I just finished watching season two of Daredevil this weekend, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. The characters were wonderfully three-dimensional, the script was great, the acting was great, and the camera work, and sound and visual effects were top-of-the-line. I won’t give away too many spoilers, but just a disclaimer: Elektra annoyed me until the very last episode, and then she was just plain awesome. The Foggy vs. Matt storyline was just a tiny bit heavy-handed, but I have a preference for stories in which the heroes fight the bad guys, not each other, although I have to admit that conflict between friends produces a lot of plot.
So, this morning, my mom sends me this article from The Catholic Thing (never heard of them), and my head nearly exploded at the office. I hate to start a fist-fight between us and our fellow Catholics, but sometimes, somebody needs a good fisking.
As usual, the original is in italics, and my comments are in bold.
Last year I reviewed Season One of Daredevil, the Netflix series about Matt Murdock (played by Charlie Cox) – blind lawyer by day, masked avenger by night – who also happens to be a devout Catholic . . . of a sort.
Well, gee whiz, there was a teeny tiny bit of Catholicism (and very positive Catholicism, at that) in the show, and somehow that’s not good enough?
It’s a leitmotif in that first season that Matt makes frequent trips to church to visit Father Lantom (Peter Robbie), from whom he seeks forgiveness of sins and some practical advice about life.
Leitmotif? Seriously? That applies to music, not TV shows.
A leitmotif is a “‘short, constantly recurring musical phrase’ associated with a particular person, place, or idea. It is closely related to the musical concepts of idée fixe or motto-theme. The spelling leitmotif is an anglicization of the German Leitmotiv, literally meaning ‘leading motif,’ or perhaps more accurately, ‘guiding motif.’ A musical motif has been defined as a ‘short musical idea . . . melodic, harmonic, or rhythmic, or all three,’ a salient recurring figure, musical fragment or succession of notes that has some special importance in or is characteristic of a composition: ‘the smallest structural unit possessing thematic identity.”
And it appears you weren’t actually paying attention during season one, because you completely missed the point about the priest’s forgiveness. Murdock didn’t ask forgiveness for what he had already done; he came and asked forgiveness for “what he was about to do,” at which point the priest tells him “that’s not how this works.” The priest was trying to encourage him to be a good Catholic, and Matthew was resisting. He wasn’t at the point in a conversion experience where he embraces all the sacraments; he was still in the “this nice old priest can give me some good advice” phase, and the associated “confession is a get-out-of-hell-free card” phase. Murdock isn’t finished with his spiritual/moral journey yet, and there’s nothing wrong with that portrayal, unless you’re this reviewer, apparently. The point is actually reinforced in the conversation with the same priest at the beginning of season two, when he reminds Murdock that guilt is a good thing, because it tells you that you’re not finished yet.
That’s mostly missing from Season 2, although references to Daredevil’s Catholicism come up in the generic introduction and credits that front every episode, and occasionally and obliquely throughout.
Really? So you’re getting all offended over “occasional” and “oblique” references? Good grief, it must be hard to be you.
That intro shows melting red wax images of Murdock’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood (Manhattan’s Midtown West), including a Catholic church, an angel, and finally the mask Daredevil wears, suggesting our hero is formed by the Church.
Are you serious? Both the church and the angel in question are very VERY generic. There’s no crucifix anywhere to be found, so no, it’s not specifically Catholic. You’re reading too much into it.
And how does Daredevil’s mask have anything to do with the Catholic Church? He’s not some religious hero; he is “the DEVIL of Hell’s Kitchen.” I’ll agree that there is some religious imagery there. There is a church and an angel in the opening credits sequence. But what other image was there? How about the Brooklyn Bridge? And, oh, right, the BLINDFOLDED JUSTICE, and when last I checked, that was a ROMAN image, not a Christian one. Yep, Iustitia, wearing a blindfold and carrying a sword and scales.
