The Man Without Fear is considered one of the most heroic, beloved and complicated vigilantes of all time. Matt Murdock may wow juries and judges during the day as he fights for justice with the law on his side, but as soon as he dons his red costume and becomes Daredevil, the law no longer applies to him as he fights crime in Hell’s Kitchen. It is this paradox of the character that make him such a compelling one to both read and watch. It is also the reason why sometimes all fans can do is shake their head, mumbling “WTF?!” at his strange and often masochistic choices.
From betraying the people that he loves the most to simply living a life of double standards, Daredevil may have either been a total jerk or just done some really stupid things dozens of times, but here are the 15 Most WTF Things Daredevil Has Ever Done.
15. Refusing To See Foggy In The Hospital
Foggy Nelson has stood by Matt Murdock’s side through hell and back. As many times as Murdock has let him down, stood him up, abandoned him to take care of something else (whether warranted or not) and broken promises to his best friend, you would think that when his buddy needs him the most he would come running. Instead, Murdock pettily refused to see his friend even after his friend nurse Claire Temple implored that he do so.
As guilt-stricken as Murdock normally is, he felt as if he would punish himself if he refused to be both Daredevil and Matt Murdock in that moment. He explicitly told Temple that he could not just visit Foggy after his best friend was shot and still protect the hospital from The Hand. Given that he was probably right, and that he did, in fact, protect the hospital, this is a moment that fans could let slide if it didn’t further wedge Foggy away from Matt.
14. Getting Elektra Knifed
Elektra Natchios is one of the most gifted fighters in Marvel comics. Granted, her gift comes with the curse of her vile temper and absolute love of destroying people after she became a vengeful mercenary following the death of her parents, and she has a history of mental illness that might hinder her on a bad day, but getting knifed in the stomach is not something that would happen to Daredevil’s skillful old flame on a typical basis. Elektra is pretty good at taking care of herself. If Daredevil were to distract her during a fight, however, it sure becomes a possibility, and that is exactly what he did.
During the episode “Guilty as Sin” in season two of the Daredevil MCU, Daredevil sees that she is about to kill one of the Yakuza ninjas during their big fight and yells to distract her, earning her a knife in the gut in the process. Although Stick was able to help bring her back to health, she would not have nearly died in the first place had Matt not gifted her with a “What’s that over there!” moment.
13. Being A Crap Boyfriend
One of the most common lines that Matt Murdock feeds the supposed love of his life, Karen Page, is that he will always protect her. He gives her this vow both before and after she knows his identity and in most instances he fails miserably at keeping his promise. Page is constantly in danger, and at one point in Daredevil Frank Castle even does a better job of protecting the young secretary than the vigilante in red.
Page is in so much trouble that at one point she must even face off against James Wesley, Wilson Fisk’s right-hand man, all by herself. As intimidating as Wesley is, Page manages to land the upper hand and actually save herself this time. In true Daredevil fashion, Page is left to deal with the aftermath with feelings of guilt and distress, refusing to tell Murdock about the experience. Even though Murdock has since shared his secret identity with her, she has still refused to tell him about what happened. Perhaps she just doesn’t want to bruise his ego by revealing that he once again was unable to protect her.
12. Mike Murdock
Daredevil’s entire existence is modeled after his father, the lovable if misguided fighter Battlin’ Jack Murdock. As problematic as having a fighter as a father was on Murdock’s growth and development, Jack Murdock had lots of good in his heart that Matt was able to absorb in his brief time with his father as well. The same just cannot be said about his twin brother, Mike Murdock.
Most fans simply wish that Mike never existed in the first place because he was, in fact, Matt himself. In a completely implausible twist of events to try to explain away his alter ego, claiming that it is his twin who lives the double life. Not only was this story just bizarre, but it also made Matt into a jerk. Free from his own scruples, Murdock became confident, even aggressive, and enjoyed openly flirting with Karen without caring he was deceiving her as well as taunting Foggy about his weight. Although the “act” was mainly to fool people into distancing him from Daredevil, readers could not deny how happy Murdock was while he played the idiot Mike Murdock. The MCU writers gave a nod to this dubious plot line by having Murdock refer to himself as “Mike” when he meets Claire Temple.
