"Few of us who choose this life are immune to tragedy or pain. Matt Murdock has suffered more of his share than most, but he keeps soldiering on, doing what he believes is right. The fact he has been able to take what most people call a ‘disability’ and turn it into his greatest strength, the fact a blind man takes to the streets every night to defend strangers, at huge personal cost—
Daredevil is a Marvel ComicsSuperhero created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, with artistic input from Jack Kirby and Wally Wood. Daredevil was an attempt to recreate Lee's earlier success with the archetypal "everyman" hero Spider-Man, this time with an adult central character and a somewhat Darker and Edgier tone. The new character first appeared in "Daredevil" #1 (April, 1964)Daredevil has the ultimate in Disability Superpower — he's blind, but his other senses are superhumanly sharp. This is the result of his having been blinded by a radioactive substance whilst rescuing a blind man (oh, the irony) from the path of an oncoming truck. He is also a superb gymnast and martial artist, having been trained from an early age by a mysterious blind sensei called Stick as well as showing him how to control his senses to live normally. His Secret Identity is that of Matt Murdock, attorney-at-law.Despite his book having been home to some of the most respected writers (Stan Lee, Frank Miller, Ann Nocenti, Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, and Mark Waid) and artists (Klaus Janson, John Romita Jr, Alex Maleev, Mike Allred) in the business, Daredevil has never really succeeded in making the breakthrough into mainstream popular culture in the way that stablemates such as Spider-Man and the X-Men have, and he was generally considered to be at best a C-list character until Frank Miller took over the title in 1981 and introduced what are now considered to be some of the defining elements of the Daredevil mythos, including the characters of The Kingpin (originally a Spider-Man villain), Bullseye, and Elektra.Part of the reason for the character's relative lack of popularity may lie in the fact that, Bullseye, Elektra, The Hand, and The Kingpin (and possibly Mr. Fear and Mr. Hyde) aside, he has been lumbered with arguably the least impressive Rogues Gallery in comics, including such threats to Western civilization as Shotgun (a guy with a gun), Ammo (a guy with lots of guns), The Jester (a bargain-bin Joker knockoff), The Owl (a gang boss who can fly — v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y), the Matador (whose entire gimmick revolves around making you unable to see himnote keep in mind that Daredevil is blind and his other senses are extremely sharp, making invisibility useless against him), Leap Frog (who is a man in a frog suit who's able to jump very high), and Stilt-Man (who unfortunately is just what he sounds like). Luckily, in recent years the writers have been working to remedy this (see Echo, Purple Man, Bushwhacker, Gladiator, Bullet, Nuke and Typhoid Mary). Keep in mind that some of these villains were merely Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. Purple Man and Gladiator were created before Frank Miller took over the title but subsequently managed to become much more threatening in later years. Even Owl is now one of Daredevil's most dangerous rogues thanks to him being given an extra dose of Nightmare Fuel, while Mark Waid has actually made Jester a relevant antagonist with his current take on the character.A Daredevil film was released in 2003, starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, but despite being one of the most faithful comic-to-screen adaptations ever made — it lifted whole scenes and even entire chunks of dialogue from Miller's run — and some strong (if idiosyncratic) casting, it was a critical failure, in no small part due to being a vehicle for nu-metal and having severe Executive Meddling done to it; the director's cut is far better received. Some people prefer to believe that it never happened, though many liked Colin Farrell as Bullseye and Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin. Despite it making back more than double its budget at the box office, they did not do a direct sequel, but a spin-off starring Garner as Elektra. It didn't go over well. On a lighter note, Garner and Affleck (who met on the first film) later married in real life, have had three children, and are still together, and reportedly quite happy as of this writing. As the film property's future, the rights have reverted to Marvel. Marvel is currently planning a Daredevil series to be released exclusively by Netflix, as part of a multi-series deal including Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones. The series will be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and star Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Vincent D'Onofrio as the Kingpin.Daredevil is quite arguably one of the most underrated superheroes at Marvel, but hardcore Marvel fans do tend to give the character a lot of respect thankfully. The character was also one of two characters created by Stan Lee to have never been an Avenger, until he was added to the New Avengers line-up in 2011. After a long stretch of very dark stories, Mark Waid's lighter take has been well-received.
