Daredevil has been around for a long time, and like many superheroes with such longevity, he has amassed a great many foes and taken part in hundreds of battles.
Regardless of his decades of experience, it’s never easy being on the receiving end of evil. Besides all the blunt force trauma involved, the impaired relationships, and having to be constantly on alert for an attack, one’s personal life can also be cruelly impacted. For Daredevil, there are a handful of supervillains who went above and beyond in absolutely destroying his life, be it as the costumed crusader, or in his personal and professional life as Matt Murdock.
Meet some of DD’s biggest personal jerks, who stopped at nothing to crush all that is good in his world. Some will be familiar, but be prepared for more than one surprise player in Daredevil’s many downfall dramas.
Here are 15 Supervillains Who Absolutely DESTROYED Daredevil.
15 THE OWL
Established as one of Daredevil’s chief nemeses early on in the comic’s publication history (his first appearance is in issue #3 back in 1964), The Owl is a crime boss, a genius mastermind, and a ruthless foe.
Over the years, he clashed with ol' horn-head repeatedly, thwarted from schemes as bold as robbing the US treasury in San Francisco to looting New York City during a blackout. After years of such humiliations, The Owl gets some serious revenge by taunting the now-exposed Matt Murdock after his best pal gets murdered (which it turns out, he didn’t).
This happened in the middle of an even bigger plan to drive Murdock insane, and The Owl played his part perfectly, helping push DD over the edge.
This classic Spider-Man villain came back in the 1990s for an iconic Daredevil story, penned by none other than film director and uber-geek Kevin Smith, to really mess up our horn-headed hero’s life.
The storyline starts off weirdly when DD is presented with a child to protect who may be humanity’s savior or its doom. Secretly drugging the blind slugger, Mysterio manipulates events meant to drive Daredevil insane. Among the worst, he convinces DD’s dear friend (and ex) Karen Page that she is terminally ill with AIDS, has her killed by the master assassin Bullseye, and frames partner Foggy Nelson for murder.
Not only that, but for a while, Matt Murdock was convinced he was being subjected to the torments of Hell (the real one, not a figure of speech!). That was the drug’s effects of course, and as usual, DD wins in the end. But not before getting his life seriously trashed!
Let’s all take a moment to say that, as supervillains go, Melvin Potter really is a hard luck case. Yes, he initially sets out to live a life of crime, but he ends up being not too bright and more than a little insane.
After several defeats at Daredevil’s hands, The Gladiator becomes DD’s biggest fan and pledges to be a hero. This leads to take the reformed bad guy under his wing. Matt Murdock really does try to give this sap a second chance – but be it due to madness or a lack of character, Melvin keeps screwing up, leaving DD to repeatedly fight him, defeat him, bail him out, help him, and repeat, ad nauseum.
We all have that one person in our lives who are pretty much a psychic leech, but we just can’t quit them. That’s who Gladiator is to Daredevil, and it isn’t making his life any easier.
12 THE PURPLE MAN
Another early entry in Daredevil’s rogue’s gallery (fist appearing in issue #4, directly following The Owl), The Purple Man has the power of mind control, and boy does he use it. Fans of the Netflix series Jessica Jones who know him better as Kilgrave will get what we mean.
His ability to get people to follow his commands is put to terrible and degrading use to feed not only his criminal enterprise, but his own fragile ego as well. One long story arc has the Purple Man chasing DD down, going so far as to controlling other supervillains to go after him.
Fighting and losing to Daredevil over and over again, the Purple Man finally figures out Daredevil’s secret identity as Matt Murdock – just as our hero realizes that this violet villain has been messing with him for some time.
11 BLACK WIDOW
Yes, yes, we all know that Black Widow is a superhero, nobody is trying to pull a fast one. But the fact of the matter is that Natasha Romanoff did indeed begin her career as a highly-trained agent for the Soviet Union, America’s greatest adversary.
