE like a bat than Batman when you think about it.
Then, mash him up with Jack Donaghey.
Unlike Bruce Wayne, Matt Murdock grew up in a single parent, working class, Irish Catholic family that needed every penny to scrape by. That’s how Murdock’s dad, the wrestler Battlin’ Jack Murdock, ended up getting killed in the first place – he was murdered after refusing to intentionally lose a fight for money after he’d already done so several times to make ends meet.
Nowadays in the comics, though, Matt’s doing very well for himself: after a shaky start he now runs an incredibly successful law firm with many high-end clients, and is quite popular with attractive women who are way out of his league — even though his relationships always end poorly. But despite all this, he still can’t shake the inadequacies he felt during his poor Irish upbringing, which he only escaped in the first place by working more than is humanly possible. Also, he has a hard time dealing with confession booths. Gee, who does THAT all sound like?
Wrap it all up and give him a really weird sense of humor.
As someone who deals primarily with the dark underbelly and corruption of New York City, Murdock has a reputation for being more serious and angst-ridden than the rest of the heroes in Marvel’s line-up, which is part of why the grittier tone of his new Netflix series works so well. But that doesn’t mean he’s incapable of having fun — he just does it in very strange ways, in between all of the moping. Like making up an imaginary twin brother to explain why Daredevil looks so much like him, or wearing t-shirts that deny his superhero status even though everyone already knows about it.
Basically, imagine Jason Sudeikis’ devil character from “Saturday Night Live” — he’s all about the red outfit and horns and striking fear into the hearts of his villainous enemies, but he’s also a pretty laid back dude with kind of a smart aleck sensibility. It’s not as pronounced as Spider-Man or Iron Man’s snark, but it’s still there, especially in modern “Daredevil” comics.
So put that all together…
And you get Daredevil!