I don’t think the opening sequence was “suggesting” anything of the kind. You need to go back and re-watch it. Because if you look carefully, all the “melting wax” images — Lady Justice, the bridge, the church, the angel — all form themselves; the only image that is formed by a stream of something coming from above is Daredevil’s. He is formed from elements of the city — the law, the culture, and even some religion. All of those things combine to make him what he is. Daredevil even tells the Punisher at one point that there are some people for whom the city becomes part of their identity. Daredevil believes in justice first, then the city, and also good and evil, if not the Church and God directly.
And as you’ll see if you watch the Season 2 trailer below, the promise of a series suffused with Catholicism couldn’t be stronger.
There you go again, reading WAY too much into it. If you do this kind of thing to everything you watch, next you’ll be saying that Johnny Depp’s latest movie, Black Mass, is a horrible abomination and encourages Satanism, when it’s really all about Whitey Bulger and the FBI. Calm down.
As Catholics, we can find Catholic themes everywhere. The Avengers movie is all about protecting the weak. That’s a Catholic theme. Les Miserables is about mercy. That’s a Catholic theme. Even Anime has consistently Catholic themes in it: friendship in Fruits Basket; family in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood; good grief, the list could go on forever. I wonder why? Maybe because Catholics, having the fullness of truth can find Catholic things almost everywhere?
But it’s not very Catholic in its execution.
So what? That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good show. Besides, you’re reading too much Catholicism into those little aforementioned hints, and now you’re wondering why you’re disappointed? Whose fault is that?
That’s not to say there is no Catholic content beyond the use of the word “Catholic” and the single meeting in Season 2 between Murdock and Lantom.
One interesting “Catholic” element is Matt’s new chastity. In the first season he had a brief on-screen affair with nurse Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), but in the second season that affair has ended, and his romance with the secretary of his law firm, Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) never gets physical.
First of all, go back and re-watch season one. He might have been involved with Claire in season one, but you see absolutely NONE of it on-screen. I completely forgot about that little fling, actually, and after I was reminded of it, I even asked my mom if she remembered it at all. She said that all you see is Daredevil leaving her apartment, “and if you weren’t paying close attention, you probably would have missed it, because it’s not clear whose apartment he’s leaving.” The main reason why he was shirtless in her apartment was because he had BULLET HOLES in him, and she was trying to SAVE HIS LIFE. And that little fling was NOTHING compared to the flagrant on-screen sex scene in season two.
I was very impressed with Matthew and Karen NOT immediately jumping into bed with each other. But did you ever stop to think that it’s not because he suddenly found religion? Maybe it’s a more universal theme, that he respects Karen, and wants to treat her right.
Catholics don’t have a monopoly on sexual morals, no matter how much we might think that, given today’s culture. And, even if he did suddenly “find religion” and decide to be chaste, that particular reason has NO BEARING on the story, so why not leave it out? That’s not the POINT of Daredevil. I love it when the characters do the right thing, but that doesn’t mean I assume that all of them went and converted to Catholicism. I love it when characters are good, full-on Catholics, but if they’re not, I can still enjoy the show. Like this one: it’s a perfectly good story of good sense, maturity, and mutual respect, and has NOTHING to do with religion.
And don’t pounce on me for saying that I think shows shouldn’t have religion in them. That’s NOT what I said. I AM in favor of shows and movies having strong elements of Catholicism. You want some strong TV Catholicism? Go watch Blue Bloods. It’s not perfect, by any stretch, but when the characters gather around a hospital bed and start saying the Liturgy of the Hours, including a full-on “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,” instead of a pseudo-Protestant “Our Father,” the way praying Catholics are usually portrayed on-screen, somebody’s doing something right.
The characters praying the Rosary on-screen every episode doesn’t necessarily make the show “more Catholic” or just plain “better.” You didn’t get the show you wanted, so therefore, it’s a bad show? Get over yourself.
