As a self proclaimed nerd, I really enjoy superheroes. It's great for me right now because I get TV shows, movies, merchandise. Do I own a Loki dress? Yeah I do. Do I own Captain America work out gear? Not yet, but it's my next impulse buy (Curse you, heruniverse). So obviously, I'm going to watch Daredevil Season 2. Unfortunately, my Dad and I agreed to watch it together, so it's been a painfully slow processes until last night where we binged half the season.
For those of you who don't watch the show, Matt was involved in a chemical spill as a young boy. While technically blind, the chemicals gave him superpowers. He's a vigilante protector of New York who wears a red suit. The media nicknamed him the devil of hell's kitchen until they realized he was good. Then it became daredevil.
I struggle a lot with Matt's motivation. He seems so focused and pulls those really stupid moments of "I didn't do everything and so I'm a horrible person and it's all my fault that anything goes wrong." The brooding gets old fast. We get it. You're a superhero. You brood. Can we move on now? I was getting really annoyed. I even considered turning off the TV at the end of the episode. Then there was this scene with Matt's old mentor that commented on Matt's belief in God. And that's when it hit me. Matt Murdoch was raised Catholic. Matt isn't just brooding, he's suffering from Catholic guilt.
You're probably like, what? That's not real. I grew up Catholic, so I can tell you from experience, it's real. And it's powerful. Catholics are taught that you can sin from what you do, a sin of commission. BUT you can also sin by not doing something, a sin of omission. So if you hit someone, it's a sin. If you see someone falls and you don't help them up, that's a sin, too. Basically, there's a lot of opportunity to sin. And Matt grew up hearing that. He has shown strong belief that killing is wrong. By by Catholic teaching, if he isn't doing everything he can to save someone, that's a sin, too. Obviously, no one can stop every tiny thing from going wrong. So Matt can't do everything, and then feels guilt. I don't have super powers, but I've cried because I can't solve the world's problems. Now imagine if you DO have super powers? There are a lot of things you COULD do to help the world. I'm pretty sure that's lead to some extreme Catholic guilt.
So you may say this is a coincidence. However, the character of Matt Murdoch has always been Catholic. From the original comics to the show, it's a part of who he is. Why would the writers specifically choose Catholicism? There are plenty of Christian backgrounds, and Catholic is certainly not the most popular one in media. By picking Catholic, you bring in all the weight of the tradition and teachings, plus there are a lot of connected stereotypes. Catholic guilt is the obvious answer. What better motivation for a young man with superpowers in New York than Catholic guilt? That creates enough drama on its own. Plus, the brooding wouldn't be forced. And you can't have a superhero without brooking.
So while the average brooding of a superhero gets old, you can always take comfort in Daredevil's brooding actually being Catholic guilt.