Friday, October 21, 2011

Random Thoughts on The Superhero Daredevil


    Daredevil (Matt Murdoch) is a blind lawyer. He can see using his heightened senses. To me, Daredevil is a proper disability advocate. (If not a living metaphor of blind justice.) However, his background is a little sparse, so much so that Ben Affleck swore off superhero movies. And I don’t know whether to be thankful or sad. Background aside, Daredevil knows kung-fu and he has a nifty cane, which in edition to helping him see, while not giving away his sonic sight ability, can be a weapon, a pole vault, or a grappling hook a la Batman. His archenemy is The Kingpin, who evidently is a criminal mastermind, and former fat nerd who takes his aggression out on his goons and society.
    I’m saying Daredevil’s background is scarce because my knowledge of him is mostly secondhand. From the awful Ben Affleck movie to a handful of Spider-Man team-ups (2 comics…), including the inaccurately titled “Daredevil vs. Spider-Man” 2002 animated movie, wherein Spider-Man and Daredevil team up and only fight for about 60 seconds, during the whole thing. Daredevil’s backstory is as follows: His dad was a boxer who threw a fight and became a bagman for Kingpin. He was so overtaken by sight of his dad as a criminal that he ran off and got hit by a truck carrying chemicals. He was blinded, but gained sonic sight. He can hear hearts beat, it’s so accurate. I wish there were more scenes in Daredevil (comics, movies, et al.) that showcased his sonic sight not just during battle. Though his kung fu is impressive, and he can take “leaps of faith” and always land on his feet. He’s essentially a kung fu movie translated into comic books, but I can’t think of which one. (Anyone?) I‘m a big fan of kung fu movies.
     And the kung fu allegories don’t end there. He also has a ninja girl partner named Elektra Nachios. When I first heard her name, I laughed for about 10 minutes. What happened? Did Stan Lee have Taco Bell one day and the deadline got to him? Nachios. Anyway, he’s also hunted by Bullseye, a bald Irish assassin, and also some guy named Smythe, who I believe is also disabled, using a wheelchair. He works for Kingpin in the hopes of seeing his father again, who he kidnapped. (God, he’s basically Daredevil already!) I think he’s a weapons expert or something engineer-like. And he wasn’t in the Ben Affleck movie. I don't remember.
    I think by this time Stan Lee was out of ideas, or else profiting from the kung fu movie craze of the Bruce Lee era. Unfortunately, disabilities are a rather convenient plot device when searching for a  dramatic Aristotlean “fatal flaw”. Which is the mark of Marvel Comics, and quite possibly why I read them. Because they are flawed heroes. I’d just rather not see the disability exploited as a flaw. I do like Daredevil though.  He kicks butt, and he’s a lawyer representing blind justice, kung-fu style with X-ray vision. He does good credit to the old myth that disabilities heighten the other senses; with a little help from super chemicals! I give his character 4 stars. But, the story, as far as I’m concerned, is all held together by the threads of kung fu, and occasionally, Spider-Man! Gotta get me more Daredevil comics, though before I can “star” the stories. Anyone have a recommendation for a good Daredevil story? (I've read a  neat story about him vs. a guy named Shotgun...who's pretty much a combination Rambo and Mr. T. So, pretty much every '80s era super-soldier.)

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