Religion in Daredevil is a reoccurring theme. The character Daredevil fights crime in Hell’s Kitchen, sees the world as though it was on fire, and calls himself a Catholic. What does it all mean? Read on to find out!
At the tip of the iceberg of this theme is Matt’s Catholic background. It is frequently referenced in the show both by Matt himself and by others. The original comic book writers always intended for the character to be Catholic, but it wasn’t mentioned until Frank Miller took over the failing series in 1980. Frank Miller developed Daredevil in to what we know today. During this process, he made Matt’s Catholicism an important part of the character, which is a reference to his own Irish Catholic background. To develop this even further, Matt’s character developed a stronger connection to Father Lantom.
In the first episode of Season 1, “Into the Ring”, the second scene is Matt in confessional with Father Lantom. Matt asks for forgiveness for what he is about to do. Lantom replies, “That’s not how this works. What exactly are you going to do?” Matt doesn’t reply, but comes back at a later time to tell the Father that he did what he told Lantom about earlier. Throughout the season we see this relationship continue to be an important part of Matt’s life. He constantly returns to seek a sort of confirmation from Father Lantom that his actions as Daredevil are okay.
One of the most important conversations takes place in Season 1, episode 9, “Speak of the Devil”. In this conversation Matt asks Lantom if the devil exists. Lantom replies that he originally thought that the devil stood for any adversary, because it aligned with the Hebrew meaning of the word “satan”. He then says that he changed his mind when he met a man in Rwanda who killed a peaceful old man that no one had been able to hate or hurt before. The important part of this, is that back in episode one, when Matt is speaking to Father Lantom in the confessional, he told Lantom that his mother always said that the Murdock men had the devil in them, and that he saw it in his father when he was boxing. What Matt is really asking in this conversation with Lantom in episode 9, if it is possible that he is the devil because of his vigilante actions and his thoughts about taking Fisk’s life.
Continuing this is Daredevil’s name. Before declaring a name, he was called the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. While “daredevil” has a lighter connotation than “the Devil of Hell’s kitchen” all comes back to the idea of the devil. Likewise, another part of the metaphor is the idea of hell. One of the most obvious connections is that Daredevil exists in Hell’s Kitchen and Hell’s Kitchen alone. We never see Matt or Daredevil move outside of this part of New York. Where else would the devil be but in hell?
This idea of hell is pushed forward even more by the color symbolism used in the show (read an entire post about that here!). Matt describes the way he sees the world as a world on fire. In one scene we get a glimpse into the way he sees, and it is made up of only yellows, oranges, and reds. This is continued through Daredevil’s outfit, which is comprised of mostly red, Matt’s glasses, which are tinted red, and the cinematography using highlights of yellow and orange. People associate hell with flames and heat. It would only make sense that Daredevil sees the world on fire.
All of this put together points at one idea: that Daredevil is actually the devil. However, that is a little heavy-handed. It would be too far to say that Matt’s alter-ego is the devil walking among man. Instead, this is an intricate metaphor to talk about how Daredevil is not a good hero. Daredevil hurts people and lies and pushes the limits of that is legal and what is acceptable as set forth by the church. It is a constant commentary about what makes Daredevil good compared to what pushes him closer to the edge of being evil.
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