Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spider-Man Vs. Daredevil: Who Is The Better Hero?

Okay, the argument goes like this (this is not my argument, this is just a theme I have picked up listening to other arguments).

Daredevil is a bigger hero than Spider-Man because Matt Murdock worked hard to overcome his handicap and become not only a successful crimefighter but a lawyer, while Peter Parker has no disability, received his powers "like a gift," and initially used them to be a selfish jerk.

Also, Peter complains a lot about his lot in life, whereas Matt is more stoic.

What do you think? Do you agree? Even if you agree or disagree, which character do you like better?

(basically, this is sort of a variation on the old "Superman Vs. Batman" thing, self-made powers vs. instantaneous/inborn powers)


  1. This is a really high-minded discussion that I am going to completely undercut right out of the gate by suggesting that maybe they just fight it out and we can instead speculate who would win in a fight - Spider-Man or Daredevil?

    Seriously, I am not sure "heroism" is an objective and measurable standard in this case. All great heroes have moral strengths and weaknesses - often their greatest strength also happens to be their greatest weakness.

    Spider-Man's central question is, "What is my responsibility?" while Daredevil's is, "What is justice?" They're really apples and oranges in terms of heroism - their heroic struggles reflect their individual characteristics.

    Not sure if this helps further the discussion at all or if it just stirs the pot a little more.

  2. What handicap? I said it over on my blog Atop the Fourth Wall and I'll say it here: DAREDEVIL ISN'T REALLY BLIND. Radar sense my ass...

    Also, Spider-Man sold his marriage to the devil. Neither of them are particularly interesting anymore in my eyes.

  3. Well I see it as a trick question.

    Spiderman is more self absorbed when it comes to his personal life, while Daredevil is more self contained on a crime fighting level.

    Spiderman protects New York, but also joined the Avengers and went on a global level, while DD refused because he just wants to protect Hells Kitchen.

    When a global threat arises, Spiderman is there with Captain America or the X-men.

    Is DD's fight less important? Depends on who you ask.

    Daredevil is more of a hero in my book on a small personal level, and he is a lot more MATURE person.

    But Spiderman isn't as close minded.

    So it's really just a toss up, I think they both equal out, really.

    Although CURRENTLY, DD would be my pick since Spidey is a jackass and gave up on his marriage to save an old lady who'll die during ratings sweeps anyway.

  4. This question is difficult to answer when you take into account selling out true love to the devil. See, anyone who would do that...shit. Doctor Doom wouldn't do that. He's still trying to save his mom or whatever. Spider-man sucks, if you listen to current continuity. Daredevil is a dangerously imbalanced psychopath who, as a lawyer, is so deeply unethical that WOAH, but at least he never made a deal with the devil (even with Kevin Smith/Mysterio messing with him).

  5. A good argument could be made for DD not being as heroic because of the way he handled the outing of his secret ID. Granted, he stood to lose a lot if he just fessed up and said, "yes, I, Matt Murdock am Daredevil." But on the other hand, think of all the taxpayers' money wasted because of the case against him, the SHIELD (or were they FBI?) agents that were injured or killed while staking out his residence, and all the other individuals and organizations affected by his refusal to admit it (think of what Foggy and Milla have gone through since his outing). It doesn't cancel out all the good he's done over the years, but it does cast a dark cloud over his priorities. One may even call the guy selfish for all the trouble he caused by simply not facing the music. Wouldn't a true hero take responsibility for his errors, even if it meant he would be disbarred and possibly even imprisoned?

  6. Hot origin-on-origin action, eh?

    Well, if we just go and compare the first months of wearing a costume, Matt has got Pete beat for the reason stated when you framed the fight: Pete put the costume on for greed and Matt put the [hideous] costume on to do good.

    If we compare history v. history? Matt still wipes the floor with Pete in hero terms because every part of Matt's life is about addressing injustice, in court and on the streets.

    It's okay to like Spider-Man better than Daredevil (I do), but Matt Murdock is right up there with Steve Rogers when it comes to overall "heroic purity."

  7. It is a difficult question... on the one hand, Spider-Man is much more accessible to readers as an everyman, infernal divorce nonwithstanding. On the other hand, if "One More Day", "The Clone Saga" and other such stories are good for anything, it's showing us how static the character is - there's a very tangible sense that he can never develop or grow very much before getting snapped back to a teenaged status quo.

    With Daredevil, there's something inherently more mature (and I use that term in the best sense possible) - he can have angsty sex and resort to rather shocking levels of violence and have enormous mental breakdowns and get married without anyone batting an eyelid, much less invoking Satan to set things right. It feels like more can be done with Matt Murdock, perhaps precisely because he's not as A-list as the wall-crawler.

  8. Daredevil if you like urban tortured heroes and Spiderman if you like suburban tortured heroes? I like them both.

    Though I sorta agree with the comment above that Peter Parkers choice with his marriage sort of makes me not like him as much as a character as I once did. He sort of copped out in making the big decision.

  9. I think if you actively go out to beat up on "bad guys", you can't be hero. You're a cop. Cops can be heroic, but most cops aren't heroes by merely showing up for work that might be dangerous.

    If the measure of a hero is what they might lose if they do the right thing, DD wins. He doesn't have an edge of having Spidey powers.

    I don't think Spider-Man is heroic these days.

  10. Yeah Daredevil is blind put his powers make it so that he can basically see anything coming. They should have just made him a guy with really good vision or something. I read the Bendis run and he could read a newspaper. WTF?

