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Context Matters: Netflix’s Daredevil

Matt Murdock stands at a funeral service for a murdered friend. A woolen scarf is wrapped around his neck. It obscures his face. The cold wind whips around him. The situation is as stark as the emotion. He knows that his friend is being lowered into the ground but he himself is unable to watch. He was blinded as a child whilst saving a pedestrian from an oncoming vehicle; the resulting crash spilled toxic chemicals that simultaneously blinded him and heightened his remaining senses. He shivers off the cold while hidden behind his woolen scarf warms him.

It is several days earlier and Murdock – the so called Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, a man whose name will have changed by the end of Netflix’s Daredevil – is reacquainting himself with Stick, the then elderly and now seemingly ancient man who taught him to regard his blindness as a gift and not a weakness, a man who turned a scared boy who had lost his eyesight and then his father into a warrior. Stick has reappeared after twenty years in hiding to ask for Murdock’s help and to question his former pupil. In his aggressive and frankly condescending way, he implies his pupil’s softness by pointing toward Murdock’s silken sheets. Murdock explains that he cannot sleep on anything else. “Cotton feels like sandpaper on my skin.”

The problem with so much storytelling is that we’re meant to both invest and ignore and we’re often asked to do this at the same time. In the above example, we’re supposed to take Murdock’s biography quite seriously while ignoring what appear to be glaring albeit perhaps small inconsistencies. We’re meant to understand Stick’s hardness as an instructor by the way he questions his pupil’s pursuit of scant comfort – sidenote: they aren’t silk sheets, at least per a brief shot we see of Murdock in bed later – and we’re meant to understand Murdock’s chill at the funeral by the way he has his huge woolen scarf tied tight around his neck, but we’re meant to ignore that these two things are plainly at odds with one another.

Woolen scarf versus silk sheets is smalltime. There are bigger problems too, including the idea that this series exists within the broader Marvel Cinematic Universe and that New York City, or at least Hell’s Kitchen, is a crime-ridden hellhole under the covert control of Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk.

Let’s address both very quickly.

The idea that the Avengers have fought space invaders blocks away from where this series occurs – an event referenced within this show – and that everybody involved doesn’t spend every minute of every day discussing this fact is absolutely impossible to believe. That movie’s final battle presumably caused roughly $850 trillion worth of damage to the city and yet life in Hell’s Kitchen remains unchanged. Sure. Whatever. This is dumb beyond all measure of dumb and I’m frankly shocked that the first episode didn’t begin with a producer addressing with the audience with a very heartfelt, “That was bad. We blew it on that. We really need to rethink the extent of the universe that we’re proposing here, because it really requires all of our characters to act in a manner entirely unfamiliar to the modern world.”

Then there’s the idea that Wilson Fisk controls the city’s criminal underbelly to such an extent as to be able to escape police clutches via masked gunmen while on live television. Forget, for a moment, that the Avengers exist with this world, and forget, for a moment, that the Avengers presumably have television, and forget, for a moment, that Ironman can easily travel very quickly, and forget, for a moment, that an alien invasion from an alternate dimension was parried with relative ease, and forget, for a moment, that flying battle fortresses exist and forget, for a moment, that I can literally keep doing this all day. Instead, focus on the fact that the Fisk is able to disappear from helicopter surveillance with ease. In modern America. With many news helicopters having already shown the gun battle.

What are we as viewers meant to do here? The answer would seem to be letting it go, to simply exist within this fantasy world that Marvel has created for us. And that might be a solution, but it’s harder with Daredevil for a number of reasons, foremost being the the intensity of the violence that we’re witnessing. In The Avengers, the Incredible Hulk grabs Loki and smashes him relentlessly on the floor, then says casually that Loki is nothing more than a puny god. This is played for laughs. Oh, ha ha, one superhuman crushed another superhuman and nothing substantive seemed to happen! So those are the rules then? Because in Daredevil, Wilson Fisk smashes a crony’s head in a car door until it literally explodes. Stick removes hands and heads with a swing of a sword. Daredevil himself is routinely thrown, punched, kicked, and in at least one fight, stabbed. In Daredevil, people die, occasionally in truly awful ways. The world that we are watching is meant to be understood as very real, and yet, it is the same world in which somewhere – presumably no more than blocks away – there is a man in a metal suit flying over people at hundreds of miles per hours and another man whose anger is such that he can throw tanks. Which is it?

