The Defenders has arrived on Netflix, bringing Matt Murdock, Danny Rand, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage together as a fearless foursome. Each of the central characters comes from his or her own unique background; Jessica is used to the tough, hard-hitting streets of Hell’s Kitchen. She is world-weary, bitter, and yet always intrigued by a new PI case, and though she wouldn’t admit it, she actually likes helping others. Danny, meanwhile, has privilege and money on his side. He is still green, and immature, and it shows. He has a great power, but his surliness and child-like tendencies mean he has a hard time learning how to harness that power. Out of all of the Defenders, he is the one who’s still learning on the job. Luke Cage is tough, but with a heart of gold and a strong moral compass. He is the calming, mellow influence on the team, and his strong and silent ways command respect.
Then there’s Matt Murdock. As Daredevil, Matt has been fighting long and hard, but when The Defenders opens, he’s still in retirement after the events of Daredevil season 2. Fans will recall his emotional turmoil over his love for Elektra. He knew she was bad through and through, but was still irresistibly drawn, despite Stick’s advice that he should just cut all emotional ties and move on. Her death had a profound effect on him. This, coupled with his relative estrangement from his friends Foggy and Karen, meant that Matt Murdock was left feeling more weary and tired of life than ever.
As The Defenders opens, we learn that Matt still cuts a solitary figure. He’s immersing himself in his work as a lawyer, but he’s still small scale while Foggy is moving up the ranks within Jeri Hogarth’s firm. Karen is working as a reporter, and clearly there’s still affection between her and Matt, but he holds back. Importantly, he is no longer the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. This enforced retirement is both a good thing and a bad. Of course, no longer being Daredevil means he’s safe, but there’s no denying that without his superhero alter-ego, Matt is lacking in direction. Being Daredevil fulfilled a purpose in him, in the same way that being a crime-fighting vigilante has with Luke, Jessica and, to some extent, Danny, but Matt lives in a different world to the others.
His lack of sight means he’s fully reliant on his (albeit supersonic) hearing to figure out how other people view him, and though Matt is undoubtedly very good at this, it’s still something that others might not consider when addressing him. Certainly on first meeting, the rest of the Defenders aren’t necessarily overly warm, but each of them can recognize that Matt’s abilities are an asset. He’s already an ‘established’ superhero, in contrast to the rest of them. He’s been there, done that, got the outfit. Matt knows about The Hand, is familiar with their workings, and he can anticipate how they, and Elektra, will act. The fact that none of them really like each other very much is irrelevant. They are all smart enough to figure out that they can work as a team, and that’s exactly what they manage to do- eventually. Matt is also the most reluctant to join The Defenders, and is the last one to do so. Given his history, that is understandable.
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