Why some people DON’T like Daredevil

by Jun 27, 2008Commentary4 comments

Before posting my review of Daredevil #108, which is one of those great issues that gives us fans every reason to stick with this book, I thought I’d take a look at why some people don’t read Daredevil or never really liked the character. I used to work in research, so I naturally decided to take the scientific approach by doing an actual survey. A little nuts, perhaps, but I was genuinly curious.

I posted a question on the message boards on both Newsarama and Comic Book Resources about one month ago, and lots of responses came in, most of which were well-written and on-topic. Of course, some of the fans chimed in as well, as did yours truly. Links to both of these threads are at the bottom of this post, in case you want to read what everyone had to say. Here, I’ll present the results in a way that is easier to interpret by looking at the specific reasons people gave and summarizing them in a chart, as seen below.

The answers fell into three broad, and partially overlapping, categories. The first group of non-readers don’t read the book because it’s just not their kind of book. This is not a problem at all, and quite natural. Answers in this category ranged from “I prefer team books” to “I don’t like street level characters.” There is no way you are going to make Daredevil readers out of these guys, nor should you try. There’s a reason comic book publishers offer a vast range of books that differ in style.

The second type of response was the one that cited some aspect of the character that might be considered non-negotiable. One person answered that he didn’t like that Daredevil was blind, though I suppose that could have been a troll. Well, tough luck kid! Unless something major happens to the character’s status quo, you’re not going to see that one change. Another person suggested that Daredevil should start killing people and be more like the Punisher. This is probably equally non-negotiable since the number of fans that would be lost that way is pretty big. Not being like Frank Castle is a core part of the character, and nothing would be gained by working overtime to appeal to the people who would like to see more Punisher in Daredevil. Substantial changes to Daredevil’s powers probably also fit in this category (one person wanted telekinetic powers, to take one example).

The third category of responses was the most interesting since it brought up some concerns that can actually be addressed, should writers and editors choose to do so, and which are sometimes shared by fans as well. It should be noted that I specifically asked people to give their opinions on the character and the book generally. What I was after was not ten reasons why Bendis was better than Brubaker or why the title died after Miller left, but something a little more “character universal” than that. Quite a few respondents gave “too dark” or “too depressing” as the main reason they didn’t care for the book. Others felt that the character’s powers were insufficiently explored. A few people gave some version of “you can’t even tell he’s blind” (a point I agree with, to an extent – though much less so under Brubaker – and which I tried to address in a previous post). Other answers in this category were the expected “he has a lame rogues gallery” and similar complaints. See the graph below for a better picture of what people said.

Survey results

  • The original question, if you want to know how I phrased it, can be found HERE.
  • The number of unique users who posted in the threads at Newsarama (LINK) and CBR (LINK) was 67. Out of these, 50 can be considered respondents since they answered the question. The rest were just fans or people who offered other types of comments. Of course, I excluded myself from this count despite not being able to stay out of either thread.
  • NOTE: Each reason given by a respondent is counted once, which is why the number or responses (total = 73) in the graph below is greater than the number of respondents. This also means that the percentage adds up to more than 100.
  • Most of the responses in the “Other” category were of the “I just don’t like him, can’t put my finger on why” type. Specific reasons that were only given by a single person are also in this category (some were mentioned above, such as “I want DD to kill people” and “I want him to have telekinetic powers”), along with answers that were too vague for me to interpret. For this reason, I suggest people take a look in these threads to see for themselves. Other than that, the breakdown of the responses below gives a pretty good idea of what people’s opinions were. Click on the chart to see it magnified to its orginal size.

Chart outlining the responses discussed in the text.

I will take a closer look at these results in a follow-up post over the weekend and offer some of my own thoughts on this. Until then, I’d love to get some comments from you guys! Also, thanks to all the people who answered my questions. Both threads were very well-behaved, and everyone was very respectful and gave good responses. 🙂


  1. lilacsigil

    I find it really interesting that the “too many breakdowns”/not enough “wins”/gets dumped on by the writers reasons are all one category. I’ve seen male fans turned off by Daredevil not having enough wins, and female fans turned off by the comic being too much of a downer, but not the other way around (“gets dumped on by the writers” crosses this boundary, though!)

    Looking forward to reading more about this!

