Things that have me excited for the Daredevil relaunch – Part 3

Time for another quote, and this one literally had me going “Finally!” when it first appeared. I touched on it before, at the time the interview this quote is from (with Mark Waid, conducted by the Westfield Comic Blog) first surfaced, but since this is a countdown of some top moments from interviews and previews, I wanted to return to it again:

“There’s a LOT of Daredevil point-of-view action in this series, and not just the same old radar-sense effects. Heavy emphasis on sound effects, heavy plot emphasis on what Matt can and can’t detect with his enhanced senses. A focus on how in our screen-focused 21st century, how Matt’s powers are actually maybe NOT as useful as they were 15 years ago or so–not in an era where almost everyone communicates via smartphone…”

I’m sure that the extent to which Daredevil fans care that the title character is blind varies quite a bit. As do, I’m sure, people’s opinions on what this should mean in a more practical sense for the character and how this should be showcased in the Daredevil comic. I’ve made my own stance on the topic abundantly clear in the past. As longtime readers will know, I feel very strongly that Matt Murdock’s lack of sight is an integral part of his power set – it is really the backdrop against which his other heightened senses operate – as well as a perceptual deficit with obvious practical implications.

I’m sure that if personal computers had been commonplace in the 60’s, Stan Lee would have endowed Matt Murdock with the ability to decipher them. Because, as much as he obviously strived to create a character who was different, there was also the sense that this shouldn’t really matter in any way that prevented the title character from doing anything as well as – and preferably better than – the sighted people around him. On some levels, this is entirely understandable given the more obvious stigma of disability nearly fifty years ago and the possible fear of having readers feel more pity than awe for the new superhero.

However, things have changed, both socially and in terms of available technology (for people with disabilities as well as mainstream audiences). There is no reason for any Daredevil writer in the 21st century to back down from the idea that for Matt Murdock, fighting off ninjas is likely a much smaller challenge than ordering online plane tickets. It’s okay to acknowledge that. The only readers who will mind any and all mention of Daredevil’s “weaknesses” are the ones who, in my opinion, have some real growing up to do. I, for one, am glad to see Mark Waid manning up to the challenge of exploring Daredevil’s entire power set. Matt Murdock can do extraordinary things, but he can’t see. Oftentimes, this doesn’t matter. Sometimes, it does.

Christine Hanefalk

Christine Hanefalk

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Christine is a die-hard Daredevil fan who launched The Other Murdock Papers in 2007 to share her passion for Matt Murdock and his friends with other fans.

4 comments

  1. Perfectly said

  2. An interesting view which I can’t wait to see how Waid defines. Matt’s blindness is an essential part of his character. Yet his radar sense (however you choose to define it) sometimes makes one forget completely about it. (Which is what bothered me the most about Brubaker’s and Diggle’s run. No depiction of his radar sense and other than his wearing dark glasses and a cane, very little depiction that Matt is blind)

    Waid’s view brings into question a plethora of intriguing circumstances. For instance, Matt can ‘read’ the ink of newspapers and such. So if he used a touchscreen like on a smartphone, could he feel the actual electrical impulses operating it?

  3. Generally speaking, I think the writers who have been good at depicting Matt using his senses are the same ones who have been the best at remembering that he’s blind. Because the two go together and form a big perceptual “whole” so to speak. The writers who don’t bother thinking about this much, just write Matt as any other character who is sighted, but low-powered, maybe thinking that the two just cancel each other out, which makes for a much less interesting character.

    When it comes to what Waid said about smartphones etc, I can’t imagine that he would handle this in any other way than to simply acknowledge that Matt can’t access screens at all, and that he would use other forms of technology to get around this, the same as any other blind person.You might remember that there was a brief time during Chichester’s run, when Matt could read computer screen by touch. It made no sense then, and it makes even less sense today (Matt’s ability to read print has repeatedly been said to be due to the texture of ink on the page and with screens, there simply is no such texture to go by, check the link to see what I mean exactly). In fact, should we ever see the return of Matt doing what he did in the Chichester run, I might even stop reading Daredevil altogether, that’s how strongly I feel about it. Because it would be the same as saying that his blindness can never actually really matter and I think that would be very unfortunate. I personally don’t think his heightened senses should compensate for everything, but I fully respect that not everyone agrees with me on this one.

  4. I don’t think his heightened senses should compensate for everything either. Else his blindness becomes a mute and irrelevant condition. His radar sense allows him to function better, but in a world so dependent on visual information and cues, he still can’t see and that has to count for something.
    Writers who forget that lose part of the unique appeal of the character.

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