There isn’t a good answer. The more I think about it, the more annoying the whole thing becomes. I understand that the people who greenlit this storytelling did so because Marvel is Latin for “machine that prints money” but unifying all of them until we’re meant to believe that there might be a day in which the Thor smashes Kingpin with a hammer?

And here’s the thing: if you can stop thinking about that – if you can just watch the show and ignore the references to other, bigger things – you’ll find yourself consuming a hugely enjoyable superhero show. What Netflix has done with Daredevil is give us a very limited world with a very limited cast of characters involved in a very limited fight with one another. We’re not witnessing a war for the world but rather, the war for a neighborhood, the war for a way of life. And we now know at least as much about Matt Murdock’s world as we do about anybody else from Marvel’s world. This was 13 episodes at 50ish minutes each, or almost 11 hours of blinded high-flying suspense and intrigue and action. The stakes seemed far realer here than they have in the bigger Marvel productions precisely because the scope was so much more limited and believable. A madman trying to gain the necessary foothold to destroy and then rebuild a neighborhood is far easier to stomach than a madman trying to literally explode the planet.

Daredevil then gets an enthusiastic recommendation within its own limited confines. If you’re looking for superheroes who aren’t as super, for action that is simultaneously less impressive but more meaningful, for characters that actually seem to have something riding on the outcome beyond “The utter destruction of the planet would sure be a bummer!”, then Daredevil might meet your needs.

If though you’re looking for something that makes sense within the broader universe in which it is supposed to exist? Steer clear here, not because it isn’t good, but because the idea that human beings the same human beings we’re meant to care about here can be entirely nonplussed by Thor and Ironman and the Incredible Hulk fighting block-long metal snakesharks being ridden by mechanized space warriors is simply too much to ask of audience capable of breath.

In case you think a fun thing to do would be telling me that I need to read the comic books if I want to really understand what’s happening here, please don’t do that. Either Netflix’s Daredevil stands on its own or it doesn’t. If it needs other materials to really work, it doesn’t really work on its own. 

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121 thoughts on “Context Matters: Netflix’s Daredevil

  1. You should read the comics, because then you would realize that the same dynamics exist there… multiplied by a zillion. There really is no good explanation for it, just as there is no exp;anation for the existence of superpowers. You can come up with internally consistent explanation for the former, while the latter is a lost cause.

    Your options are either (a) separate the universes, (b) play this out to its logical conclusion (The Authority did this, sort of) or (c) be willing to suspend disbelief further to better tickle your imagination.

    I prefer the last approach. And it’s actually less suspending disbelief than compartmentalizing. Different, but connected, planes of existence. As when pondering stories in which the Greek and Roman gods exist. There are things in which the gods take interest, and things in which they do not even though they could.

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  2. Compartmentalization is something that has long happened in comic books. Hey, if The Flash is so fast, why isn’t he solving all of the problems in Gotham in between solving all of the problems in “Central City”? Hey, if Superman is as fast as The Flash, how come he’s wasting so much time writing stories for the newspaper? He could be helping The Flash in Gotham.

    AND DON’T GET ME STARTED ON THE SPECTRE!

    Anyway, the way that they deal with this is that each hero has his own sphere of influence and other heroes are doing their own thing elsewhere.

    You never have to worry about Superman apprehending The Joker unless there is An Event in which it’s established that The Joker and Superman will be going toe-to-toe. (There actually was a great “Bruce Wayne goes to Metropolis and fights Lex Luthor, Clark Kent goes to Gotham and fights The Joker” storyline and both heroes quickly realized that being a fish out of water sucks. The Joker pied Superman. The newspapers in town covered it in tabloid fashion. It was pretty good.)

