Fans demanded the return of Matthew Murdoch after the tragic end of the Netflix universe almost half a century ago. Among the voices calling for the return of this fan-loved character, there were those who had doubts. Fans want the Devil back, but not if he’s not allowed to be the character they love.
One of the most persistent complaints about Disney owning the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been the homogeneity of their efforts. Fans claimed that adaptations of their favorite comic book stories suffered because Disney sought to make all aspects of the universe similar. The death of the Marvel Netflix show has been a big help to this argument, and recent efforts have not helped.
Comic book fans usually demand dark and gloomy adaptations of their favorite stories. Maybe it’s a mistaken desire to make your hobby more “mature”, maybe it’s a general aversion to anything upbeat or optimistic, but, in any case, a vocal subset of fans requires sharp material. For example, “Moon Knight” recently appeared on Disney Plus, and the lack of blood and violence in it seemed to annoy many fans. The Marvel Netflix universe has generally relaxed strict restrictions on adult content. Fortunately, most of this has been handled well, using a higher tolerance to approach more mature topics along with the necessary blood and swearing. The most popular Marvel series on Netflix has overwhelmingly been Daredevil, and fans want Charlie Cox to look at this character more. The character is due to appear in The Hulk Woman movie, but fans were outraged by the statement made by the show’s creative team when his participation was announced.
“The Hulk Woman”, like the comics that inspired it, will be a judicial procedural comedy with typical superhero material. Jen Walters is known for jokes about the fourth wall, and the trailer is filled with jokes about the other pillars of the franchise. With that in mind, the idea of Matt Murdoch, a character associated with bloody violence, reuniting in a comedy series is contradicted by some fans. The creators of the show made it clear that fans will see the “bright side” of the character, who is so well known for hiding in the shadows. Many believe that Matt Murdoch will suffer a fate that they have seen in the lives of many other characters. Fans of Marvel’s dark and harsh materials won’t tolerate Matt Murdoch’s censored version, but has anything really changed?
Over the course of three seasons of “Daredevil,” one season of “The Defenders,” and several cameos elsewhere, fans have seen quite a lot of Matt Murdock in the MCU. His personality is well established, but very few brilliant happy moments stand out. While that may not be what he’s most remembered for, Matt Murdock is a funny guy. When he is not actively fighting for his life, he makes sarcastic jokes with his friends, playfully makes fun of his enemies or even jokes at his own expense. He is often portrayed as a comedic straight man with his weirder partner Foggy Nelson, or as a relatively well-tuned voice against Elektra, but he regularly delivers funny lines.
Matt’s sense of humor is very similar to any other aspect of his personality, it is closely related to his anger, his determination and his guilt. He throws out typical growling quips when he’s in combat, like his years-long back-and-forth chat with Turk Barrett. His bright side shows up with friends, as in the long scenes at Josie’s bar. In the second season there is an extended segment in which Karen Page curses the fact that she missed her chance for a lockout in a pool game. Matt asks her how she can sleep at night. She helps guide him to the throw, then he scores an eight, losing the game. Foggy comes out complaining, so Matt clears the table with one shot. He constantly plays with people’s expectations, jokes to relieve tension from people who are repelled by his condition, and uses his powers for physical comedy.
Aside from the grim stakes of his nightlife, there’s plenty of fun to be had with Nelson and Murdoch, the lawyers. All their clients are decent people who do not have the means to get higher representation, leaving most of their daily work in place of a comedic bureaucracy. He helps people fight legal challenges on behalf of their violent dog and receives money with groceries and pastries. His legal practice has probably undergone changes between appearances, but there are a lot of things to play with when it comes to Matt Murdoch’s comedic potential.
From his superhero antics to his relationships with friends and his bizarre legal practice, there are plenty of ways to use Matt Murdoch in comedy. Fans should not give up on the idea that traditionally dark characters have a lighter side. It just makes them more versatile and allows fans to see a new dimension of their beloved man without fear.