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Spider-Man, Daredevil, and The Search for Purpose

My goal is to share my love of Film and Television, in order to explore their importance in storytelling.

my-personal-journey-with-my-favorite-superhero-media
my-personal-journey-with-my-favorite-superhero-media

Introduction

I’ve found myself very strongly relating to Daredevil season 3 and Spider-Man 2, because of the introspective journeys they take each respective protagonists’ on. I find these stories deeply inspirational, and I really want to discuss the importance of these stories. The personal inspiration I feel watching these stories unfold, is nothing short of pure euphoria, as they put the viewer through emotional experiences similar to the heroes journey's themselves. Out of any media featuring these characters, I always find these two stories, are features I revisit time and time again. I come away from each viewing moved in such a positively strong way, that they have become defining iterations of these characters in my eyes. I do also think that anyone reading this will greatly benefit from having seen both the show and the movie, as I'm going to address plot details that are rather specific.

my-personal-journey-with-my-favorite-superhero-media

In Search of Purpose

Spider-Man 2 and Daredevil season 3 are inspiring because of the time they take to dismantle the main characters, and show them slowly searching for their sense of purpose in a world that never ceases to beat them down. Watching Mat Murdock and Peter Parker go through their trials in life and still come out on the other side a better version of themselves isn’t just a great superhero arc, but it’s a true human experience. The excitement in seeing Daredevil come back to scrape and claw his way into a victory after losing a fight with the antagonists of the season, is almost indescribable in a way. Just as the joy in watching Peter Parker find happiness is extraordinarily satisfying, and heartwarming. Both Mat Murdock and Peter Parker’s journeys are great stories of perseverance and growth.

Spider-Man facing off with Doc Ock.

Spider-Man facing off with Doc Ock.

With Great Power

In Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker struggles to bear the weight of his daily responsibilities, as a young man trying to live on his own, a college student, full time employee at several jobs, pining for love he can’t have, and finally being the hero Spider-Man. Trying to take on all of these roles inevitably leads to Peter failing at most of them, as he allows his turmoil to consume him immensely. The movie follows a truly challenging chapter of Peters life, finally admitting to his Aunt May that he was present at and even responsible for Uncle Bens death, leaving her angry with him. Alongside this his consistent tardiness distances him from MJ, and causes Peter to lose his job, facing eviction, on top of his best friend Harry hating Spider-Man, not knowing that its Peter under the mask. It starts to feel to him that nobody cares about Peter Parker, but only Spider-Man in any meaningful way.

my-personal-journey-with-my-favorite-superhero-media

Comes Great Responsibility

When his mentor/father figure Otto Octavius is turned against Spider-Man becoming one of his greatest villains this causes Peter to feel alone and utterly defeated. Peter in time gives up on being Spider-Man and focuses on the rest of his life, when his existential crisis begins to take away his powers. And while for some time it does work out for him, ultimately, it’s not what he’s meant to do. In a great speech that epitomizes the films message, Aunt May tells Peter that telling the truth was a brave choice, and how inspirational Spider-Man was to those he protected and “sometimes in order to do what’s right, you have to remain steady and give up the thing we want the most, even our dreams.” Peter can’t have everything he wants in life, but being honest to himself and sacrificing his dreams of love and a more normal life, in order to keep inspiring others to be their best selves is his responsibility. It won’t be easy and he may never be recognized as Spider-Man, but its his duty as a hero to make the sacrifice. Watching Peter as he overcomes his doubt and fears, earning his powers back, is just invigorating. Peter learns through defeat, when he loses the battle with Doc Ock on the train, just how much he means to the city of New York. The mix of emotions I feel seeing Spider-Man using all of his strength to stop the speeding train, ripping his suit, and denting the train, only to pass out and be saved by the citizens is inspiring, exciting, tense and even fearful. When the citizens save Peter, it shows him that, not only has he had an impact, but he's also brought inspiration to the city through the hope he gives, and the lack of fear he exudes. Overcoming his doubts, saving the city and Octavius from himself, Peter finds true happiness and acceptance in himself. For Peter its the freedom of earning his Aunts forgiveness, and the hope he inspires in the people of New York. Freeing himself of his guilt, and realizing the impact he's had on the city as Spider-Man, Peter Parker becomes the hero he was always meant to be.

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The citizens of New York saving Spider-Man.

The citizens of New York saving Spider-Man.

Die As the Devil

In season 3 of Daredevil, we watch as Matt Murdock has to reclaim his place in the world as The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, after the events of The Defenders left him buried under the rubble of a destroyed building. Pulled from the rubble and brought to Clinton Church, Matt starts the show with major injuries that impose upon his abilities leaving him in a weakened and broken state. Feeling as if God has abandoned him, and he may never get his sense back, Matt gives up. At the behest of the nun taking care of him, Mother Maggie, he allows his body to heal as he slowly regains his powers. At first progress is slow, but Matt’s determination and misplaced anger keeps him going. His ultimate goal, is to kill Wilson Fisk once and for all, and to live in exile as The Devil Of Hell's Kitchen. Forsaking his persona of Matt Murdock.

