'Daredevil' Netflix Season 1: Thoughts + a Daredevil Inspired Exercise in Mindfulness
'Daredevil' centers around the story of Matt Murdock, portayed by Charlie Cox, who is a blind man with a greatly enhanced level of his other senses. A lawyer by day, and super-hero vigilante by night. The Netflix produced Marvel show tells his super-hero origin story in season 1 and pits him against a big-time villain from the comics in Wilson Fisk, also known as The Kingpin, protrayed by Vincent D'onofrio.
This show is not for the faint of heart, as there are several moments of jaw droppingly brutal violence. Without spoiling much I will just say that a couple of them involve a bowling ball and a car door. Once you watch it, you'll be traumatized enough to know what I'm talking about. It's dark, it's gritty, but the show also has heart and humour in it thanks to a great cast of characters that really bring the show to life. Those brutal moments are not done just for the sake of being dark and gritty, but more so to show the state of the city and characters within it, and serve to make the task for Matt Murdock to overcome these antagonists all the more intimidating. When he confronts these villains, your heart pounds in anticipation because you know how dangerous they are and what they are capable of.
This show is unlike anything we have seen from Marvel, though it does definitely have resemblences to DC properties like Batman and Arrow. Much like Batman, Daredevil has to try to save a city that suffers from a criminal syndicate that has created so much corruption at every level. What is interestingly different about Daredevil, is that he does this not just with his vigilante-ism but also with his civilian identity as a lawyer. While Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen mostly use a 'rich playboy' persona to throw people off of suspecting them of being super-heroes, Murdock uses his super-powers to also fight crime through the justice system as a laywer because of his ability to hear heart-beats with his heightened senses. He is basically a human lie-detector. Bruce and Ollie live in a place of luxury with everything money can buy, and Matt lives in an empty apartment with a couch... and a fridge. Nobody suspects the blind guy of being a super-hero, even though said super-hero wears a blind-fold.
His dual identity of lawyer and vigilante creates an interesting dynamic that blends different genres together. When the justice system isn't good enough even as a super-lawyer, he has no problem going out in the night and using his heightened senses to lay the smack down on the bad guys with his flippy super-ninja skills. Speaking of fighting, the action and fight scenes in this show are fast paced and awesome, making a lot of other super-hero fights look turtle paced in comparison.
Much like Arrow, the show also makes regular use of flash backs, and it does so in a way that really fleshes out the characters and gives them more depth. The flashbacks are expertly placed and always feel important and relevant to the story and characters. The child actor who plays young Matt Murdock was awesome in his role and didn't feel like a step-back from adult Matt. They are also used with the main villain Wilson Fisk, and help to humanize his character in a way that is rarely done this well for a villain. D'onofrio's version of the Kingpin is one of the best villains we've seen on a super-hero TV show because of it, and he does a great job of being both someone to sympathize with, and be terrified of. It will be interesting to see if Kingpin or Daredevil are used in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in other movies like Civil War or if they will keep the Netflix series characters strictly on Netflix. It would be pretty awesome to see Kingpin cross paths with Spider-man on the big screen given their comic-book history.
*Side-notes on Meditation and Mindfulness in Daredevil*
For those who don't know me, I facilitate super-hero themed workshops, and I'm always interested in ways to pull inspiration from super-heroes into practical applications of personal growth and health/wellness. Another thing I found interesting from this show was the way the show portayed meditation, or as young Matt calls it: 'the thing where you pretend not to sleep?'. Daredevil comes to learn to use meditation to hone his abilities and speed up his healing process. I don't recommend meditation as a primary healing method for stab wounds but I'm glad to see it portrayed in a positive way on the show.
Speaking of meditation, mindfulness (or basically the art of being in the present moment) has become a force in the field of health and wellness because of the health and productivity benefits that come with it. Sports teams, corporations, and schools are all beginning to hop on board the 'let's learn how to be mindful' train. Some of the benefits include improved focus and memory, reduced stress/anxiety, improved ability to regulate emotions, better sleep, better immune function, and increases in compassion and empathy (greater good ).
While meditation is one way to practice being mindful, you can really do it any time just by being fully present in the moment with what you are doing. With all of the stresses and demands of daily life though, it can often be easier said than done as all of those things we need to figure out can really occupy the mind and make that a difficult task for many people. That's where Daredevil comes into play.
Daredevil Themed Mindfulness Exercise
In Daredevil they do a great job really giving you glimpses of what it's like to s ee (or perhaps feel) the world through his perspective, and it's incredibly cool. It's fascinating to see what he is capable of through relyin
g on his other senses, and it made me curious to try it out myself. So I did. I made eggs with the blind-fold on.
As I reached into the fridge to grab toast, I would need to feel the texture of the different packages to find the right one. Putting it into the toaster, I had to keep an awareness with smell to make sure I didn't turn the dial too far and cause it to burn. The eggs, well they ended up being a bit of a broken mess but they were edible. Many times I wanted to cheat and just pull the blindfold up to look. It's a lot of work to make eggs like that!
As someone who sometimes struggles to get out of my head and live more in the moment, I found that this was a great practice in mindfulness because I found that it essentially forced me to use my senses to make sure I didn't bump into counters, start fires via things burning in the toaster, and find the proper ingredients in the fridge. Through doing this exercise, I also gained empathy for the blind, who don't get the option to cheat and lift up a blind-fold.
For those who want to practice mindfulness but struggle with excessive busy brain, I would like to put out the idea to channel your inner Matt Murdock and do some kind of activity with a blindfold! I suppose you could just close your eyes, but that's less fun. Try it for 5 minutes, or 10 minutes, who knows you may find it an interesting enough challenge to try to build up your senses by doing this regularly. I wouldn't recommend walking downstairs or shuffling through sharp knives as a first exercise for example though. Be smart and safe about what you try without sight! If you're like me, you may find it to actually be a fun experience in mindfulness.
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