By K W Warburton, The Reluctant Spoonie
In 2015, I developed an incurable illness and was pulled kicking and screaming into the world of disability overnight. I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed a role model to help me navigate this new world and accept my new disability. Enter Daredevil, a blind vigilante superhero with a proper job as a lawyer and a best friend.
Read my thoughts on Girl, Interrupted here
I first discovered Marvel’s Daredevil through the Netflix show and subsequently bought all the comics. Similarly, I had been thrust into the world of disability overnight, without the aid of radioactive waste, of course.
Good representation of disability in mainstream TV shows, films and books are few and far between. Unfortunately, they usually follow the ‘pity the disabled person’ narrative which is outdated and harmful to disabled people.
Daredevil is a blind vigilante superhero whose powers include enhanced senses such as echolocation. He uses to his advantage by plunging his enemies into darkness before taking them out. He was trained in martial arts by his mentor, Stick from a young age after acquiring his powers.
Jobs and friendships as a disabled person
Daredevil’s alter ego, Matt Murdock, Daredevil has a normal job as a lawyer and a degree-level education. Two things that all disabled people know are hard to come by. We see Matt using braille in the show and comics, a very basic accommodation that allows him to study and do his job, but in reality, must have been very difficult to organise.
“He is not happy, but he is busy and that’s close enough.”Daredevil: The Man Without Fear #4
There is a darkness to the show and the comics, especially with the origin story. Those of us who developed our disability suddenly after living a non-disabled life with be familiar with the anguish that young Matt feels after his run-in with radioactive waste. Additionally, people treat him differently now that he is blind even though he is quite able to do things himself.
Read my thoughts on Me Before You here
There is also some comedy which comes in the form of Foggy Nelson, Matt’s friend from law school (a superhero with a best friend, that’s not going to end badly at all…). This is shown frequently in the TV show and comics. It is rare to see a disabled character with a friend who isn’t also their carer.
Accepting my disability
Disability acceptance takes time and there is little support available for young people who acquire a disability later in life. Reading the Daredevil comics taught me that having a disability is not something to be pitied or feared.
I know what I am … who I am … and I’m not afraid!Daredevil: Reborn Vol 11
Why we need to cast more disabled actors
The Netflix adaptation of the Daredevil comics is one of my favourite shows and brought the character to a wider audience. However, I’m sure that there is a talented actor with a visual impairment out there who could have taken on the role of Daredevil. For a true representation, not only do we need to see more disabled characters out there, but we also need them to be played by actors with the same disability.