I am now three episodes into Daredevil season 2 on Netflix and while I do not think there will be any spoilers ahead just in case I will say now –
“he descended into hell…” – The Apostle’s Creed
There is an obvious irony in developing a character named Daredevil as a sort of Christ for Hell’s Kitchen but in some ways this helps us see the overlap with greater clarity in that we expect there to be none so when they show up they do so glaringly.
Backstory – as a child Matt Murdoch (Daredevil) is involved in an accident that leaves him blind with his other senses heightened to superhuman levels. In many ways he sees far more now than before (or at least after training and honing).
Murdoch’s mother is long gone, his father dies not long after the accident leaving him detached from traditional parents.
Raised Catholic his religion, its various themes and iconography have significant shaping effects on Matt as he evolves into Daredevil. One could argue that Daredevil evolved long before Matt ever put on the uniform in the sense that it is his persona and not some separate alter-ego that comes to life when he suits up, like so many other superheroes. Matt Murdoch is Daredevil and Daredevil is Matt Murdoch.
Daredevil most definitely has a Messiah complex. He very strongly feels that only he can save the people of Hell’s Kitchen. He recognizes that others help in their way but only he, is uniquely fashioned to ultimately do the job.
If Murdoch is Christ than his priest acts as the voice of God for him as he regularly seeks out his advice.
There is a very strong resemblance between Christ and Daredevil in what must ultimately be done for salvation to fully occur – that is that their body must be broken and their blood must be spilled.
There are times when one can almost hear the words of the sacrament if communion from 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 as we watch Daredevil fighting with the forces of evil…
He broke it and said “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
Each time Daredevil enters the fray it is as if he is performing some form of penance on behalf of the ones he is saving and even for those he is fighting, who he believes can be redeemed; Each time it is as if he is partaking in communion.
While there does not need to be a perfect overlap if we were to extend the analogy further we could suggest that Murdoch’s partner Foggy Nelson and their secretary Karen Page fill that role.
The Spirit of God is not so evident or direct as either God or Christ but no less powerful a motivator. Both act in a way that offers constraint and reminds Daredevil that, unlike God, he is constrained and has limits.
If Daredevil is Christ than in season 2 The Punisher, Frank Castle, is fallen Adam…the corrupted image of God/Christ who personifies perfectly Daredevil’s mission. He is both the broken that needs redemption and the evil that needs cleansing.
It is apt that Castle is also Catholic as in some ways he is a dark reflection of Daredevil. He is temptation in the sense that he offers to Daredevil a way to deal with the problem of evil by eradicating not only the source but all who is infected by it.
Daredevil recognizes that evil can only be dealt with at the source if it is to be defeated. To walk the path of eradicating those who are also infected by evil is to walk a path that would ultimately lead to the realization that all of humanity must be eradicated…that none deserve life and all deserve death. This is the path that Daredevil sees and resists at all costs…Castle cannot see this and walks the path willingly.
Daredevil does not send the evil to Hell but rather to Purgatory. Part of Catholic theology Purgatory is that place where the redeemable go to be purified to a point where they can one day enter Paradise. Prison is Purgatory and Daredevil believes that through the criminal justice system people can find redemption.
It is appropriate that Murdoch became a defense lawyer because in his role as Daredevil he continues his advocacy. Christ being the ultimate advocate for humanity the comparison is more than appropriate.
Ultimately Catholicism is the strongest influence on Murdoch who is shaped into not the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen as he is know so much as the Christ of Hell’s Kitchen, offering his body and blood as sacrament for the dispossessed, the evil and the broken that through it, they might be saved. He does this in the same way as the Priest does within the church only in this instance the church is the streets and rooftops of Hell’s Kitchen.
Why the devil suit? Ultimately, while we may conjecture about the similarities between Daredevil and Christ Matt Murdoch would certainly have none of it. The choice of the Devil as his personal imagery has less to do with frightening criminals (as he himself might suggest) and more to do with his own sense of unworthiness and sin.
Ultimately this aspect of Daredevil is what keeps him grounded. It is his humanity and it is the humanity of those he confronts as they are faced with an image of who they really are inside. It is also representative of the ongoing battle Murdoch, and the rest of us, have with ourselves.
Daredevil is the Christ of The Apostle’s Creed, descended into Hell, seeking to save those already there.