Original Conception Provides Examples Of:
Aesop Collateral Damage: Since the late '90s, the supporting cast has begun to notice that they tend to be the damage that teaches Matt Murdock a lesson.
Alliterative Name: Matthew Michael Murdock. Hell, Daredevil is an alliterative name — that's why he wears the interlinked "DD" on his front.
Alternate Company Equivalent: Daredevil's enemy Mr. Fear is much the same as DC's version of the Scarecrow, a longtime Batman villain. They both use a combination of creepy costumes, fear-inducing chemicals, and psychological manipulation to achieve their goals.
Though Mister Fear started using his chemical fear gas about six years before the Scarecrow did anything similar.
Awesome McCoolname: It's more low key than most, but Matt Murdock. Just say it and see how Badass it sounds.
Awesomeness by Analysis: Matt often uses his "radar sense" to figure out what he can't see and use it to his advantage. When he fought Bruiser, a villain who can change his center of gravity, he discovered that his body couldn't keep up with the changes and used a precise strike against a fracturing bone to take him down.
Badass Bookworm: A variant in that he's not a scientific genius like most versions of this trope, but rather an expert lawyer. Although, apparently he crammed a master's degree in applied mechanical engineering in his spare time. Also, he's uncommonly knowledgeable in chemistry. Of course, that probably comes with the territory when you're able to identify different types of metals by scent.
Badass Normal: Sort of. Daredevil does have powers, but they're much more limited than most other heroes. Essentially, they amount to "he's blind, but he can see differently", and his physical abilities are not superhuman. It's more his ability to find creative uses for his powers that accounts for his ability to come out on top against more powerful enemies.
Keep in mind that he's one of the few characters to have beaten bothWolverine and The Punisher in one-on-one fights. Once more for emphasis: He has beaten both Wolverine and the Punisher in one-on-one fights.
A little more acceptable when you remember that his radar sense, a kind of sonar that he uses to "see", is essentially omnidirectional vision — being able to see in all directions at once is one hell of an advantage in a fight, once you learn to deal with all that sensory input.
Bandage Wince: Apparently having hypersenses just makes iodine sting that much more.
Big Damn Heroes: Born Again. Between a bloodthirsty psychopath in a Daredevil costume and a murderous drug dealer coming for them pretty much at the same time, it looks like Karen and Foggy are screwed. Enter a reinvigorated Matt Murdock who manages to lay out both threats without breaking a sweat.
Blessed with Suck: Well, would you trade in your eyesight for improved touch (everything HURTS more!), taste, smell, hearing, and a nebulously-defined "radar sense"? While Stick taught Murdock to control his senses enough to function normally, The Movie has his senses seem to cause chronic pain, so he chomps painkillers like candy and he can only get to sleep in a sensory deprivation tank. Or next to a smoking hot babe. Guess natural dopamine still trumps artificial.
DD also tends to hit people hard enough to send them flying several meters, parallel to the ground. Although, how he does so without killing them is anybody's guess.
Clear My Name: As a defense lawyer, Matt Murdock often does this in his day job. He's also one of the few people who's done it to members of his own Rogues Gallery. When he was appointed as Mister Hyde's attorney, Matt made an effort to prove that Hyde was innocent of the crime he was accused of. And Hyde really was innocent this time, even though he's otherwise a sadistic monster who gets his jollies from beating up people who can't fight back.
Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: Used as a central metaphor in the classic Elektra story, where the monastery of the heroic ninjas is atop a forbidding cliff that only the spiritually pure can climb.
Costume Copycat: As noted below, Foggy tried to use a Daredevil costume to keep up the lie that he was really Daredevil.
Then there was the time that Matt was exposed as Daredevil and sent to prison, and another person mysteriously took up the Daredevil mantle while he was behind bars. Though it later turned out to be Danny Rand AKA Iron Fist, who was just filling in as a favor to his friend Matt.