In the early days of the 1961 Marvel Comics superhero boom, the Widow acted as a double agent, ensnaring the Avengers’ archer Hawkeye (who himself has a criminal past). Eventually, of course, she does come around to the side of the angels.
At one point, she becomes Daredevil’s lover, so much so that the title of the comic became Daredevil and Black Widow for issues 92-107. Yep, they were partners in crimefighting and under the covers! But eventually, she leaves him, breaking his heart.
Did it mess up his life? Hey, when do breakups not mess up somebody’s life? Natasha goes on to lead a new superhero team, The Champions, and starts dating the god Hercules, upgrading from mere mortals like Matt. Can you blame her?
10 MR. FEAR
There’s been more than one Daredevil foe taking on the mantle of Mr. Fear, a supervillain who uses a drug to make people’s worst nightmares come to life in their minds, seeming terrifyingly real. One of those was Larry Cranston, an old school chum of Matt Murdock’s.
Having previously gone mad fighting DD (and seemingly dying), Cranston finds out the blind battler’s secret identity and goes off on a particularly cruel revenge scheme. Not only does he raise an army of bad guys to try and take Daredevil out, but Mr. Fear doses Matt’s wife so bad that she freaks out and kills an innocent man. Think about how something like that would play out in couple’s counselling!
The trauma for a civilian caught in the middle of such a deadly game can be fierce. And witnessing the pain it causes DD’s loved one causes him no end of sorrow.
If you know anything about Matt Murdock, you know that he has a deep connection to his beloved New York City neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen. And in the famous Born Again saga, that’s exactly what the supervillain Nuke goes after.
A deeply disturbed super-soldier with a history of mental illness and abuse, it’s hard to say the man also known as Frank Simpson is to blame for the violence he causes. Turned into a cyborg and constantly force-fed super-amphetamine drugs until he gains a dependence, Nuke’s always been used as pawn by everybody from the military to The Kingpin.
Still, DD “seeing” his special corner of the city partially leveled is akin to coming home to see a huge part of your house smashed to bits.
Before Black Widow, before Karen Page, before Daredevil even became a superhero, there was his one true love, his college crush and veritable soulmate, Elektra Natchios. The murder of her father ruined her mind and drove her away from her boyfriend and future crimefighter, Matt Murdock. Bad enough to love and lose, right?
When Elektra comes back into DD’s life again, it’s as a professional hit-woman, pitting the two against each other on opposite sides of the law. And yet that old itch never went away, the relationship got complicated and Elektra died (more on that later).
Daredevil tried to resurrect her and failed, only to have his colleague Stone finish the job. Back among the living, one can only imagine how DD’s feelings must have swung from one place to another. Eventually, Elektra goes from villainy to heroism, but by then, the damage has been done. More than once.
7 THE HAND
The Hand is a league of ninja assassins originating in a demonic death cult ruled by an entity called The Beast. In between running crime syndicates to finance their greater goal of world destruction, these awful, awful people relentlessly hunt Daredevil down in packs. They have played crucial rolls in hurting people he loves – including Elektra, Black Widow and Stick – but perhaps worst of all, they eventually make him their leader!
In his arrogance, Daredevil thinks he can use the group as a force for good, which works for a while. But eventually, The Beast possesses Daredevil, making him the leader of a once-again super-evil group, almost killing half of New York’s street heroes in the process.
6 ALEXANDER BONT
Before there was Wilson Fisk, Alexander Bont was New York City’s first Kingpin of Crime. A retconned villain whose place in Daredevil’s past was only apparent in stories popping up in the 2000s, Bont was given the role of one of the single most tragic events of Daredevil’s life: ordering the murder of Matt Murdock’s father. As a rookie crimefighter, DD put Bont behind bars, completely ignorant of that fact.
Years later, Bont discovers that Daredevil is really Murdock and plans his revenge. Not only does he almost kill DD, he beats him to a bloody pulp in the same alley that his dad was gunned down – and he let him know it.
