Netflix is debuting a superhero series today: “Marvel’s Daredevil”. The first season is streaming for subscribers starting April 10, and like the Ben Affleck movie in 1993, it references the comic book superhero’s Catholic side.
The first scenes give a taste of what is to come. First we meet Matt Murdock as a child, in the accident that left him blind. Next we meet the grown up Murdock, a lawyer, in a dark confessional.
His confession will not be recognizable to most Catholics. He seems to be chatting almost aimlessly with the priest, who doesn’t seem too concerned about getting him to come to the point.
Eventually he says: “I’m seeking forgivness for what I’m about to do.”
And the priest helpfully answers, “That’s not how this works.”
The rest of the episodes (I scanned them quickly) seem to follow a similar pattern.
The movie is a series is like a made-for-TV version of the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight movies. Murdock is a serious young lawyer with a comic lawyer side-kick and a master villain to oppose. The titular character, in progressively improving costumes, fights crimes in picturesque New York locales, in between having almost-romantic encounters with women and flashbacks about his childhood (he was in an orphanage run by nuns, though his mother’s whereabouts are mysterious) and his martial-arts training. Every other episode or so, he stops in to chat with the priest.
Some clues will tip the viewer off that the writers and directors probably aren’t Catholic.
? When Murdock meets the priest outside the church, the sign doesn’t announce the time for “Mass” but for “Holy Eucharist.”
? The priest sees Murdock in church and says “Morning Service” not Mass, “was hours ago.”
? Then there is the priest’s strange explanation of his beliefs about the devil, which are kind of Catholic … kind of not.
Charlie Cox, the British actor who plays the Daredevil with a good American accent, told Variety that he likes the Catholic elements in the story.
“It’s one of my favorite things. It’s another aspect of the Daredevil comics that makes him unique. It’s like a goldmine for an actor that you get to play with this Catholic guilt. As an actor I get to go out and beat the crap out of people and have all the fun that that entails from an acting point of view, and then I get to go home and sit quietly with myself and be tortured by what I’m doing, and question everything, and have all the doubt and the loneliness and the shame around it all. So I thought that the Catholicism just offers a wonderful conflict to play with.”
That seems to sum up what the Church is in the movie: A place to say angsty things to a serious older man.
But that’s fine by me.
It is refreshing to see the Church taken seriously as a positive actor in a world, a voice of justice and conscience in a crime-ridden city and a light in a blind man’s darkness.