There's also the time during the "Born Again" arc where a murderous maniac was given a DD suit and told to go crazy on Matt's friends. This in turn leads to a CMOA, as Matt beats the living shit out of the psycho, and takes AND USES the psycho's costume and billy club for the rest of the arc (as all of Matt's belongings had been destroyed earlier).
Plus the time that Matt Murdock put Daredevil on the stand during a trial - it was actually Spider-Man doing Matt a favour.
Cradle of Loneliness: After Elektra's death, one cover showed a grieving Daredevil hugging the headstone of her grave.
Curb-Stomp Battle: When the Yakuza try to muscle into Hell's Kitchen, Daredevil makes a direct attack on their headquarters — and brings along Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Spider-Man. Sixty hardened killers with swords and automatic weapons go down like tenpins.
Darker and Edgier: Daredevil was a grittier character even before Frank Miller took over in the 80s. Since then, he's been one of Marvel's grimmest (out-grimmed only by The Punisher), to the point that Mark Waid's purpose statement for the new series is that he wants to read a Daredevil story that didn't drive him to drink.
David Versus Goliath: Daredevil runs up against much larger, much more powerful enemies with shocking regularity. Rarely does he face true giants, but the spirit remains the same.
Less literally, one of Daredevil's CMOA's was when he beat to death (with a stick) Ultron, a killer robot who regularly causes much more powerful heroes to fudge their undies.
An early CMOA had Daredevil go up against Namor back when Namor was enough to take on either the whole of The Avengers or the whole of the Fantastic Four. Daredevil doesn't win the fight per se, but Namor cancels his attack in respect to Daredevil's bravery and tenacity.
Determinator: In some respects, this is Daredevil's defining character trope. He's had to adjust to being blinded and having his senses dramatically enhanced, having his secret identity exposed and his girlfriends murdered, losing his law license and practice, being possessed by demons, and fighting villains and heroes who by all rights should be completely out of his league. But no matter what, Matt Murdock just Keeps. On. Going.
Matt goes so far with this trope, it actually enabled him to save New York City when he ended up fighting Namor the Sub-Mariner. Although Daredevil lost the actual fight, Namor was so impressed with Daredevil's refusal to give up that he decided to spare the city.
Did the same with the Incredible Hulk, lasting long enough for the green guy to calm down and end his rampage. DD went straight to the hospital, but it worked.
Disability Superpower: He's got the most advanced case known, though. His touch is so sensitive, he can read normal print by feeling the ink. With gloves on. His hearing is so sharp, he's bothered by the Les Miserables production across town. Often considered the Ur Example of this trope, though DC's Doctor Mid-Nite precedes him by over 20 years. Even so, he's certainly the most iconic example - right down to the dis in his ability; loud noises seriously disorient him, and he has trouble handling currency because it's stamped too flat for him to feel the impressions — the movie shows that he folds different denominations in different ways to distinguish them (Truth in Television, this is a standard technique of the blind for keeping their cash organized).
Downer Ending: The end of one of Ed Brubaker's arcs has DD's wife being committed to a mental hospital, Mr. Fear in control of Ryker's (with nobody knowing) and the Hood having both his organisation and Mr. Fear's to use to control Hell's Kitchen.
Epic Fail: In-universe. During issue 14 of Volume 3, Daredevil is losing his senses thanks to nanoprobes from Doctor Doom's henchmen. He escapes and, without his radar sense or any form of sight or hearing, jumps over a fence and believes he's free... only to land back on the same side. To quote a Scans_Daily commenter, "Ouch. Right in the dignity."
Expy: When Daredevil was first created and Stan Lee was writing him, Daredevil was little more than an Expy of Spider-Man. Both traveled by swinging around the city, both had an acrobatic fighting style, and both had some kind of enhanced senses that allowed them to spot danger. Daredevil's personality wasn't particularly distinctive either. Thankfully, future writers fleshed out the character. A lot.