    So the acknowledgement that we are in the same universe is a nod given to the sticklers… but we don’t have to worry about Thor hitting Kingpin with a hammer.

    Unless there is an event.

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    • The biggest of these issues, for me, has always been the X-Men’s Storm. The mutants are reviled by some within that universe, and I get it, but I don’t get why Storm isn’t dispatched to undo drought across the globe. Wouldn’t that do as much to fix the X-Men’s standing as anything? There’s a PR war to be won dammit!

      (Sidenote, you mentioned Thor and Kingpin. Are we Facebook friends? Because I just posted this in response to a friend’s comment about the show, “Obviously, you can’t just call Thor on the phone. You probably have to get down on one knee and say, “By the power of Thor…” but still, the point stands. Because Kingpin, even though he’s very strong, just an angry dude with a bald head. That shit ain’t gonna stop Mjolnir.”)

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      • I don’t get why Storm isn’t dispatched to undo drought across the globe

        Some fantastic stories, particularly if magic is involved (and Storm’s powers seem even more like magic than some of the other X-Men’s) have tradeoffs to any power.

        I don’t know if they’ve ever explored this with Storm, but it would be interesting if every time she draws on her power, she disrupts the normal weather someplace else – and so large-scale drought relief is out of the question, as it could cause catastrophic desertification elsewhere or something.

        Maybe global warming is all her fault!

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        • I think there was a story in which Storm fought a dude who blamed her for the drought his area was experiencing because she’d brought rain to other nearby areas. It was kinda left up in the air whether or not it was actually Storm’s fault.

          OTOH, there’s no reason to suppose storm doesn’t regularly bring rain to drought-stricken areas off panel. More than one book has had her doing something like that as the cold open, and she’s generally depicted as one of the more popular mutants.

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      • Warning: TV Tropes Link.

        http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ReedRichardsIsUseless

        This trope deals with the whole issue of how a dude capable of creating universal translators for aliens still lives on a planet with people who can’t understand each other.

        And so on.

        I just chalk it up to how we need to have a universe that is identical to ours, only with superheroes.

        If you want, just say that the superhero universe has the Peltzman effect except it’s 100% over there so the heroes didn’t really get them anything.

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        • It’s one of my huge issues with superhero stories. If there’s tons of superheroes and super-geniuses and they don’t do anything to make the world a better place by using skills that they clearly possess…then are they really heroes?

          It’s a piece of suspension of disbelief that I can never get past. It’s worst with the billionaire genius superheroes like Iron Man and Superman, because “built a costume and fancy toys and use them to beat people up” is never the most beneficial and humanitarian thing you can do with vast wealth and intellect. For someone who’s “just” really strong, it makes more sense that they’d gravitate to “fight bad guys” rather than, say, doing construction, because in the latter case you’d just be replacing machines or putting construction workers out of a job.

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  3. “There isn’t a good answer. The more I think about it, the more annoying the whole thing becomes. I understand that the people who greenlit this storytelling did so because Marvel is Latin for “machine that prints money” but unifying all of them until we’re meant to believe that there might be a day in which the Thor smashes Kingpin with a hammer?”

    I really would like to protest this paragraph (probably because I’m a Marvel Fan boy) because I think it’s actually fundamentally backwards. Marvel was not Latin for “machine that prints money’ and you can ask Marvel about how it was back when they were on their own selling property to anyone who’d buy it. I’d submit that the MCU is a distinct and recent phenomenon. It may well be that MCU movies/shows may be becoming a license to print money but it is because the MCU has been so stringently curated and coordinated. The movies and their interweaving details and interrelation have all been carefully planned and you can be certain that the cutting floors over at Marvel/Disney are knee deep in ideas that got axed as too corny or nakedly commercial. In essence audiences have been buying into it because the MCU’s films don’t feel like they’re just being rolled off a printer to make money; they feel like they’re being made to entertain first and foremost (though of course a film that accomplishes that also makes money hand over fist).