Meanwhile an old flame, Elektra Natchios (Élodie Yung), comes back into Matt’s life and tries to rekindle their earlier (from college) sexual relationship (seen without explicitness in flashbacks, although one scene has a hair-tossing, bare-back moment).
“Without explicitness”? Seriously? I left the room for that scene; just the lead-in was more than enough, and the sound effects were worse. You have a very strange back-and-forth style of criticism. One minute, it’s promising Catholicism and doesn’t deliver; the next, you’re excusing its on-screen sex scene? Make up your mind.
But our hero is having none of it. Elektra is another martial-arts expert (Miss Yung is an honest-to-goodness black belt in karate), and together she and Daredevil take on New York’s evildoers.
You weren’t paying attention again. It’s a lot more complicated than “oh, look, Daredevil got a sidekick.” He was trying to get rid of her the whole show, and I spent all of her appearances wishing she was gone because she was a sicko. No joke; the woman is an honest-to-goodness sadist. Daredevil fights bad guys because he wants to save the innocent; Elektra fights whoever is in her way because she gets a thrill from it. Not even a shred of Catholicism in her, at least, not until the very end of the show. No, I’m not going to spoil it. It was so wonderful, it instantly changed my opinion of her.
But what makes Season 2 utterly different from last year’s iteration is another new character, one familiar to comics fans: Punisher. His real name is Frank Castle and he’s played just about perfectly by actor Jon Bernthal, who has the muscular, square-jawed-Marine look of the comic book Punisher, if not that character’s imposing size, which is also true of Cox’s Daredevil.
Yes, Punisher was a bit different from last season’s main villain, Kingpin. Do go on.
Bernthal gives the series’ best performance, and the show is at its best when it slows down its usual hectically violent pace to allow its characters to reflect on the nature of crime, love, and justice – to let its actors act. Look especially for a scene with Daredevil and Punisher in a graveyard.
Yes, that was a good scene. But I have to wonder, what sort of show did you expect to see? This is a comic book hero show. If you didn’t want to see a lot of highly choreographed fight scenes, you’re watching the wrong show, and that’s no one’s fault but yours.
But like Elektra, Punisher is a killer. I’m not sure which of them should be considered the more cold-blooded, although there’s no doubt that Punisher’s body count is higher.
Elektra is worse, no contest. Punisher is a soldier; he has an objective to accomplish, and if that means killing every gang-banger in New York, fine. Elektra, as I already mentioned, is sick. She ENJOYS it. She gets an almost sexual pleasure from stabbing people to death, hence my calling her a sadist. Punisher might be wrong, but at least he has a good reason for wanting to kill the bad guys.
And their homicidal actions are ostensibly set against Daredevil’s refusal to deliver the coup de grâce to anybody, something both Natchios and Castle encourage him to do.
Go get a freaking dictionary.
Ostensibly: adjective. Outwardly appearing as such; professed; pretended.
I don’t think their homicidal actions are “pretended” or “professed” or “appearing as such.” They ARE set against Daredevil’s ways. Your choice of adjective makes it seem like they’re all just pretending to stand for or against something. Yes, the writers are setting them up as foils for Daredevil, which does NOT make your point for you. “Ostensibly” only works here if the writers failed in making those foils. Daredevil, the Punisher, and Elektra are not politicians making a speech about whether or not you can kill a bad guy; they actually stand on their beliefs, whether they’re objectively right or wrong, and that is pretty respectable; more importantly, it furthers the story. WHICH IS THE POINT.
By the way, a “coup de grâce” is “a death blow to end the suffering of a severely wounded person or animal,” which has absolutely NOTHING to do with Daredevil’s reasons for not killing anyone, or with Punisher’s reasons for killing everybody. Neither of them advocate putting a wounded man out of his misery; the question is whether violent criminals should be killed, or beaten up and given to the criminal justice system. So, you epic fail this week’s episode of Basic English Grammar. Thanks for playing.