Fake Twin Gambit: Matt Murdock (Daredevil's secret identity) pretended to be his own non-existent twin brother Mike Murdock to trick his friends into believing that "Mike" was Daredevil, after they began suspecting his identity.
Genre Savvy: The prosecutors in New York have been able to massively derail Matt's career by bringing his Daredevil activities into the court record. They can't prove he's Daredevil, and Matt insists that he isn't, but there's enough reasonable doubt to force a mistrial.
Honor Before Reason: Pretty much Matt's defining character trait. He believes everyone deserves equal treatment under the law and that killing is always wrong, even if the victim is a psychopathic monster.
Identity Impersonator: After a mix-up where Spider-Man thought Foggy was Daredevil, Foggy tried to convince Karen this was true to impress her. A series of further misunderstandings caused more and more people to fall for it at first, even the Gladiator, the guy Foggy bought his Daredevil costume from. Much more recently, Danny Rand, the Immortal Iron Fist, acted as Daredevil while Matt Murdock was in prison.
Spider-Man has also done a turn in the horned tights as a favor when Matt wanted to "prove" to the world that he (Murdock) wasn't Daredevil.
He's also quite nifty with pulling off the Robin Hood archery stunt of splitting several arrows in a bulls-eye.
Improbable Weapon User: His weapon of choice is a billy-club with a built-in grappling hook, that he disguises as a white-stick when out of costume.
Also, his archenemy Bullseye is defined by this trope. His entire gimmick is that he can kill anybody with anything, which often Crosses the Line Twice. In The Movie this is shown when he kills people with paperclips and peanuts, and later uses pieces of a shattered window as ersatz throwing knives/shuriken.
Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Turk, who is pretty much the pettiest criminal in Hell's Kitchen and has the incredible ability to always snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Except for the time in Born Again when a barely-sane Matt stumbled in front of Turk on the street and got almost fatally stabbed. Turk barely gave the guy a second glance.
It's Not You, It's My Enemies: No, seriously. When Matt's enemies find out who he is, they make his life Hell. They don't destroy him, they make him destroy himself. This even extends to him turning down an invitation to join the New Avengers on two separate occasions, as he didn't want to put the rest of the team at risk by associating with him — he accepted the second invitation, however, when Luke Cage & Jessica Jones pointed out that he'd be an Avenger, so they'd have his back.
Ivy League: Matt Murdock has a law degree from Columbia.
Le Parkour: Matt has been a poster-boy for this trope since his debut in the 60s.
Lighter and Softer: Mark Waid accepted the offer to write Daredevil on the condition that he could move the series away from the overwhelming bleakness that had dominated the character for the better part of thirty years. So far, it's been well received.
Lightning Bruiser: The Bruiser, aptly enough. Daredevil describes him as "fast as a freight train and half as nimble".
Also DD himself, being fast enough to respond to bullets in mid-flight as well as possessing formidable strength and durability for a street-level character.
Mole in Charge: For a while, Daredevil ostensibly ran the evil ninja assassin cabal called the Hand.
Multilayer Façade: For a while, Matt Murdock pretended to also be his non-blind twin brother Mike, who everyone suspected was secretly Daredevil.
Mythology Gag: Waid's run introduces a Shadow Archetype of sorts to Daredevil: Ikari, who has all of Daredevil's powers along with sight, which was accomplished by recreating Darevil's origin. Appropriately enough, his costume resembles Daredevil's original yellow and red.
Nebulous Evil Organization: Daredevil fights these now and then, but he has an intimate history with one in particular: Black Spectre.
The second arc of the Mark Waid series involves Black Spectre and rival organizations AIM, Hydra, the Secret Empire, and Agence Byzantine all gunning for DD's head.
When the Yakuza try to muscle into Hell's Kitchen, their thugs nearly kill Daredevil. The next night, he bursts into their makeshift headquarters, and we see that they have over sixty men with swords and automatic weapons. The yakuza's Evil Laugh trails off when the dust clears and they see that Daredevil brought Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Spider-Man. Cue Curb-Stomp Battle.