    Time was the Marvel logo was a flurry of flipping pages and a somber flip-flip-flip sound effect of the same. Around winter soldier or so they added a charmingly stirring fanfare and the fans began cheering and clapping when it came on; I think it was added and I think the fans began cheering because both sides feel like it’s deserved.

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    • It’s precisely because fans don’t hold this universe accountable to these inconsistencies that Marvel doesn’t have to worry about them. It can have a world in which people just casually mention the alien attack of a few months ago that destroyed half the city without it being anything more than a thing that is casually mentioned.

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      • They’re accountable to telling good stories. Universe consistency is far more likely to be a hindrance to that than anything. Excessive preoccupation with continuity has been actually had a far more dreadful impact on comics, in my view, than their failure at actual success. At least on the DC side.

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        • I disagree, and strongly. Universe consistency is absolutely necessary in order to have plausible things that make sense. And rules that can be used by more than one person.

          It’s easy enough to write Lord of the Rings, but to invite someone else into your sandbox, you need to have rules and regs.

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            • I find the “notes file” makes surprisingly good stories, actually. If you don’t have 50 pages for a galactic size war, you’re doing a galactic size war wrong!!

              50 pages for a town isn’t that hard, either, if you want to know who’s really running things.

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              • The people that are famous for doing this, like Tolkien, Herbert, and, now, Martin, have created magnificent universes with magnificent stories, but have spawned a lot of straphangers (including, literally, their own kin) that just can’t match the vision of the original visionary.

                Contrast that to, say Star Trek, which, while primarily in Rodenberry’s mind, was fleshed out by many other co-authors and co-creators, (most notably DC Fontana), and while a continuity train wreck, has yielded a better average product over the long haul.

                In other words, the world doesn’t need more fan fiction. The best Doctor stories these days are one-offs. (the worst are when they try to recapture the magic of the one-offs).

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                • b4: you sunk my starship
                  … you wouldn’t believe what they did to that line from the notes file!

                  The best Doctor stories aren’t exactly as one-off as you might expect… they have a disturbing habit of showing up in other media…

                  Because if a story’s good enough to be told once, it’s probably good enough to be told thrice! (but look sharp, because it’s easy as hell to miss the connections.)

                  Oh, and that new bloke running Dr Who keeps on poaching from Thief (at least he’s not poaching sounds, like the bastards from Grimm.)

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          • You have to keep in mind that humans can be pretty dumb, though.

            I read about a great argument that had a European explain “you know that Americans are the only people on the planet who think that you guys didn’t go to the moon, right?”

            Imagine a world that had the capability to connect everyone with everyone else, that could give any given person a working understanding of any given subject. Would you conclude that the majority of the stuff they’d do would involve pictures of naked people?

            Imagine a world with superheroes. It’s just like ours… except now there are magazines devoted to superhero lookalikes taking their clothes off.

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            • “Would you conclude that the majority of the stuff they’d do would involve pictures of naked people?”
              … would you believe that’s the government’s fault?
              Demography’s a bitch…
              (no, I don’t mean the Americans)

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        • I’d argue that the universal inconsistencies are undermining the quality of the stories and I’ll then recognize that I’m basically floating alone on a dinghy taking that position. Still, the idea Ms. Cardenas doesn’t mutter, “If only the Avengers were here to save me, even one of the lesser ones, like that Hawkeye douchebag, or even Black Widow…” even once is impossible to understand.

          And, scandalous as this might be, would we be missing anything more that the inevitable down-the-road teamups if these characters simply existed in different versions of New York City? Do we absolutely need them to be in the same universe for this to work?

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      • I dunno Sam. I can actually believe that there’s a level of destruction where they just, basically, stop talking about it being focused more on picking up the pieces etc. That said I grant that the idea of Kingpin’s escape while Nick Fury is floating around on his skyboat does strain credulity. SHIELD does have headquarters in New York for fish’s sake. Then again gummint beurocracy, Nick probably didn’t even hear about Kingpin until he read it on his favorite blog.

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        • Shield does not have a headquarters in New York. It had a headquarters on the Potomac, but as of the Daredevil series, Shield is in no position to respond to time-sensitive threats in New York.