  2. Christine


    Well, I made up the name for that category to match those entries which I felt pointed to pretty much the same thing. I suppose I could have put them in separate categories, but with the number of people in this little survey being as low as it was (though still many more than I expected), these got grouped together. Generally, I’ve had to interpret what people said to be able to get some kind of bigger picture here, but I would say that this reflects people’s sentiments pretty well. There were definitely some patterns. I will have much more to say on this in the follow-up post. 🙂

  3. Nora

    This pretty much sums up why it took me almost 25 years to become a Daredevil fan although I tried really hard ;-).

    1989, I was 12, the “trial of the incredible hulk” was aired and my first reaction was “what an insanely interesting concept!”. Though in the German synchronisation “Daredevil” was translated with “knight” and I was under the impression that this character was invented for this film only. But the name, Matthew Murdock, never left me again.

    Years later, I entered this name into a search engine and – rejoice! – there was a whole comic series devoted to this character! I went to the next comic store, bought my first two Daredevil comics. I hoped for compelling crime and law drama and a protagonist who mangages to be a blind superhero with a combination of heightened senses, alertness, intelligence, physical fitness and just occasionally the abilty to swallow his pride and ask for the help of a sighted friend. But I found Daredevil fighting Ninjas who dissolved into thin air after being defeated. There went attempt number 1 (rogue gallery, lawyer not used).

    A few years later, I gave it another shot, read Kuljits webpage, read born again (wow!!) and purchased an incomplete Daredevil collection for more money than I could afford as a student. I had fun with the Kesel run, the Silverage-comics were just plain weird and then Daredevil descended into hell or something (WTF???!!!). There went attempt number 2 (book to dark/ strange, lawyer not used).

    Years later, the feature film was announced, I reread all my good issues and started a subscription. Smith was fun, Mack too, Waking up was strange and then came the Bendis issue where Matt is targeted by a snipers and goes berserk after finding a photograph of himself. WTF???!!!! No matter how much you amplify his sense of smell and touch, there is NO WAY he should be able to use a mirror or recognize himself on a photograph. This annoyed me so much that I cancelled my subscription. There went attempt number 3 (blindness irrelevant, don’t like the power set, powers insufficiently explained).

    Then came the netflix series and season 1 kept me entertained for virtually months. The later half of the second season annoyed me almost as much as the first couple of Bendis issues. So I read many reviews in order to figure out why and stumbled over Christine’s Blog. Aber carefully reading each of her reviews, I read Brubaker, Waid, the later Bendis-issues and could become a fully fledged fan again. Now I know enough fantastic Matt Murdock stories that I can shrug of something like shadowland as non-canonical oddity and still drool over a fictional character (well, I do have Christine’s permission). Even the earlier Bendis issues are actually quite good if you know when to squeeze your eyes shut and hum loudly.

    Thank you very much, Christine!

  4. Le

    You didn’t have a category ‘Chin is too large’ or ‘Has Buddy Holly glasses’ or ‘Hair is *actually* fluorescent, then? 😀 What put me off the early DDs were mainly a) how he was drawn- because I’m not too into that oily US Senator look personally, though obviously that was more a product of it’s time etc..
    b) Seeming arrogant/ Invulnerable/ a bit too ‘Gung Ho’- later comics and Netflix certainly dealt with that one- because although Matt retains a certain arrogance, it’s totally matched by a real vulnerability and this works for me much better..
    c) Complexity of character- the further back I go the less I really like DD, but again that’s mainly because the stories don’t have the subtlety or complexity I’m after – I’m too old for cliche, and of course all the innate sexism that slips in to the plots..
    d) Those royal blue suits!!! – Just no. He’s a Lawyer, not a ballroom dancer… blame the colourist for that.
    e) I LOVE street level stuff. Netflix suits me well here- although too many Ninjas IMHO. DD loses me when it goes all Sci fi or magical- although I do love both these genres in their proper place.
    f) His blindness is a thing and should affect the way he functions in society. When it doesn’t I get bored… If I want Batman, I’ll read Batman 😉
    g) Mirrors and photos and non-embossed print and other daft things lose me… sloppy research and lazy plotting..
    But basically, I LOVE DD. More women writers needed to carry on the good work of making him a complex, subtle, nuanced character, I reckon!


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