Daredevil’s Savior Symbolism in Defenders
By Ron Smith
This week, I finally sat down and watched the first season of Defenders. In the beginning I found myself slightly annoyed with how the characters were presented with exception to the dynamic between Danny Rand (The Iron Fist) and Luke Cage. I found Jessica Jones flat, and Daredevil watered down to a cloying cliché of himself. But I stayed with the show because I wanted to see where the writers wanted to take these characters. I’m glad I did because what transpired as the story developed is a story of redemption interwoven through the characters with the focal point of Matt Murdock/Daredevil as a Christ figure sacrificing himself for the redemption of his team and New York.
There are different moments within Defenders where Matt Murdock/Daredevil displays the behavior of Jesus. When he first meets the rest of the team with Jessica Jones’ scarf over his head and eyes, Luke Cage and Danny Rand wanted him to take off the makeshift mask. Matt Murdock/Daredevil refused because he was protecting his friends. Similar to one of the miracle stories found in The Gospel According to Mark 1:41-42. Jesus told a leper he had cured to not tell anyone of his healing but to go to the priest as prescribed in The Law of Moses. The cured leper instead went out to tell everyone, and Jesus could not openly enter a town (Mark 1:41-42, NRSV). Matt lived a double life bringing justice to people by day as a lawyer, and when that justice was denied he became Daredevil to defend the innocent from the guilty.
The main Christ example I want to focus on, though, is the second to last scene with Daredevil in the season finale. The team had decided to set off bombs in Midland Circle to close the door The Hand opened to destroy New York City. As everyone goes towards the elevator, Daredevil tells them he’s staying behind for Elektra. Only after the bombs went off did Danny Rand realize Daredevil had no intention of leaving the building. As Daredevil faced Elektra he tells her he does not want to fight her, and calls her out on the darkness she has embraced. She’s afraid. She has experienced death and resurrection, and she doesn’t want to face death again alone. The fear, the powerlessness, and anger she feels is similar to what the Dwarfs feel towards Aslan in C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle.
The true Aslan had appeared to redeem them and all of Narnia. The Dwarfs, however, had been duped and enslaved by an ass in a lion skin pretending to be Aslan and they were not going to be fooled again shouting, “We haven’t let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs(The Last Battle, Ch. 13).” Aslan leaves them to the hell they have embraced where there is constant infighting and their food turns to ash in their mouths. But Daredevil will not leave Elektra to her hell. He sees her pain—and behind her pain—and sees the goodness that is still in her. The final moment of the scene they embrace as the building collapses on them. In the last scene of the episode, Matt Murdock wakes up under a cross and a nun telling her sisters he is awake.