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          • At the time Daredevil happens in the MCU timeline, SHIELD the gigantic organization is disbanded and has become a small group with its hands full with power individuals and the war on HYDRA.

            In any event, basic street crime isn’t in their remit. Its like asking why the American Army and CIA isn’t taking down gang-bangers.

            Which goes for most of these complaints. Kingpin level street crime isn’t on the radar of the other Marvel heroes. None of the existing heroes act like beat cops, they are either involved in what would be in termed national security matters. Fighting basic crime has never been what any these guys have done in this continunity. Its not their job and I don’t think anyone in universe particularly wants it to be their job.

            Which seems to be the theme of the MCU netflix series. Lesser light superheroes tackling the street level issues that are beneath the notice of the big players.

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            • For several reasons, this is ridiculous:

              1. Wilson Fisk isn’t engaged in “street crime.” He owns the entire city’s political hierarchy, and also owns a sitting senator. Beyond that, his escape involves the killing of at least five police officers on live broadcast television. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also responsible for having blown up multiple buildings simultaneously, an incredible act that was also caught on live television.

              2. I get it that the “big” superheroes are involved in fighting the big badguys, but if I’m genuinely meant to go along with this alleged hierarchy, I can’t accept that the everybody including our main characters is not only never mentioning this fact, but lives as if no such threat even exists. Again, several months earlier, the sky opened up and aliens poured out of it. A giant green monster fought these aliens.

              3. I understand that this is how comic books deals with this situation. It’s ridiculous, but whatever. I’m not dealing with that though. I’m dealing strictly with the boundaries of this particular show. And this particular show suffers slightly for it.

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              • 1. All of which falls under the basic ambit of normal criminal activity and corruption. Its a job for the police not the Avengers or Shield. Those are the people who get involved if something extra-normal is happening, not ordinary crime and corruption. Its not about power levels its about role. Taking on the jobs of ordinary local law enforcement isn’t what those guys do. Now if we’re talking Superman and Batman, what you are talking about makes sense because tackling ordinary mobsters is a thing Superman seems to treat as his responsiblity. Iron Man and Captain America inthe MCU never involve themselves in regular policing though. An international terrorist ring might fall under their ambit, but not a local mob boss.

                What bring Daredevil into the mix is police corruption, but that’s not something that’s going to be noticeable from miles away like the big players are.

                2. MCU continunity is supposed to more or less track real time. The Avengers was a couple years previously in continuity, since then there has been the matters of the fall of SHIELD (Cap 2) and the kidnapping of the sitting President (Iron Man 3) and both of those aren’t new news when it gets time to Daredevil.

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                • Again, I’m not swayed by the hierarchy of superheroes argument – which is useful for comic book writers, perhaps, but not necessarily viewers – especially the absence of even the occasional, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the Avengers weren’t a bunch of uppity dickheads unwilling to help us little people?” But again, if we’re going to believe that there is this hierarchy, and that it is meaningful, then the day-to-day threats to life must be incredible, which is weird, because nobody’s actively worrying about those threats.

                  As for the timeline – was New York City still talking about 9/11 two years later? Are we meant to understand that The Avengers battle for the city was lesser in scope? Or that these folks are so used to massive interdimensional firefights that they’re that quick to forget one the size and scope of the one that happened in The Avengers?

                  Within the world of Netflix’s Daredevil, the broader existence of bigger, more important superheroes is enough to be distracting. Maybe not for fans of the comic book – they must be happy that the comic book got more justice here than it did from Affleck’s nightmare – but if you need the background to make the show work, I don’t think it can fairly be said that the show worked.

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                  • It’s not hierarchy, its role. Half the Avengers lineup are essentially covert/special ops agents, the other half living WMDs. Neither are particularly equipped or inclined towards the role of ordinary policing. Also the overt events of Daredevil are some buidlings exploding and a mobster excaping custody, neither are so out of the ordinary or beyond the capability of ordinary local authorities that they’d call attention to organizations that think in terms of global threats.