Punisher says to him: “You’re a half measure.” Obviously, our Daredevil’s no pacifist, but he has his moral scruples! They just happen to be puerile.
So . . . not wanting to go around murdering gang-bangers and drug dealers is “silly or childish especially in a way that shows a lack of seriousness or good judgment”? Are you insane? I thought you were mad because this show wasn’t Catholic enough. That wasn’t a very Catholic statement to make. We’re not supposed to go around killing folks, not even violent criminals, UNLESS we’re facing that criminal and there IS NO OTHER WAY to stop him and protect the innocent. We’re Catholics; not well-intentioned vigilantes. Go read the Catechism:
2263: The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.“
2264: Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
- If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.
2265: Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.
So, yeah. We’re allowed to use deadly force to defend ourselves. That doesn’t mean that we hunt down drug dealers and just take it upon ourselves to kill them.
Daredevil is actually a very Catholic hero. Sometimes, it bothers me when these comic book guys go so far out of their way to NOT kill someone that they put lives in danger in order to do it. Like Batman in The Dark Knight. The way the Joker was played in that movie convinced me that Batman would have been beyond justified in killing him, especially at the end of the movie, when he was about to blow up a ferry full of innocent people. Batman had to stop the bad guy from harming the innocent; he got lucky in that he had the skills to fistfight the Joker and stop him that way. If I had been standing there with a pistol, and the Joker was about to blow up the ferry, I’d have shot him, and I’d have been right to do so (see the Catechism paragraphs above). But I’m not Batman.
Daredevi’s story is a little more complicated than that. He’s not just trying to NOT kill the bad guys; he’s trying to make the legal system stand on its own two feet. He wants justice to be served. Eliminating the bad guys by killing them would hamstring the legal system, or worse, it would make other criminals think that if Daredevil can get away with it, so can they. No superhero operates in a vacuum; his actions, especially when he’s very visible and very popular, affect others. The difference between the Punisher going out and killing those drug dealers and Daredevil deciding to kill one of the evil ninjas wandering around trying to kill him and Karen is enormous. The Punisher is just that — out for revenge. Daredevil is trying to protect the innocent. We all know which road is paved with good intentions, but it does have a lot to do with whether or not a person’s actions are justified.
Daredevil is NOT acting as judge and jury. Remember the foils, Punisher and Elektra? The Punisher assumes the totality of the law; Elektra declares the law is a joke. And as we know from watching the show, Daredevil is in danger of turning into them: “You’re one bad day away from becoming me.” Handling criminals those ways may be tempting, but that’s part of the story, whether or not Daredevil is going to REMAIN A GOOD GUY. At this point, Daredevil is only guilty of punching evildoers. Once they’re down, he doesn’t suddenly turn into the police, the judge, the jury, or the executioner.
Now, take that another way. It seems to me that Daredevil (and Batman, and other heroes) are like alcoholics. An alcoholic can’t have even one glass of wine, because they know that they won’t stop with just one glass. These heroes are so very powerful, that can get to be its own kind of pleasure. It’s power, and what do they say about power? It corrupts.
So, if Daredevil and Batman want to make sure that they NEVER turn to the Dark Side and start killing because they can, then maybe they have to go cold turkey, and never kill anyone, no matter how much they might want to. I can understand telling that kind of story. It’s interesting, and shows that sometimes, right and wrong isn’t always an either/or scenario. It’s black and white, certainly; either a thing is wrong, or it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s always simple.
Now I don’t say that in order to sneer at mercy — certainly not in the Church’s jubilee Year of Mercy — but to point out that you can’t do what Murdock does and not kill people.
Uh-huh. Really? Sounds like you’re sneering at mercy to me.
As surely Miss Yung knows — as any martial artist (including me) knows — you simply can’t hit as many people as hard as Daredevil does — with fists and clubs of various sorts — and not have a bunch of them die.