Matt Murdock mid investigation.

Matt Murdock mid investigation.

Persevering Through Defeat

This path Matt chooses, takes him on a downward spiral where he betrays not only himself, but also his beliefs and the people who care for him as a person. He refuses to reconnect with his friends, but instead uses them to his own gain, as he thinks that keeping them at a distance will somehow protect them. Yet when Kingpin takes over the FBI, and uses Bullseye to frame Daredevil as a cold-blooded killer, Matt begins a journey of self-reflection eventually admitting his wrongs and asking for the help of his friends to properly take down Wilson Fisk. But that’s not to say this is the immediate outcome, Matt struggles with his urge to kill Wilson Fisk until the show’s finale. Killing Fisk would not only be against everything Matt Murdock stands for as a hero, but would directly conflict with his Christian beliefs. Throughout the season Matt suffers loss after loss, from losing fights with Bullseye, to discovering the truth that his mother willingly abandoned him at a young age, while the truth was hidden from him, and a prime witness in his case against Fisk is murdered, Matt Murdock loses all sense of purpose.

Great promo art for the shows release.

Great promo art for the shows release.

Victory At Long Last

The truth about his mother being Mother Maggie is especially earth shaking to Matt, as its also revealed that Father Lantom who Matt trusts more than anyone else, kept the secret from him for all these years. After learning this Matt risks falling into a pit of despair where he believes nobody cares for him and he doesn’t matter. Shortly after, a confrontation between Daredevil and Bullseye breaks out after Bullseye is sent to murder Matt’s friend Karen page at the church. During which Father Lantom sacrifices himself to protect Karen, incurring yet another loss for Matt. Failing to save Ray Nadeem, who reminded Matt of his own father, Matt falls deeper into his anger and fear. For all of his handwork, Matt keeps losing, and this is what Wilson Fisk tries to exploit in order to defeat Daredevil. Instead of giving into the fear Kingpin wants to invoke in Matt, he uses his anger to face down Wilson Fisk once and for all in what i will repeatedly describe, as one of the greatest superhero finale's ever. The rage in Charlie Cox's performance of Daredevil in these scenes is infectious, as I just need to see Matt Murdock finally beat Wilson Fisk and Bullseye. Watching Daredevil overcome the antagonists in one grand scene, is cathartic in the way that it just feels earned. Matt Murdock struggles through 13 episodes to at long last come to a deserving victory. This for me is when Daredevil is at his best narratively, struggling with his own demons, beaten down literally and metaphorically, only to push through and come out a better person in the end.

Self Actualization

In this final confrontation we see one of the greatest finales to a superhero story ever we see Matt Murdock overcome not only Wilson Fisk and Bullseye, but also his own demons. As Daredevil beats Wilson Fisk, he has the chance to murder him and almost takes it. Instead, triumphantly declaring that Wilson Fisk won’t change who he is. this victory is made all the better after seeing Matt suffer defeat after defeat throughout series, especially in season 3.the story focuses on Matt Murdock Facing down his adversary, reconnecting with his friends, and finally reconciling with himself by accepting both sides of himself, and truly becoming The Man Without Fear.

Seeing Your Heroes As Human

It’s important for younger viewers to see heroes in this light, as it can show that the hero’s they look up to are people just like them. One day they may also find themselves on similar journeys of self-discovery. Seeing a superhero like Daredevil or Spider-Man struggle to find balance, stay true to the religion that defines them, or sacrifice their wants, for the needs of others, humanizes them in truly meaningful ways. Nothing is more exciting than seeing Matt Murdock barely able to stand up, yet still somehow managing to beat up an entire hallway full of bad guys. Much like I stated in a previous article, Matt Murdock has a level of perseverance in the face of tremendous odds, that is, almost mythical. Life may overwhelm him and feel unceasingly cruel but in the end his faith and spirit give him the strength to carry on Sometimes the right choice won’t always be the easiest and it may even leave you unfulfilled, but being a hero means putting others ahead of yourself. In Matt Murdock’s case, running from who you are and drowning in your own sorrow will never help you climb out of those feelings. Trusting what’s right, what you believe in, and asking for help can be the most heroic act you can take. Both stories are about the act of overcoming self-doubt and becoming the best version of yourself. Allowing yourself to come to term with who you are as a person and feel truly complete.

Daredevil standing triumphant in an iconic pose.

Daredevil standing triumphant in an iconic pose.

My Definition of A Hero

As I grow older, I relate to these stories on a deeper level, as it's important for me to see my favorite hero’s experiencing similar struggles in life that I encounter. Everyday life can be extraordinarily challenging when you allow your insecurities to wash over you and rule your thoughts, and its no easy task to let those feelings go. I find myself filled with similarly strong feelings of satisfaction and happiness when I overcome challenges in my own life, as I do when I watch my favorite heroes fulfilling their journeys. That is the exact reason I love these specific iterations of these characters as much as I do, they're inspiring in just how human they are, and that for me is what defines a great hero, fragility, relatability, and perseverance.

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