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              • First off, New York state senator. Manhattan alone has like five of those, and NYC as a whole has 25.

                Secondly, they mention the avengers or the Battle of New York about once an episode. If they talked about it any more than they do, we’d be annoyed by it.

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    • If that’s important, it’s important. Rough guidelines on which runs are quick, long, dangerous are useful if you’re involving a smuggler/freighter in the plot. Or if you have more than one starship.

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  4. If Daredevil’s Hell’s Kitchen is still a hellhole because of an alien invasion that the Avengers stopped than it would probably be under heavy federal control for rebuilding. Even if the A-team was busy, the place would still be swarming with officials and soldiers to keep things under control. The fact that nobody talks about the invasion is also really problematic. The people in Daredevil are not blasé, they talk about the neighborhood’s problems a lot. They would not ignore a humungous alien invasion.

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  5. “The idea that the Avengers have fought space invaders blocks away from where this series occurs – an event referenced within this show – and that everybody involved doesn’t spend every minute of every day discussing this fact is absolutely impossible to believe.”

    Fred Clark over at Slacktivist has a similar critique of the Left Behind books. The first book opens with, among others, every child in the world disappearing. Then this is barely ever mentioned again.

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  6. I’ve seen good world-building continuity in comic books, but it tends to either be comic books that are disjoined from a “universe” or a very limited number of titles.

    Marvel and DC have this problem because there’s not very much in the way of a continuity scale for the power levels. It’s kind of hard to have tension in a book about a guy who can lift a school bus on his best day while nearly straining his back… with another guy who can bench 450… with a gal who can fly faster than the speed of light and blow up enemy armadas.

    Plus there’s the whole… “Wait a minute, if Professor X can augment his psi powers (including telepathy and mind control) with a machine, how exactly are going to beat the X-men, ever?”

    “Oh, Magneto’s helmet is made of psionically resistant material”

    “Uh, then why doesn’t everybody on his team have such a helmet?”

    “Mumble mumble.”

    You know, like… why does anybody on the Avengers not have at least a body suit that’s half as powerful as Iron Man’s armor? Why the heck would you have Captain America running around in low-grade ballistic armor as his costume, relying upon just his normal (albeit impressive) physique when he could be wearing a combat suit that Tony could whip up in an afternoon with spare parts? How is *anybody* on a hero team vulnerable to psi powers if there’s a way to make psi-resistant helmets? Jeeze, wouldn’t Dr. Strange have whipped up a batch of a thousand of these things by now?

    Universe-level continuity tends to look about as cohesive as the plot line of “Lost”.

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    • In at least some cases, we can just assume that cost is a limiting factor. For example, maybe it would just be way too expensive or otherwise difficult to make a psi-proof helmet for everyone. Lots of real-world technology is extremely useful for dealing with specific threats, but we don’t use all possible forms of protection all the time.

      Also, would you personally wear one in real life all the time? Just on the off-chance of running into Professor X?

      But I’ll give you the Iron Man problem; Stark seems like he could easily afford to give a suit to each Avenger who could use it.

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      • Lenoxus,
        If the helmet didn’t impede vision, I’d probably wear it. It’s not like having a gun, which comes with actual risks of shooting oneself or others (or having a criminal take it from you…) [yes, gun nuts, I do understand that proper usage means minimal risk.]

        There are people in this world who use devices to detect radiation poisoning on a daily basis (NOT the nuclear lab techs)

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      • Also, would you personally wear one in real life all the time? Just on the off-chance of running into Professor X?

        If I’m an X-man and I existed at all in the range of issues from 97 to 145, you’re goddamn right I’m wearing that helmet as part of my default uniform. Maybe even all day. Until the end of my career (I am also making sure that any adventure that involves fighting somebody with psi powers or mystic powers ends with somebody’s head dis-joined from the body, which is immediately burned to ashes).

        Lots of real-world technology is extremely useful for dealing with specific threats, but we don’t use all possible forms of protection all the time.

        Yeah, that’s fair enough, but I’m not talking about walking around in your skivvies, I’m talking about when you’re in costume.

