My husband and I started watching the Netflix Original series “Daredevil” a few months after it was released, kind of on a whim, knowing very little about it, beyond that it looked at least mildly interesting.
The premise is basically: blind guy becomes a vigilante/superhero in “Hell’s Kitchen” (which is apparently what a part of New York is called). We don’t mind a superhero story now and then, so we gave it a whirl, with very few expectations.
A Pleasant Surprise
Out of the blue, bam, Catholicism.
I think it’s pretty rare to happen upon a Catholic character in a show that’s not about something specifically relevant to Catholicism. But in this show, the main character grew up Catholic and is now actually seeking advice from a priest. Repeatedly! This character, Matt Murdoch/Daredevil, is wrestling with some pretty serious moral questions, along the lines of, “How do I stop a bad dude from doing bad stuff, without killing him? Can I kill him?” And this questioning/advising that goes on is actually quite well-done. It’s not cheesy, it’s not preachy, it seems pretty accurate, and it feels real. To me, it feels like basically everything I could want in the portrayal of Catholicism on screen.
Now, the priest gives him good advice, but because it’s a dramatic show that needs to keep story-lines perpetuating, Daredevil does wrestle with the advice, kind of go against it somewhat, waver, wrestle some more, etc. And I think that’s okay. He’s not a perfect character, but we still get a good dose of what moral theology says to his situation.
Other Moral Issues
The over-riding moral issue that might make one want to turn this series off is some pretty intense violence. I personally just can’t take watching things like a guy’s head getting smashed, so I look away and have Luke tell me when it’s over. Scenes like that happened at least four or five times over the course of the two seasons currently on Netflix. So it’s not like it’s every episode, but it’s still an issue sometimes.
Other things to be aware of, morally speaking, are: some occasional language, frequent non-grisly violence, and the (very) rare sex scene. Nothing, other than that occasional intense violence, that was offensive enough to make us consider stopping the show.
Other High Points
Independent of the Catholic and moral issues altogether, this is just a really well-done show.
I love the character of Matt Murdoch. He’s a pretty upstanding guy for the most part, without seeming cheesy or annoying about it. His buddy and business associate, Foggy, is funny and very likable. Their friend/Matt’s love interest Karen is a deep, multi-faceted character. And of course, I can’t forget the villains: Wilson Fisk, Madame Goa, and the Punisher.
This show does villains well.
Wilson Fisk is a kingpin guy who had a super messed-up childhood and actually thinks he’s doing the city a favor. (On of our few “cheesiness” beefs with the show does come from him, though: he says the phrase “this city” in a dramatic, epic way, way the heck too often…).
Madame Gao is this little old Asian lady who uses a cane and looks like someone’s grandmother. But she’s actually a human trafficker and drug-runner.
And the Punisher is a messed-up war veteran who thinks he is avenging the deaths of his family members by trying to murder the crime lords who killed them.
That crazy violence is the one issue that keeps me from recommending the show unreservedly, but I personally didn’t consider it to be a deal-breaker; it’s pretty easy to look away and wait out, for those of us who are faint of stomach. I feel that, over all, this really is a pretty good option to Netflix. It’s refreshing to see Catholicism represented well in something that is also otherwise so well done. I, for one, will be looking forward to season three coming out next year.