IT’S A TELEVISION SHOW!
You can’t fly through the streets of Gotham — oh, wait, there’s no such city as Gotham, my bad — with memory-cloth wings, either, but you know what? IT’S A MOVIE! The Stormtroopers are the worst shots in movie history, so much so that it’s pretty damn preposterous to think that they’re keeping the Galactic Empire from falling to a bunch of rebels, but you know what? IT’S A MOVIE! There’s no such thing as a dragon with a voice that sounds suspiciously like Sherlock Holmes, but you know what? IT’S A MOVIE!
We watch television and movies BECAUSE IT’S FAKE. We can be entertained by the BLIND superhero who NEVER kills anyone, but uses his amazing martial arts skills to just beat them up and then hand them over to the police WITHOUT BELIEVING IT TO BE REAL.
Daredevil is a sort of Disney ride of violence, and Murdock is a fighter who doesn’t just dispatch bad guys with one or two blows, but more likely with fifteen, most of them to the head, often with the victim backed against a wall or down on the floor, the effect of the repeated blows leaving the thug’s face a pulpy mess; rendering the man “lifeless” but not dead. This is absurd.
“Lifeless but not dead”? Are you crazy? Where’s that dictionary I told you to go get? “Lifeless” and “dead” MEAN THE SAME THING. Just because you put one in quotation marks doesn’t change the meaning. Unless you’re this guy, of course:
Of COURSE it’s absurd! IT’S A TELEVISION SHOW!
In my view, dramatic license goes only so far, and the beatings leveled by Daredevil — and sometimes taken by him — go way beyond the limits of credibility.
IT’S A COMIC BOOK TV SHOW! We don’t watch it for its credibility! If you want credibility, go watch the History Channel.
Or wait. Maybe not.
One punch can kill. A dozen, if not fatal, can (and almost surely will) cause concussion and even irreparable brain damage. If Daredevil really wanted to avoid killing, he’d be better off embracing the satyagraha of Mahatma Gandhi than the one, true Church of Christ.
So . . . my brother was accosted by a bully in eighth grade. This bully finally threw the first punch, and my brother punched him back. Contrary to what you just said, that one punch KILLED NO ONE. Are you seriously trying to tell me that we, as Catholics, are supposed to lay down and allow the bad guys to just stomp all over us? Are you saying that no Catholic can be a soldier, and go over to kill ISIS bad guys? Every sane person wants to avoid killing; that doesn’t mean that we aren’t sometimes OBLIGED to kill. Know what the ONE TRUE CHURCH OF CHRIST says about killing? See above, and below:
2310: Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.
And seriously, go get that freaking dictionary. Satyagraha is “nonviolent civil resistance.” Last time I checked, that sort of thing only works when the GOVERNMENT is your enemy, not an eighth-grade bully, and not drug dealers. Stop comparing apples to oranges and expecting us to think you’re smart.
You’re not just complaining about the choreography not being realistic enough; you’re complaining WITHOUT ACTUALLY UNDERSTANDING unarmed combat, no matter how many times you tell people that you’re a “martial artist” and that you “get it.” It is possible to punch people without killing them. Ever heard of Aikido? It IS possible to do something similar to what Daredevil does to the bad guys and NOT kill any of them. Would real life use the exact same moves? NO, because that’s called STAGE COMBAT. If anybody went out and tried to use the exact same moves as Daredevil, they’d get their ass handed to them, because it’s FAKE. They look cool, but it DOESN’T DO REAL DAMAGE.
Like I said: IT’S A TELEVISION SHOW! It looks cool, but it’s still FAKE.
As the tension mounts and the criminal conspiracies in Hell’s Kitchen grow in immensity and danger, Daredevil and Punisher confront one another as hostile allies.
“Hostile allies”? How about “an outright contradiction in terms”? Where’s the dictionary?