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  7. I’m not a comic book geek. Mostly because I couldn’t get my hands on them when I was a kid. (My main thing during that typical phase of life was Mad Magazine, which probably explains a lot about me.) So basically all I know about these characters and worlds is from the movies and T.V. shows. All I’ve seen of DD is the first episode and I don’t specifically recall the reference to the Battle for NYC. Was it in the first episode?

    Anyway, without knowing any of that and just based on what I’ve seen, which isn’t everything available, DD seems much more like a character out of the DC/Batman/Arrow/Flash universe. Not really possessing super-powers so much as being very, very competent at kicking bad guys’ asses. And yeah, I realize that doesn’t quite make sense given the Flash being in there, but I haven’t actually watched much of that. Whatever.

    Okay. To recap: You have (at least) two completely separate superhero universes, neither of which makes a lot of sense in terms of internal consistency, but both are hugely popular and entertaining. Fuck it. Pass the popcorn.

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  8. I think the MCU has actually done a really good job of putting their street-level heroes in the same universe as their most powerful heroes.

    The problem with the “well, Thor could just smash the Kingpin with his hammer” argument is this: Thor doesn’t fight crime.

    In fact, none of the Avengers fight crime, at least not in the Daredevil context. Thor fights ice giants. Hawkeye and Widow fight terrorists and spies. Hulk fights his own dark nature. But none of them actually tackle street crime.

    Yeah, Aliens Invading is crazy. But they talk about the alien invasion. It’s their excuse for why modern gentrified Hell’s Kitchen looks like 1980s hells kitchen. And aliens invading is a little bit less unusual when you’ve had giant green monsters and men in power armor for the past decade, and when Captain America fought the Red skull in the 1940s.

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      • More importantly, it’d be scary as fish!

        I mean, there are plenty of reasons we don’t want the Army or the CIA fighting urban crime and local government corruption. And relatively few of them have to do with how efficient that would be. The avengers (Those who are not gods and monsters) are incredibly powerful Military and Intelligence assets, designed to fight hot or cold wars. I wouldn’t want them doing the job of local police for liberty reasons as much as anything else.

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          • Imagine, oh, something like this happening:

            “Thor, we need your help bringing something close to stability down there in Selma. The coloreds are having themselves a march.”

            “I will go down there, senator, but I will be smiting the police who are attempting to violate the rights of the American Negroes. Send ambulances. Call now and tell the governors that they may wish to only send police officers without wives or children to work today.”

            What are you going to do? Put a god under arrest? Argue theology with him? Explain the importance of the process of law enforcement and stability?

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        • Watchmen deconstructs all this in multiple directions – Dr. Manhattan is explicitly referred to as a superman/god, and used as a war weapon, affecting geopolitics in destabilizing ways.

          On the other hand, the Comedian, who has no powers other than sheer ruthlessness and fighting ability (sort of a Captain America, but with no conscience) is not only a bad idea on the battlefield, but when being used for domestic police purposes like riot/crowd control.

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  9. Oh, good grief. Can’t someone watch a TV show without having to psychoanalyze it to death? No superhero TV/Movie is going to be the greatest form of art, but I think as storytelling goes, it does a fairly good job.

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    • Torchwood’s problem is that their staff is too busy having sex with each other and they ignore their responsibilities. Its why the most effective superhero teams forbid romantic and sexual activity between teammates.

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      • Because using your shiny toys to be a date rapist is So Much Better than letting natural romance bloom… (Yes, Torchwood went there. And then wanted us to sympathize with Owen. Bad Torchwood). The problem isn’t that they’re having sex, it’s that they’re pure and simple selfish assholes (well that and idiots.)

        You could, if you wanted to be generous, see this as a deconstruction of the mythical Super Spy idea of superheroes. (Austin Powers did it better).

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  10. In something like the MCU, absolute continuity and consistency matters a lot less to me than whether the individual stories are well-written and enjoyable. It would be tedious if the entirety of Daredevil was people talking about the aftermath of Avengers, so a few mentions of it works fine for me. My issues are with the show’s moral framework.