11. Getting Possessed By The Hand
Taking over The Hand may have seemed like a great idea at the time, but Daredevil is notorious for making wrong decisions for the right reasons, much like his father. Although it may have started out as a good decision, Daredevil was not expecting to become possessed by the Beast of the Hand, becoming an actual demon. Not only was this incredibly ironic given his costume and very moniker, but it also made him embrace the very evil that he hates. He even sucked the actual hell fire from Ghostrider’s face, giving him the personality of an actual devil for once.
Even though readers know this entire story line was done to give the character a new spin, many still consider it to be a pretty embarrassing moment in Daredevil history. Once Iron Fist literally knocked the devil out of Daredevil, he was able to return from the depths of Hell.
10. Ruining Claire Temple’s Life
Claire Temple did not ask to have Daredevil drop in on her life, requiring medical attention for no compensation and giving her no answers in return, but Daredevil turned to the nurse (the doctor, in the comic) for help time after time, quickly ruining her life in the process. Temple aids him in everything from torture devices to medical assistance at no cost to Murdock but great cost to herself. One of the moments in Murdock’s life that should cause him the most guilt, but does not seem to, is Temple’s kidnapping and extremely violent beating because of her involvement with him.
In the MC,U Claire happens to fall for Murdock but is not willing to pursue it because–let’s be honest–he is crap boyfriend material. It is a sound decision for Temple, too, considering that Daredevil continues to bring trouble to her hospital, eventually getting her fired in the process.
9. Stiffing Foggy During The Punisher’s Trial
Matt Murdock may have seemed gung ho to represent The Punisher after he took out half the criminals in Hell’s Kitchen, effectively doing Daredevil’s job for him (albeit much more permanently). But when it came down to the actual work of the trial, Murdock stiffed Foggy once again, and this time it was to help Elektra deal with her drama.
Not only does Murdock, who claims to love and uphold the law to the fullest extent of his (daytime) capabilities, flake out during trial prep, but when the actual trial of the year goes down, he is nowhere to be found. While Foggy quickly overcomes his utter disappointment in his best friend and nails the opening arguments himself, the damage is done, and Foggy does what best friends do best. He puts Murdock in his place, saying, “Stop acting like these things just happen to you. No one’s making you go out and fight bad guys at all hours of the night, and nobody is making you lie to your friends over and over again. Elektra is not the problem, Matt. You are.” Ouch.
8. Just Being “Done”
Daredevil may be known for vacillating between one position and another, routinely reverting to old decisions only to change his mind again at the last minute and to constantly exist in a self-inflicted purgatory of moral ambivalence, but when he dramatically calls it quits it’s quite like a teenager orchestrating an emotional breakup. Murdoch is constantly saying he’s done with both his friends as well as the law, and perhaps he should be, seeing as how everyone he knows ends up hurt or dead as a consequence of being in his life.
At one point in the comic Daredevil #5, Murdock even fakes Foggy’s death in order to stay friends with him, proving that his level of drama is unmatched in the Marvel world. Foggy then has to live in San Francisco, where he ironically must continue to fight for his life–this time, against the deadly enemy known as cancer.
7. The Entire 2003 Movie
Most fans of Daredevil watched the 2003 Daredevil and slapped their hands over their faces, crying out, “Dear god, why?” after seeing the film. Between dozens of character inconsistencies, muddy writing and the lamest Bullseye ever, the movie reeks with failure, earning only a 5.3/10 at IMDB and a 44% at Rotten Tomatoes. Meta Critic took it even lower with a 42% approval rating. The lack of real villain development, the merging of Elektra and Echo’s stories and Murdoch just being a terrible lawyer all ruined the film.
The movie was not a complete commercial flop, more than doubling its budget in returns at the box office by earning $179.2 million. Its writers worked hard to attempt to integrate most of the popular plot points in the comic and maintain complete truth to the writing–which was, of course, one of its biggest downfalls. There is no way to get decades of Daredevil into one feature and have it go over well.
6. Falling For Castle’s Mind Tricks
When Daredevil fell for Frank Castle’s gun trick courtesy of writer Garth Ennis, fans were not particularly surprised, given the Ennis trademark style to poke fun at superheroes and put them up against their worst nightmares. Castle demanded that Daredevil shoot him or a mobster, forcing DD to really take a look at his moral compass and decide the lesser of two evils. When Daredevil prepares to shoot Castle, he says, “God help me” before he pulls the trigger. Of course, Castle had already pulled the pin to prevent his own death, revealing that he had the power the entire time.