Daredevil seems to recognize that his way of fighting just isn’t effective, and he says to Punisher:
“Maybe your way is what it’s gonna take,” and he makes the Sign of the Cross.
Maybe he was having a moment of weakness and questioning his principles. That’s a major theme in the show. And if you REALLY look at what the Punisher was doing, Matt Murdock making the Sign of the Cross there is not a bad thing. He was contemplating JUSTIFYING the MURDER of a bad person. That would make me cross myself, too. As much as I like the character of the Punisher (good story, that), he’s STILL WRONG. He is a MURDERER. If the hero becomes a murderer, then he’s NO LONGER A HERO. That’s a point of temptation for Murdock, and is portrayed very well in the show.
And it’s true.
Now I’m scared. You’re actually advocating what the Punisher was up to? Oh, wait. You called Daredevil puerile. I shouldn’t be surprised.
The evil here is, if you’ll pardon the expression, cartoonish in its pervasiveness, and the approach to it taken by Elektra and Punisher at least has the virtue of diminishing the threat.
Oh, so you’re an “ends justify the means” kind of guy. And you write for a Catholic blog? I’m scared now. And go look up “pervasiveness,” while you’re at it.
But every one of Matt Murdock’s opponents returns to the fight. If the war against evil is a war of attrition, Daredevil is losing it.
Really? How many bad guys from season one ACTUALLY COME BACK in season two? Let’s see . . . Nobu the scary ninja, but that doesn’t count, because he had some Japanese zombie medicine to make that possible; Kingpin is, oh, right, STILL IN JAIL, so that doesn’t count, either . . . and yeah. That’s it. You were saying?
It’s Punisher’s world, and Matt Murdock is just living in it.
That makes no sense at all. You are seriously dismantling very obvious core tenants of Catholicism, did you ever stop to think of that? First you want the end to justify the means. Next, you want to say that the bad guys have already won, and so what’s the point of fighting it? If it’s Punisher’s world in this comic book TV show, and Daredevil’s just living in it, then the real world is Planned Parenthood’s world, and all those pro-life protestors are just living in it.
And you know what, even your end-of-review disclaimer needs fisking:
Daredevil Season 2 is rated TV-MA, “unsuitable for children under 17.” In addition to the serial fights, stabbings, and shootings on streets, in restaurants, warehouses, and hospitals, Punisher drinks copious amounts of black coffee. Not a role model. There is frequent spitting out of blood, but no sex or nudity beyond what’s mentioned above.
Um . . . I really hope this is a case of “arson, murder, and jaywalking.” Because I can’t tell if you’re serious about the black coffee thing. You know, I think Matt Murdock and Foggy and Karen all imbibe copious amounts of coffee . . . and ALCOHOL, too. So, the show is just too much for me. I can’t stand it.
And once again, you’re mad at Daredevil not killing people, and the ongoing comic-book-style fight scenes, but okay with the sex scene?
This is a TV show. It’s not real. Get over it. In real life, yes, it’s more likely that the bad guys (at least down here in Texas) would get themselves shot by someone with an LTC, and that would be completely justified (if the aforementioned conditions regarding protecting oneself and the innocent are met, of course). In Daredevil’s New York, however, he’s the superhero, and if he wants to beat up the bad guys and hand them over to the cops, good for him. I’ll cheer him on from my couch.
Yes, we’re Catholics. Yes, I’d be very happy if more shows had consistently Catholic content and appropriate themes. But when they don’t, so long as the content isn’t morally objectionable (*cough cough* Jessica Jones), I can still enjoy them.
If you don’t, that’s fine. You can go watch something else. After all, de gustibus non est disputandum. But don’t pretend to be an expert on what is an isn’t okay for Catholics to watch, and deliberately misrepresent the show in question to make other Catholics think it’s a bad show. It is possible to say, “I didn’t like it, and here’s why” without completely destroying the show.
So, go take your review and:
Follow the squirrel minion to get to Lori’s website, Little Squirrel Books.