    Same with the individual movies. Why don’t the Avengers show up in each others’ movies? I don’t really care. (Though in some cases there are obvious answers. Do I really need to explain the issues with having an alien like Thor show up and attack SHIELD to resolve the plot of Winter Soldier? You’d end up starting a war between Earth and Asgard.) I care about whether the movies themselves are good – and I’d say the Iron Man ones are mostly okay (with IM2 being pretty bad), the Thor ones are sub-par (but the first one has a few very funny moments), Incredible Hulk is about average, and Winter Soldier was good.

    If you’re making a big universe with a lot of different kinds of characters and stories, you have two choices. You can do what Marvel is doing, or you can have every story dominated by continuity issues and interconnections to the point where telling good individual stories is impossible.

    The combined universe facilitates the stories, but it itself isn’t the story – like, for example, the tech in Star Trek. Your complaint is like saying that Star Trek’s technobabble is bad science and they need to go into more detail on how the transporters and everything work: in order to go into enough depth to resolve the complaints, they’d have to get rid of the plots and just have the entire crew deliver exposition for an hour.

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  11. I find this post, and a lot of comments, very baffling.

    First, as some people have apparently forgotten, not only does S.H.I.E.L.D. functionally not exist in the Marvel universe anymore, it wasn’t a damn local law enforcement organization when it did. It was some sort of multi-national intelligence agency keeping control of WMDs and powered people. We don’t know exactly what sort of treaties it had with everyone, but ‘arresting people for shooting other people’ is certainly not a power it has.

    Secondly, this post seems to be working off the idea that the Avengers are crime-fighting vigilantes, and would be willing to work with other vigilantes, which pretty soundly ignores the fact they *aren’t* crime-fighting vigilantes. At all.

    They’re a random group of people that, at one time, were given quasi-government backing to stop an alien invasion, and when not doing that they do other things, like taunt terrorists (Stark) and expose government conspiracies (Rogers) and fight multidimensional wars (Thor) and try not to kill everyone (Banner) and try to explain that, despite previously working for SHIELD, they are not terrorists (Barton and Romanova.)

    They do not have secret identities (Except Banner, sorta), they do not roam the streets fighting crime.

    Thirdly, even if they did, *Murdock does not know them*, and has absolutely no way to contact them. And how exactly is that supposed to work? Steve Rogers answers the phone, and Murdock says ‘You don’t know me, but I’m that ‘Devil of Hell’s Kitchen’ guy, and I think that some of our police are corrupt. I know you’re from New York, so come up here and beat some people up on the say-so of a guy you don’t not know. Be sure to wear your Captain America suit…what do you mean you don’t beat people up just because a random masked person asks? Especially not one wanted for murder? And what do you mean that everyone knows who Captain America is, so they’d come and arrest Steve Rogers for assault if he started doing crap like that?’

    The main Marvel universe has this as an actual problem. ‘Why doesn’t Daredevil just call Spider-Man all the time?’ (Which…he does.)

    But the MCU does *not* have this as a problem…Daredevil doesn’t know any of those people! And they’re world-wide heroes, and presumably screening their calls. And those people aren’t vigilantes to start with! You might as well ask why he doesn’t call in Seal Team 6!

    And thirdly, the series mentioned the alien invasion all the time. It’s apparently referred to as ‘The Incident’, at least in New York. Which sounds odd, but not odder than the name ‘9-11’. And, as others have mentioned, it’s the apparent explanation of why we’re looking at a Hell Kitchen that doesn’t actually resemble the current one…the place got damaged during that and is slowly being fixed, and Fisk wants to basically rebuild the entire thing.

    Granted, this explanation doesn’t *quite* make sense when we see the actual area…it looks like it’s been slummy for a long time. I’d have liked to see some destroyed buildings or something explaining why the place had gone downhill. But this was going to be a problem forcing Daredevil’s backstory in the modern day at all, as Hell’s Kitchen has changed too much since the 80s. The invasion might be a poor explanation, but without the invasion, there’s no explanation at all!

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