The careful consideration of Castle’s demands was much more dramatic and satisfying in the MCU television show, where Castle mocks Daredevil’s costume and says, “You’re a half measure. You’re a man that can’t finish the job. I think you’re a coward.” Daredevil uses the gun to free himself and go after Castle only to see him shoot the mobster, Grotto, in the stomach.
5. Dabbling In Misogyny
Over the years, the writers of Daredevil have had on-again, off-again issues with women, many of them spilling over into Matt Murdock’s own psyche. Even Black Widow insinuated that Daredevil is a bit of a misogynist. Although there are plenty of moments to choose from, one of the most infamous is the “Daredevil Booty Slap,” in which Daredevil not only orders Black Widow to change into something sexier to be his arm candy, but he slaps her butt in the process like a piece of meat. She literally calls him a male chauvinist before saying, “Ow!” because he did, in fact, hurt her in the process.
There is also a bit of a creep factor when it comes to DD’s relationships. Many fans thought it was pretty messed up when, after leaving Black Cat following an intimate moment with the sultry cat burglar, Daredevil actually stops to sniff his fingers. Some readers insist that he is making a kissing gesture, but that is not like the vigilante at all. If Daredevil is going around smelling his fingers–in a lovingly fashion, no less–after every tryst, that is just gross.
4. Murdock Snarkfest
Like many brooding heroes, Matt Murdock has a running schtick that includes being snarky to people he loves. On a good day, he might be a kind friend who cares about the feelings of the people he loves, but when he is angry, frustrated or pushing people away, he really lets them have it. Sometimes it’s pouty and petulant, like when he says that some people don’t deserve a happy ending in his trademark guilt-ridden, self-flagellating way. He can also be quite cruel. When Foggy once told him, “You’re not the boss of me,” Daredevil responded snidely, “That’s only because my name isn’t Sara Lee,” referring to Foggy’s weight.
Given that everyone makes jerk comments to their loved ones every now and then because they feel safest with those people, it is easy to let Murdock slide on this one, especially when his friends and family forgive him, too.
3. Judging and Losing Karen
While fans of the MCU Daredevil are enjoying the fledgling romantic relationship between the Man Without Fear and his leading lady, those who’ve read the comics already know the completely and utterly messed up stuff that goes on between the two. Their conflict began when Murdock revealed his secret identity to Page, who struggled to deal with it until, in Daredevil #86, she opted to leave him in order to pursue a film career.
Beyond the emotional baggage, break-ups and drama, Murdock actually judges Karen quite harshly after she turns to prostitution (of all things) and ultimately loses her. Of course, she also sells his identity out to the Kingpin, which was pretty messed up of her, too. Had Murdock not pushed her away and accepted her for who she was, she might have had a much longer life. Between coming down with AIDS, wanting to help Murdoch, and feeling her own mountain of guilt, Page makes the ultimate sacrifice and dies at the hands of Bullseye.
2. Choking Black Widow
Daredevil and Black Widow have a complicated history: when Daredevil decided that a baby that might be the epitome of pure evil should be put to death, Black Widow had no trouble at all putting the superhero in his place. Unfortunately for Natasha, Matt was not a decent listener that night. He lashed out at his former flame, choking her and injuring her as he attempted to take back the babe to destroy.
In Matt’s defense, he was technically drugged at the time, as Doctor Strange helped him understand later in the comic. Even so, with his hyper-aware senses, readers have to wonder at how Murdock failed to detect this intrusion on his free will–not to mention to what degree he was still able to control himself during the altercation. Was he in control of any of that attack at all, or was it completely out of his control?
1. Being A Walking, Talking Hypocrite
Being a huge hypocrite is basically Matt Murdock’s schtick. Social justice warrior by day and Hell’s Kitchen vigilante by night, his constant ambivalence for the law and for brutal justice is what keeps this Catholic feeling guity at all times. Murdock has been known to cry, “Vengeance is not justice!” and insist that “Vigilante days are done in this town!” only to land people in the hospital based on the exact opposite principles later in the same day.
And let’s be honest: as much as Daredevil loves to claim to be on the righteous side of justice because he refuses to kill, he still maims, dislocates, breaks his opponents’ bodies, leaving them at the edge of death. Anyone who has suffered from a serious accident even remotely similar to a throwing, beating or other serving of Daredevil’s brand of justice knows how a serious injury can alter a life forever. Matt himself knows this, following his own accident. Between months of rehabilitation, possible permanent disabilities and plenty of other complications, any villain that a vigilante has beaten up is going to suffer long-term consequences not too far off from a painful death.