Open Secret: As of Mark Waid's run, virtually everyone suspects Matt is Daredevil — forcing him to play the bumbling blind man in an attempt to throw people off his scent. It hasn't been working too well, and Matt's career is in danger.
Parental Abandonment: Matt's father dies in his origin story, and he never knew his mother; she's finally introduced some twenty years later, in the Born Again storyline.
Really Gets Around: Fans generally agree that the title of supreme pimp of the Marvel Universe is a tossup between him and Tony Stark. A weighted tossup, as Stark tends to cheat by surrounding himself with expensive bombshell bait. Murdock just lays back and waits, knowing that any woman who thinks about it will realize that besides his sculpted physique, a blind man can give a woman the sensation of Braille being read.
Wolverine: (Murdock), you're the biggest himbo that ever wore a pair of tights.
Required Secondary Powers: Bruiser's distinctive lack of these is what enabled Daredevil to defeat him. Bruiser can shift his gravity to augment his physical might or become impossible to knock down or throw, but he isn't invulnerable by any means and his powers put a lot of stress on his joints — one solid blow to his knee had him screaming in pain.
Rogues Gallery: Bullseye, Elektra, Gladiator, Leap-Frog, Mister Hyde, Nuke, Ikari, Bullet, Man-Bull, Electro, the Eel, Typhoid Mary, Stilt-Man, Death-Stalker, Mister Fear, the Kingpin, the Owl, Bruiser, etc. You could arguably count the Punisher here, too.
Rogues-Gallery Transplant: While Electro earned his spurs fighting Spider-Man, he was also the first supervillain Daredevil defeated, and returned to tangle with Matt on a semi-regular basis. Daredevil would also have one-off fights with other villains, such as Klaw (an enemy of the Black Panther), the Absorbing Man (an enemy of The Mighty Thor), the Blob and Pyro (enemies of the X-Men), and Nitro (an enemy of Captain Mar-Vell).
Similarly, the Kingpin was originally a Spider-Man villain who was eventually permanently transplanted to Daredevil.
Mysterio, again a Spider-Man villain, had Daredevil as his "adopted" nemesis during an arc because The Clone Saga deal kept Mysterio from knowing if Spider-Man was the real thing or just a clone.
And the Eel (originally a Human Torch foe) and Mr. Hyde (originally an enemy of Thor) both became more associated with Daredevil as time went on.
Daredevil invokes this trope despite being blind himself. His superb hearing and "radar" senses allows him to "see" in the dark much to the disadvantage of the criminals who can actually see. While they're paranoid and distracted, he's calm and controlled and kicks their asses.
Turned on its head though any time his superior senses are overloaded, such as when in the movie Bullseye causes a raucous of noise and disorients Daredevil, thus making him "blind" to any attack Bullseye can impose on him.
Uniqueness Decay: Matt Murdock's radar sense was originally a super power, the freak result of the accident that blinded him. Later, Frank Miller introduced a mentor character and revealed that anyone could learn to "see" without their eyes the way that Matt does.
Deadpool was not all that impressed with Daredevil on hearing about his first meeting with (the girl who would become) Typhoid Mary.
Matt got this a lot during the Miller era, particularly for things like making an alliance with the Kingpin and ruining his girlfriend's career.
Later versions by Frank Miller and modern writers provide examples of:
Aborted Arc: Near the end of Miller's run, Stick revealed to Daredevil that his super senses were not unique. In the past, every one had the same senses he does, they just lost them over time. The radiation only unlocked his senses, it didn't create them. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of a wounded Black Widow, and Stick dies soon afterwards. Sadly, no other writer picked up this thread.
And I Must Scream: The ultimate fate of Bullseye in Issue #27, Volume 3. After having been revived with locked-in syndrome due to injuries he received from Daredevil, he gets radioactive chemicals in his eyes, also blinding him.
