Contemporary society faces an array of socio-economic, political, and environmental issues such as increased crime rate, increased terror threats, corruption among public officials, and even climate change effects. It is the primary responsibility of every government to provide security for its citizens and ensure that everyone adheres to the existing laws to enhance peace and tranquility. Some citizens, however, often take it upon themselves to ensure that justice and tranquility prevail by playing the superhero roles. Media plays a vital role in portraying what happens in society. One of the responsibilities of the press is to foster good governance in the society by exposing rogue public officials who are out to abuse their offices for self-interest purpose (Dutta and Sanjukta 227). Hence, to achieve this, media always use films which invoke themes such as patriotism, honesty, transparency, and determination to safeguard what is ethical and morally right.
In these films, the main characters often play superhero roles, thus showing the need for individuals always to rise up and defend the interest of the weak in society. A superhero is a heroic character with superhuman or supernatural ability committed to fighting the evils of the world, shielding the public from various aspects of danger, and sometimes also fighting supervillains (Indick 2). Most films today portray superheroes as the sole saviors of their communities because of their bravery, honesty, and determination to face the supervillains, the mafia, and the corrupt government officials head-on. An example of such films is the Daredevil, where the main character, take up the challenge to defend the weak by fighting criminals, rogue police officers, and corrupt businesspeople in his neighborhood using a legal framework as well as vigilantism.
The Daredevil is an American television series created by Drew Goddard and Netflix and features Matt Murdock who stars as the Daredevil, the superhero. The film portrays a man who initially suffered a chemical accident during his childhood which left him blind but made him acquire superpowers that later turns him into a superhero (Ellis 168). He then ends up as an attorney by the day working in his law firm and a vigilante by night fighting crime and supervillains in New York City. With the help of his colleagues, he can bring justice to those who are falsely accused or who cannot defend themselves because of the high cost of acquiring the services of a reputable attorney. At night, he takes on the serial killers, corrupt businesspeople, or even rogue public officials. However, the role is not that easy as he often gets beaten or shot during such acts, which at some point deteriorate his health condition.
The first season of the film premiers with incidences of false accusations and cover-ups. This is depicted when some individuals in high positions realize that a junior officer has learned about their illegal activities and is about to sabotage their business by exposing them to the authorities. The film presents the case of Karen page, a secretary working for a construction company, raising a red flag after sensing that the top company officials are engaged in continuous embezzlement of funds. After realizing that this action will jeopardize their illegal operations, the participants in the embezzlement frame Karen Page for murder to eliminate her from the company (Henderson 133). However, the main character, Mutt Murdock, steps in and represents Karen in court, where she gets acquitted of the charges against her. The mafia behind the embezzlement then turns to Mutt Murdock, and plan on how to eliminate him because he is a threat to their operations.
The scene above is an actual illustration of the injustices that happen in society. Many people have ended up in jail for crimes that they did not commit just because they did not want to participate in corruption or criminal activities. Mark Herman is an example of an innocent citizen and loyal servant who had to stay in prison for fifteen years for crimes that he did not commit. His case shows how the prosecution was colluding the with witnesses to confess against Mark Herman and get the latter sentenced for crimes he did not commit. Mark Herman’s appeal was heard after fifteen years, and it revealed that he was innocent. This case is only one of the many instances of framing that occurs in the contemporary world which the Daredevil film reflects.
The film also portrays the rot, corruption, and red-tapism embedded in New York’s police department. After successfully representing Karen in court, Murdock finds himself battling an expanded list of enemies who now include the rogue police officers. The head of these officers even crafts a plot to kill Murdock. The scenario above illustrates how society continues to suffer in the hands of criminals and selfish leaders because of their objective to enrich themselves through corruption and exploitation of the innocent. The film also shows how it is becoming so difficult for police officers to combat and prevent criminal activities because of some rogue elements amongst them who take the opportunity to collude with the same criminals they should be arresting (Christopher 12). The film also portrays the determination of various criminal groups to undertake their illegal operations with much impunity because of the protection from those in authority. This situation explains why it would only take a superhero to save the society from such atrocities.
Season three of the Daredevil film depicts the political influence in the contemporary world and how leaders manipulate citizens by creating fear among the public to enable them to undertake their agendas. The plot shows how Fisk manages his way out of prison and reinstates himself as the kingpin of the city, then uses his influence to control the city’s political and social structures to strengthen his authority. He also gains back his lost control of different institutions by either paying or threatening officers in these institutions to work in his interest. Another essential theme portrayed in this season is the freedom of the press. Media is supposed to be independent and present emerging issues as they are, without fear of intimidation (Starke, Teresa, and Helmut 21). However, in most cases, this is not always the case as most media personalities are continually threatened, bribed, or even killed. While the corrupt leaders and the mafia groups are committed to ensuring that the press is intimidated not to expose the rot in the society, it is the heroic character of Murdock that enables the media to gain some courage to expose these individuals.
It is evident from the above discussion that contemporary society faces many issues that are depicted by superhero films. Analysis of the Daredevil film has illustrated how many atrocities such as crimes, terrorism, abuse of office, false accusation, and hindrance of the freedom of the press, under the government’s watch because of corruption and intimidation. However, the film portrays the essence of a superhero character to lead and fight for the rights of the weak. Hence, a superhero in the contemporary world would be a person who is courageous, selfless, humble, patient, caring, and who is determined to fight crime and bad governance in the society for the sake of enhancing justice and morality, just like demonstrated by Murdock in the television series the Daredevil.
Christopher, Brandon. “Rethinking Comics and Visuality, from the Audio Daredevil to Philipp Meyer’s Life.” Disability Studies Quarterly 38.3 (2018): 12.
Dutta, Nabamita, and Sanjukta Roy. “The interactive impact of press freedom and media reach on corruption.” Economic Modelling 58 (2016): 227-236.
Ellis, Katie. “# Socialconversations: Disability representation and audio description on Marvel’s Daredevil.” Disability and Social Media. Routledge, 2016. 168-182.
Henderson, Stephen E. “Daredevil: Legal (and Moral) Vigilante.” Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 15 (2017): 133.
Indick, William. “Classical heroes in modern movies: Mythological patterns of the superhero.” Journal of Media Psychology 9.3 (2004): 1-9.
Starke, Christopher, Teresa K. Naab, and Helmut Scherer. “Free to expose corruption: The impact of media freedom, internet access and governmental online service delivery on corruption.” International Journal of Communication 10 (2016): 21.