Possibly dying in the same place where your old man bought it has got to really twist your brain. Of course, DD doesn’t die- Bont’s heart gives out on him and he dies on the same bit of dirty pavement as Matt’s dad.
5 TURK BARRETT
Aww, why bust on poor Turk? After all, this lifetime lackey to crime bosses has some of the most outrageously bad luck we’ve ever seen in comics. Always trying to get ahead, and always failing, Daredevil almost always beats Turk’s small-time crook schemes back easily.
But as a tiny cog in a huge machine, Turk Barrett has played unwitting roles in Matt Murdock’s life. From being manipulated by folks like the Kingpin in his grandiose schemes to take Daredevil down, to actually being a mule in mob payoffs to Matt Murdock’s father for taking boxing falls (an arrangement which leads to his murder), Barrett is tangentially related to some of the worst moments of Daredevil’s life.
This makes him a sort of blundering supervillain almost by default. But then, fate casts us in roles we sometimes don’t even know we play.
4 VANESSA FISK
It’s not easy being married to the mob. As the Kingpin’s wife, Vanessa Fisk has seen more trials and tribulations in her day than many would see in a hundred lifetimes.
At one point, hurt and confused from trauma and loss, Vanessa orchestrates a plot to drive Daredevil crazy and goes from being a passive player to full-blown supervillain. Among other things, she fakes DD’s best friend Foggy’s death, leads him on a wild goose chase through Europe, and even hires Iron Fist to pose as a fake Daredevil in Hell’s Kitchen!
Suffice it to say, her plan mostly does the trick. Poor Matt Murdock is driven to the edge of sanity. Of course, he bounces back like all good superheroes do, but Vanessa probably cost him some more than enough just in psychologist bills!
3 MATT MURDOCK
Before there are any cries of cop-outs, never forget the old adage: you are your own worst enemy. This is true of everyone. But when the going gets tough, Matt Murdock has a severe anger management problem!
Pressures build up time and again for Daredevil and, more often than a lot of the other heroes we read about, this guy takes it out on his closest friends. Whether it’s turning his back on his former girlfriend Karen Page, or almost coming to blows with best bud Foggy Nelson, Murdock seems to make his already tough life needlessly more difficult.
Self-isolating at times, hesitant to ask for help, Matt’s pride in his own sense of rugged individualism has fed his ego, leaving him alone and hurting far too often. That hole keeps getting deeper and Murdock’s holding the shovel. Memo to Matt: boys can cry. It’s OK, man, let it go!
Starting out as a Spider-Man villain, the portly crime lord known as Wilson Fisk came gunning for Daredevil in a series of storylines engineered by the pioneering work of artist/writer Frank Miller.
Apart from toying with the lives of many important people in DD’s life, the Kingpin eventually finds out our hero’s secret identity. Instead of just having him killed, the master schemer Fisk arranges to literally dismantle everything in Matt Murdock’s life, up to and including having him framed for murder. Matt beats the rap, but loses everything, including his apartment, which the Kingpin had blown up. And that’s just one time.
Even after DD beats our rotund villain, he keeps plotting and just making Matt miserable.
For those don’t know, Bullseye is a psychotic assassin-for-hire so deadly; he can literally kill you with a playing card or paper clip. And as his name implies, he never misses.
Over the years, this maniacal marksman extraordinaire has harassed Daredevil, from kidnapping the Black Widow when DD was dating her, to calling him out on live TV for a showdown. But the one thing that probably wrecked Matt Murdock’s life more than anything was when Bullseye killed the love of his life, Elektra.
Bleeding to death from being stabbed through the chest, Elektra makes her way to Matt’s doorstep, where she expires in his arms. Yes, okay, it’s comics and she does eventually come back. But what could be worse than having your soulmate die gored in the gullet right on you lap? Hopefully none of us will ever know!
Are there any other villains who destroyed Daredevil? Share in the comments!