Vincent D'Onofrio in Daredevil (2015)

The Exploration of Corruption in Netflix’s Daredevil Is on the Nose for Now

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I’ve recently begun a rewatch of the Marvel Netflix shows, and watching Daredevil right now has proven to be extremely interesting—because while the show began before the Trump era, it may as well be commenting on it. The more I watch people bend to the will of Wilson Fisk, the more I see parallels to our current world and the corruption that bleeds into almost every aspect of it.

Released back in April of 2015, Daredevil was the first of the Netflix Marvel run to captivate audiences. While I did watch it the first time around, I decided to rewatch the entire Marvel series (because what else am I doing right now), and I started from the beginning with Daredevil (mainly because I wanted to have an excuse to watch the hallway fight scene that is all one-shot).

What I came to realize is that that first season of Daredevil (and maybe even more of the show as I continue on) is an adept commentary on our current world and how easily and seamlessly the corrupt seize power—and how this can bleed into the public eye and warp what we think is “helping.” When we look at bad guy Wilson Fisk, the insidious way in which corruption spreads and infects everything around it is shown time and time again throughout the first season.

Wilson Fisk dedicated his life to being something his father Bill was not. Beaten and abused as a child, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Fisk is an imposing figure whose often calm demeanor does more to unnerve than ease. The fear that came from looking up at the broad shoulders of Fisk ran deep into the citizens of New York (specifically Hell’s Kitchen) and he continued to gain power and had people willing to do whatever he asked.

Seeing how easily people will rally behind someone who seems to be in charge, and who rules through fear, brings me back to this moment where we’re experiencing the same thing in real-time. The power that men have (especially white men) has constantly been in focus in media because it’s a reflection of how society has functioned for so long. In the real world, watching as corrupt villains have control of the White House and how they push their warped views onto the American people feels analogous with what Wilson Fisk did to the people of Hell’s Kitchen. It’s unsettling to say the least. He lied, he convinced them that he was someone they could trust, and he did it all so he could continue to thrive and control. He’s smarter than Trump, but that’s hardly a reassuring thought.

It’s weird and disheartening to watch Daredevil right now and see the same themes still playing out, making them more poignant than ever. The corrupt continue to find success and traction. Many viewers can recognize these rotten creatures in our pop culture, but cannot seem to see those same behaviors in action with real-life political figures and corrupt institutions. It always feels like the larger-than-life villains have immediate parallels in our world, yet it’s much harder to find the superheroes who will stop them.

(image: David Lee/Netflix)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.