Cartwright Curse: Karen Page included, Daredevil's female companions have a nasty tendency to die, go crazy, or both. Sometimes more than once. The Black Widow was lucky to emerge relatively unscathed. Of course, she's a big enough character in the Marvel Universe to have some Plot Armor.
The Chessmaster: The Kingpin yet again. Also, Bullseye due to his locked-in syndrome.
Continuity Snarl: The Man Without Fear, Miller's origin story for Matt (originally intended as a screenplay), doesn't mesh very well with his existing origin; writers using elements from both versions makes it somewhat unclear what the actual canon is.
Lighter and Softer: Mark Waid's current run on the title which has seen ol' hornhead return to being more of a superheroic adventurer taking on large threats as opposed to being the grim and gritty vigilante that every writer since Frank Miller has written him as. Surprisingly, the results have been rather successful.
The Kingpin gave this one to Daredevil on more than one occasion.
The Punisher has also had this talk with Matt. On one occasion, when Murdock was at a particularly low point, Frank specifically arranged a meeting between the two of them so that he could remind Matt that Not So Different is still a bit different.
One Dialogue, Two Conversations: In issue 17 of Mark Waid's run, a flashback to the early days of their law office shows Matt and Foggy having a spat about the division of workload. Foggy accidentally makes an insensitive remark about sight and apologizes, but artwork implies that Matt's retort to this was actually obliquely referring to his double life as Daredevil.
Foggy: I wish you could see the nonsense I deal with! Matt(with Daredevil's shadow): So do I. Foggy: That's not...not what I...
Orgy of Evidence: In Daredevil: Born Again, this phenomena was what finally convinced Matt Murdock that the recent misfortunes he had suffered was being caused by the Kingpin rather than simply being a string of bad luck.
Psycho for Hire: Bullseye and Nuke, as well as the Daredevil impersonator from Born Again.
The Rival: Frank Miller brought The Punisher in for a story arc, highlighting the vast differences in the methods, personalities, and ideologies of the two vigilantes. The relationship stuck and they often show up in each other's series, usually as an antagonist but occasionally as an ally. In an aversion of the usual arc, at first Punisher took a liking to Daredevil and considered it an honor to meet him, but over time grew less and less tolerant of him, going from tolerable ass to intolerable ass.
Rock Bottom: Hit this during Shadowland. Since then Matt has had nowhere to go but up.
Save the Villain: Daredevil saves Bullseye from drowning in radioactive chemicals in the latter's latest appearance. However, he is left a prisoner in his own body due to the injuries that accumulated over time.
Shadow Archetype: Bullseye. And the Kingpin, whose constant evasion of criminal convictions cause Murdock to seriously doubt the law's ability to deal with the most calculating criminals.
It's happening again with Matt's wife Milla Donovan, who had to suffer through Daredevil's secret identity being leaked to the press, Matt being sent to jail, and then driven crazy by Mr. Fear to the point of being in a near catatonic state, so far, beyond any chance of recovery.
Issue 11 of Waid's run has Daredevil rather conspicuously call out Punisher's partner Cole for believing in this trope — there are millions of cops and firefighters who simply want to do what's right, and claiming that they aren't as driven as someone with a dead loved one is a "vomitous insult".
One issue briefly but specifically mentions this; Daredevil lands a blow on Max the Ax that'll cost him a lot of money in dental work.
He does this to Bullseye in another issue. Bullseye just uses them as weapons.
Token Motivational Nemesis: The Fixer, who traumatized Matt into the man he is today, unceremoniously dies of a heart-attack at the end of the first volume of the comics, having served his narrative purpose.
Vice City: Hell's Kitchen is usually portrayed in this way.
Wham Episode: Volume 4, issue 36 ends with the New York Bar Association reluctantly disbarring Matt for previous perjury (i.e. denying to be Daredevil on record) and the questionable ethics and legality of his vigilantism. As Kristen points out, it's nearly impossible to get onto another state's bar unless you've practiced law there before...and Matt did previously work in San Francisco, California, prompting a move.
Wretched Hive: Hell's Kitchen is also often portrayed in this way.