Reviews Television

Daredevil (2015) – A World on Fire

In anticipation of season 2 of Netflix’s Daredevil, which comes out on Friday, March 18th, I’ve decided to share some of my thoughts on the first season. If you haven’t read them yet, I’d recommend checking out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4 of my blog series first.

As with most reviews, the following may (read: definitely does) contain spoilers – consider yourself adequately warned.


Cover of Daredevil Vol 1 by Mark Waid, featuring the typographic "world" of Daredevil
Probably one of my favourite Daredevil covers of all time

The final element that stood out to me in the first season of Daredevil was the brief moment that we, the viewer, get to see the world from Matt’s point of view. Throughout the various comics and adaptations, producers of Daredevil have always tried to let us “see” his world, representing the “shadow realm” in various ways. For Mark Waid, this meant representing Matt’s world through words, with his surroundings being made by the sounds objects make. The idea here is that because Matt’s world is largely formed by sound, we are shown a world ‘built’ with word representations of the sounds objects make, like the whoosh of a fan or the ‘flap’ of a pigeon’s wing. But is this really his world, the world of a blind man, or merely a refiguring of our sighted world? If a blind man asks us what the world looks like, how would we describe it? Probably with words. So, these representations are really just a reflection of our (the sighted) world seen through the lens of imagined blindness.

An animated gif of the world Matt Murdock "sees" -- a world on fire Netflix’s Daredevil decide to go in a slightly different direction, shifting away from the word-based Waid view and the echo-location Affleck view to the ‘world on fire’ and, honestly, I think it says more about the character himself as opposed to our imaginations of blindness. In this series, Matt doesn’t live in a dark and murky world (as we so often associate blindness with darkness) but, instead, is essentially living in a bright firey hellscape. His world is constructed by pulsing oranges and reds, influenced by heat and sensation as much as noise. It seems fitting that a character dubbed “Daredevil” would see himself operating in a figurative world of fire, fighting off demons in Hell’s Kitchen. There’s a pleasing symmetry to this evolution.

Also significant about this re-visioning of Daredevil’s “sight” is the fact that throughout the first season, we only get a glimpse of this world once. Perhaps not intention, this isolated view into his world is a reminder that this is Matt’s world, not ours. It could be read as a way of isolating Matt’s experience and drawing a clear delineation between us and him.

Conversely, perhaps this was the creator’s way of pointing out the deficiency of our own senses–we are cursed to experience Matt’s life through the blandness of our own normative eyes instead of the spectacular and vivid sense-scape he gets to exists within. Unlike so many other texts about disability that entice the viewer to immerse themselves in the world of the Other, this text almost completely denies us this privilege.

In the end, this text casts us as the disabled ones.

By Jeffrey Preston

Born with a rare neuromuscular myopathy, Jeff has spent his life dedicated to advocating for himself and others with disabilities. With a PhD in Media Studies from Western University, Jeff's research focuses on the representation of disability in popular and digital culture. Jeff is currently an Assistant Professor of Disability Studies at King's University College @ Western University in London, ON.