Matt Murdock: “I’m not seeking penance for what I’ve done, Father. I’m asking forgiveness…for what I’m about to do.” – Daredevil, “Into the Ring” (season 1, episode 1)
A group of thugs creeps towards an apartment. They’ve been hired to take care of a nosy lawyer. The goons are attacked as they slip into the darkened apartment! The leader fumbles for his flashlight as his men are pummeled.
He shines the light on the assailant and sees the Devil himself. Daredevil knocks out the last thug and calls the police.
Daredevil is one of Marvel’s coolest heroes. He doesn’t have high tech weapons and can’t shoot lasers from his face, but he’s taken down entire criminal empires by himself.
So who is he? How did he become a hero? How can he be a great hero despite being blind? Let’s find out. We’re ready to make the case.
Guardian Devil: Daredevil’s Backstory
Wilson Fisk: The city and its future… seeing Hell’s Kitchen to its fullest potential is very important to me.
Matt Murdock: I feel the same way. – Daredevil, “Speak of the Devil” (season 1, episode 9)
Daredevil first appeared in 1964. He was created by Stan Lee, Bill Everett, and Jack Kirby.
Matt Murdock was the son of a boxer named Jack Murdock. One day he saw a blind man about to get run over by a truck and pushed him out of the way. A canister of radioactive ooze fell out of the truck and hit Matt, blinding him. Strangely enough, the same canister then knocked a quartet of turtles into a sewer and mutated them. Yes, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Daredevil share the same origin.
Matt learned to deal with being blind and realized his other senses had become more powerful. Tragedy struck again when Jack Murdock was murdered for refusing to throw a boxing match. Why didn’t he throw the match? Because Matt was listening to the fight on a radio. Poor kid.
A revenge-seeking Matt was discovered by a blind ninja called Stick, (Scott Glenn in Netflix’s Daredevil). Stick learned of Matt’s heightened senses and decided to train him as a potential recruit for his clan, The Chaste. Matt eventually left after realizing Stick wanted a weapon instead of a student.
Matt became a lawyer and decided to use his training to protect innocents. He created a suit and became Daredevil.
Born Again: Daredevil’s History
Wilson Fisk: ”I showed him…that a man without hope…is A Man Without Fear.” – Daredevil: Born Again
Daredevil became the protector of Hell’s Kitchen, beating up criminals while in costume and defending people in court. He fought countless supervillains, psychopaths, and roaming ninja clans. There was only one criminal he could never put away, Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin.
In the graphic novel Daredevil: Born Again, Kingpin learned Daredevil’s secret identity and ruined his life. A disbarred, homeless, and battered Matt Murdock went on the run to survive Kingpin’s wrath. When Kingpin sent the psychotic villain Nuke to attack Hell’s Kitchen, Matt returned as Daredevil and defeated Nuke. With the Avengers’ help, he finally dismantled Kingpin’s criminal empire and rebuilt his life.
Blind Justice: Daredevil’s Powers and Personality
Daredevil: “I’m not trying to be a hero. I’m just a guy that got fed up with men like you and I decided to do something about it.”
Wilson Fisk: “That’s what makes you dangerous. It’s not the mask. It’s not the skills. It’s your ideology. The lone man who thinks he can make a difference. I’m glad we could talk. I, I respect your conviction even if it runs counter with my own.” – Daredevil, “Condemned” (season 1, episode 6)
Daredevil is handi-capable. The ooze that blinded him cranked his other senses to eleven. He can hear people’s heartbeats, making him a human lie detector. Useful for a lawyer, but not even remotely ethical.
Daredevil has a “radar sense” similar to echolocation. Combined with his other senses, he can ‘see’ everything around him in a wide radius, but can’t do jack squat if he needs to read anything on a screen.
These powers actually suck when you consider them. Imagine superhuman senses in the middle of a bustling city. Smelling every landfill and bathroom in a metropolitan area, hearing even more noise than others, the list goes on. And getting punched with an enhanced sense of touch would hurt like hell. Good thing no one ever tries to hit Daredevil, amirite?
He is a devout Catholic with a strong sense of justice. He can be vindictive when his friends and family are hurt. When his lover Elektra was killed, Daredevil beats the man until he is paralyzed. He then breaks into the killer’s hospital room and threatens him with a gun that only Matt knows isn’t loaded. Pray all you like; it won’t save you from this devil.
The Actors Who Played Daredevil
Daredevil made his screen debut in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, voiced by Emmy-winning voice actor Frank Welker. Teenybopper Rex Smith played him for the first time in a live action setting in The Trial of The Incredible Hulk, a backdoor pilot for a Daredevil show that was never made.
He then appeared in the Fantastic Four, voiced by Bill Smitrovich. Finally he appeared in several episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series with Golden Globe winner Edward Albert voicing. The episodes featuring Daredevil were sold as a direct-to-DVD movie called Daredevil vs. Spider-Man.
Two time Oscar winner Ben Affleck was chosen to play Daredevil in the eponymous 2003 movie. The movie bombed after executives screwed with the script to set up a spinoff about Elektra. And while Daredevil bombed, Elektra tanked.
Daredevil finally got a good screen treatment in Netflix’s series. Charlie Cox portrays a note perfect Daredevil without knowing before the audition that Matt Murdock is blind. Daredevil will appear next in Netflix’s The Defenders alongside fellow heroes Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist.
Didya Get All That?
A devil fighting on the side of the angels.
Jared Bounacos has written for Movie Rewind since 2017.