Daredevil

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Daredevil is a Marvel Comics Superhero 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 Comicbook/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 and artists 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 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 him), 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 and Typhoid Mary).

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 two children, and are still together, and reportedly quite happy as of this writing.

In 2015, a Daredevil TV series premiered on Netflix, the first of a set of five series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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.


Tropes that were part of Daredevil's original conception:
  • Anti-Hero: Daredevil, who's a Type II
  • Alliterative Name: Matthew Michael Murdock.
    • Hell, Daredevil is an alliterative name--that's why he wears the interlinked "DD" on his front.
  • All Guys Want Bad Girls: He made a life out of having affairs with bad girls such as the Black Widow, Elektra or Typhoid Mary.
  • 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.
  • Appropriated Appellation: "Daredevil" was originally an Ironic Nickname given to Matt by the kids who bullied him at school.
  • 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 both Wolverine 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.
  • 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.
  • Blind Weaponmaster: Daredevil
  • Building Swing
  • Brought to You by The Letter "S": Two interlocked "D"s. The original yellow costume just had one D.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: his athletic abilities are so close to superhuman as makes no difference. In at least one instance he overturned a small car.
  • 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)
  • The Cowl: Just look at the page image.
  • Cradle of Loneliness: After Elektra's death, one cover showed a grieving Daredevil hugging the headstone of her grave.
  • David vs. 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.
  • The 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.
  • 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.
    • One must wonder why he hasn't gone deaf. Although that being said, it's probably his ability to process sounds that's been enhanced, rather than the eardrums themselves being altered.
      • Quite likely yes, but sudden, loud noises can still hurt him though. Stick had senses even more keen than Matt's and he was never irradiated. Stick developed them solely through training.
  • 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.
  • Handicapped Badass
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Matt's relationship with his law partner Foggy Nelson.
    • Also DD and Spider-Man, who know each other's secret identities.
      • Until they don't (or, rather, until no one knows Spidey's).
  • Hurting Hero: More so since Bendis and Brubaker have been writing, though Frank Miller helped quite a bit.
  • 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.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal
  • I'll Kill You!
  • I Love Nuclear Power: In some versions, his augmented senses are the result of the radioactive materials which blinded him. Frank Miller believed that was the Stupidest Thing He'd Ever Heard, instead integrating him into a 'Verse of Supernatural Martial Artists that has become integral to the character.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Although not on Bullseye's level, Matt still is able to return bullets to sender (courtesy of his billy clubs), shoot like Annie Oakley (despite never training with guns) and hit opponents with ricochet projectiles, thrown in manners that circle them around the target.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ivy League: Matt Murdock has a law degree from Columbia.
  • Lighter and Softer: Mark Waid accepted the offer to write Daredevil on the condition that he could move the series away from the overwelming bleakness that had dominated the character for the better part of thirty years.
  • 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.
  • Living Lie Detector: DD is a human polygraph who can hear your heartbeat and smell your sweat.
  • Made of Iron
  • Mole in Charge: For a while, Daredevil ostensibly ran the evil ninja assassins called the Hand.
  • Multilayer Facade: For a while, Matt Murdock pretended to also be his non-blind twin brother Mike, who everyone suspected was secretly Daredevil.
  • 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.
  • The Nose Knows
  • Novelty 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.
  • Oh Crap: When the Masked Marauder realizes Daredevil is unaffected by his blinding eye beams.
  • 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.
  • Pinball Projectile: Bullseye and Daredevil have both pulled this off.
  • 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.
—Wolverine #24
  • Redheaded Hero
  • 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, 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.
  • Superhero
  • Super Reflexes
  • Super Senses: Duh!
  • Swiss Army Weapon: DD's billy club has many different functions and features.
  • Throwing the Fight: Daredevil's father was killed when he refused to take a dive.
  • Triple Shifter
  • Villain Team-Up: Electro and Typhoid Mary would both organize their fellow Daredevil villains in order to try and get revenge on the horn-headed hero.
    • One of the earliest multi-issue arcs featured Daredevil facing off against the Ani-Men, who were already a team when he met them.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: 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.


Tropes that were added, or at least greatly expanded upon, by Frank Miller and modern writers:

Kingpin: A man without hope... is a man without fear.

  • Highly-Visible Ninja: The Hand is a whole bunch of these. Not to mention Elektra, the Stripperific Greek ninja.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Ben Urich
  • Knight Templar: as the leader of The Hand, read Shadowland
  • Large and In Charge: The Kingpin again
  • Legacy Character: Danny Rand/Iron Fist took his place briefly during the Civil War.
  • Lighter and Softer: Mark Waid's current run on the title which has seen ol' hornhead return to being more of an 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.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The series is rather famous for massive status quo shake-ups on a regular basis.
  • Not So Different: The Kingpin gave this one to Daredevil on more than one occasion.
    • The Punisher has also had this talk with Matt.
  • The Obi-Wan: Stick
  • 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
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Since Miller's run, Murdock has generally only been able to achieve these, at best. But he carries on.
  • Rule of Drama
  • 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.
  • Spandex, Latex, or Leather
  • Status Quo Is God: Subverted hard with this series, especially since the Bendis years.
  • Stuffed in The Fridge: Karen Page, who gets dumped repeatedly for "bad girls" and turned into a drug-addicted porn star before... getting back with Matt and being happy again just before she goes into another nervous breakdown and gets killed by Bullseye. Okay...
    • 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.
  • Teeth Flying: 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[1], 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.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Nuke's got the American flag tattooed on his face
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic
  • Wretched Hive: Hell's Kitchen is also often portrayed in this way
  1. different character than P. Norbert Ebersol