Professor James Pyle
25 May 2018
Demand of Violence
Daredevil: Guardian Devil by Joe Quesada is a dark and gritty Marvel superhero comic. The story portrays the life of Matt Murdock a.k.a. Daredevil as an irony filled with pain and misery. From the backstory of how Murdock obtained his power itself, we know how his past was bitter. Murdock was a kid whose vision strayed away as a result of being splashed by a chemical container. As if Matt’s life was not miserable enough, the authors managed to increase the bleakness of Matt Murdock’s life by killing his ex-girlfriend and using his faith against him. What has always been a powerful influence of how the authors treat their character is the demand of the audience. Additionally, the demand of audience does not only affects superhero comics but also superhero films. I truly agree when Nick Pinkerton said in his article Please Send Help, “By contrast, the superhero ?lm’s principal responsibility is to ‘fan service.'” With that being said, it is clear how the dark and gritty elements that flooded the comic and movie industries were done as a fan service.
The Daredevil: Guardian Devil portrays numerous scenes of violence. Some of those undeniably hard to imagine, such as the Church rampage in which Bullseye, the psychopathic assassin, butchered people in the house of God with dull objects. It even mentioned how Bullseye slaughtered a nun with her rosary bead. Another scene brutally showcased the death of Karen Page, Murdock’s ex who somehow still had a special place in his heart. Karen was killed while she was trying to give diversion in order to save Murdock from Bullseye. In the Church, Bullseye threw Murdock’s signature Billy club into Karen, impaling her right in her heart. Murdock screamed in misery as Karen’s blood burst out of her chest. Sometimes, it is hard to believe that this level of brutality happens in a universe where the Avengers exist. In which characters like Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America are those beloved by children, especially after the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies boom in the past decade.
The tone of the story itself was dark and gritty. For example, Karen, was treated with disregard given her backstory as a porn star, who later became a junkie. If that is not gritty enough for you, she was then infected with AIDS, or at least she thought she was infected. After the death of Karen, Murdock was so depressed that he started to show a suicidal behavior, he was drunk and he pointed a loaded revolver into his head. Luckily, he did not kill himself as he was reminded by Karen’s message that the city needs him to never quit fighting crimes for justice.
The brutality and darkness that exists in the superhero genre often cause us to wonder why it is necessary for this kind of viciousness to be portrayed in a superhero comic. The reason lies within the fans and audience who always demands new elements of story, and the industry’s responsibility to serve their fans. At first, superhero was a thing for children, but as time passed, people started to develop “dark and gritty” comics as they realized that the audience wants significant changes in the comic industry. Just like comics, the same thing also happened with movies. However, in terms of applying new elements, movies are not as flexible as comics. Comics like Daredevil: Guardian Devil is one example of a medium where the artists can experiment with new elements. These may include depressing and grotesque elements in the superhero genre that might never have made it to the big screen.
Lately, things have changed drastically in the superhero movie industry. Logan by James Mangold dared to make the difference. Without Walt Disney’s moral ethic and content restrictions, James Mangold under the 20th Century Fox was able to push Logan into its limit. Nick Pinkerton described Logan in his article as a violent movie with high-body-count. Not only that it is brutal, Logan also portrays a miserable life of an old man who was cursed to live for eternity thanks to his healing factor. The portrayal of Logan and Matt Murdock is not much different. They both are depicted as a person of alcoholism and suicidal thoughts as result of their bitter life. As Nick Pinkerton said, Logan is a movie filled with depressing things such as: “meds skipped, cars that don’t start, aging “parents,” and the anxieties of fatherhood (a fatherhood, it should be noted, achieved without sex, which remains as anathema to the superhero ?lm as to most contemporary blockbusters).” Logan was proven to be a very successful Marvel movie; in fact, Nick Pinkerton mentioned that criticasters think that Logan should have won Best Picture nomination. Deadpool however, also managed to satisfied Marvel fans by mashing up humor and gory violence.
From the words of Nick Pinkerton, heroic self-projection is nothing new. We always love to see superhero movies or reading superhero comics while imagining or projecting our self as the caped crusader. The problem is, heroic actions will not be the first thing we do if we manage to obtain a superpower for real. Driven by our blood-thirsty human nature, the first thing we will do if we gain superpower is most likely to annihilate those who stand against us. Just imagine if we managed to obtain Wolverine’s adamantium claws. The first thing we’ll do with that power is most likely to chop the head of a guy who stole our girlfriend in high school. This is one of the reasons why Logan managed to succeed; audiences somehow enjoy the idea of an old man who slaughters waves of enemies with his claws as he strives to protect his daughter. We have to admit that somewhere deep inside our consciousness, we love to project our self as a mutant with adamantium claws that can easily tear our enemy into half. A similar thing also occurs in Daredevil: Guardian Devil. Mad Murdock is portrayed as a blind man who got his girlfriend murdered, got himself deceived, and i driven crazy by Mysterio’s illusions. As for Matt Murdock, he finally got his revenge when he says emotionally sharp sentences which cause Mysterio to blow his own head. But still, he brutally beats hordes of Mysterio’s men before finally encounters the bubble-headed villain. We have to admit that we love to give revenge to those who have put us down.
In the end, fans will always demand something new, and they will always want a deeper self-projection within every new superhero movies and superhero comics. It is the responsibility of superhero movie and comic industry to do the “fan service.” The superhero genre will always evolve as it tries to follow the ever-changing demand of the fans. But no matter how many changes and new elements that are added to the genre, the superhero comics and movies will always have the same characteristic. In which they will always provide a satisfying ending where the heroes reach their goal, although they may sacrifice their live to achieve victory or justice. However, there will always be a balance in Hollywood between “dark and gritty” superhero movies and others that are suitable for all ages. As we know, the MCU under Walt Disney will always provide us with lighthearted, comedy-fueled superhero movies for everyone each year.