    How about instead of fighting each other they do Survivor-esque challenges that all involve saving people to see who is the ultimate hero?

  11. I like Spidey more, but not new dumb ass sell my marriage cause I'm a spineless hack shadow of my true self Spidey.

    But in light of the arguments you presented, I'd have to say DD is more heroic. Emo boy Pete does indeed have it rough, but you rarely hear Matt complain.

    If you really want to see who'd win they should have a swim suit contest and come out in their finest nut huggies!

    Just saying.

  12. wait, can we at least have a discussion on how being trained as a lawyer involves an acceptance of process, & how the process is designed to protect justice? & how matt murdock, by participating IN the system & also working AGAINST the system ("innocent? SCREW that innocent until proven guilty crap. reasonable doubt! PSAH. i will make!") is the TRUE meaning of hypocrite. that is some bad behaviour. worse than most vigilentes, who can at least posit that they think the system is a failure.

  13. I don't think "inborn ability vs. earned ability" really works. For one thing, a fair number of the people with earned ability probably wouldn't've been able to earn their abilities if not for something else - would Batman have been able to go around the world and go to all of those fancy schools if he weren't a trust fund baby?

    We also have examples of both on the side of villainy. Luthor and the Kingpin are self-made men. Are they heroic because of it? Are Darkseid or Apocalypse somehow more villainous because they were born the way they are? And for an especially low blow, Iron Man's a self made man too. A little something called Civil War was entirely his idea. Batman had a couple genius ideas too. There was OMAC, those plans to take out the League those couple of times.

    None of the X-Men earned their powers (though some, like Wolverine, X-23, Archangel, and the Morlocks, paid for them), but they still had to learn how to use them. Did Superman just know from the cradle how to use his powers? I don't know. Do they lives they've saved matter less than the lives saved by someone who just works out a lot? That seems to be the reality you have to accept if you decide that earned powers are more heroic.

    Spider-Man also spent a huge chunk of time profiting off of his super identity even after he stepped out of the ring. The iconic Peter Parker is the one who's always snapping photographs of Spider-Man that no one else can get for the Daily Bugle.

    I don't know if Matt Murdock has something like "the Daredevil defense" where he goes to the bathroom at the same time Daredevil's called to the stand to win all of his cases, but it really seems like Murdock's got Parker beat when it comes to day jobs.

    Up until recently, Spider-Man's always had the consolation of having Mary Jane around through pretty much everything. Matt's had a fair number of his love interests fridged, if anecdotal evidence stands up.

    I'd say Daredevil's going to stand up better to scrutiny because Spider-Man's the more popular character. More people've had their hands on Spider-Man - more chances to make mistakes and do stories that the fickle fanbase won't accept as anything beyond their generally flawed interpretation.

  14. On one hand Daredevil gets way more ladies than Spider-Man does. In my eyes that makes him the far greater hero.

    But on the other hand Daredevil is a big ol sour-puss. I wouldn't really want to go hang out and have a couple beers with him.

    All in all I'd call it a tie.

  15. Another factor in this discussion is how they did against common opponents. In this case, wasn't it Daredevil who "decisively" (as decisive as these things get, anyway) put the Kingpin behind bars most recently?

  16. "Daredevil gets way more ladies than Spider-Man does."

    Well, there's that, but there's also the fact that Matt's love interests have a habit of a) getting killed or b) going insane or c) getting addicted to something or d) becoming a porn star.

    And yet, somehow, I still sympathize with Spidey more. He's always been The Hero Who Could Be You, discounting BND of course.

  17. In terms of "heroism", Daredevil definitely comes out as the better Hero. He's taken more licks and has come back from the edge far more times that Spidey, even before BND ("brand new day" definitely puts Peter behind, but he wasn't ahead pre-OMD, either).

    All this would make a difference in the DCU, where being a Hero, a position where one is objectively measured against the Ultimate Hero Example (Superman), matters. Less so in the Marvel U, where the origin of ALL the characters are inherently flawed (Iron man's a recovering alcoholic, Hank Pym's a wife-beater, Peter let his uncle get shot, Reed's a douche who messed up his best friend Ben's life...and so on).

    so, while Matt wins, a hell of a whole lot of good that'll do him, eh?

  18. Well, the problem with a comparison of these characters is that Spider-man is a super-hero, and Daredevil is a pulp character. Sure Daredevil puts on tights and fights super-villans, but is there any denying that the critically acclaimed Daredevil runs (Miller, Bendis, Brubaker), are all pulp crime/noir stories that just happen have tights and powers. And each respective genre has a different set of rules for each character.

    Spider-man is a super-hero. The world he lives in has clear cut definitions of right and wrong. Spider-man wants to do the right thing, and has larger than life villains that he has to defeat in order to do that. Even when it conflicts with his own desires, Spidey's heroic nature wins out and he does the right thing.

    Daredevil is a pulp hero. The world he lives in is a corrupted mess where concepts of right and wrong either don't exist, or they're stretched and twisted into an unrecognizable Gordian knot. Daredevil wants to do the right thing, but has no real guide as to what the right thing is. And as a damaged and fallible man he often times lets his failings (arrogance and rage usually) get the better of him.

    So it's really kind of an apples and oranges situation.

  19. Spidey made a deal with the devil, giving up the love of his life to let a 135-year-old woman live a few more years of lingering agonizing pain.

    Advantage: Hornhead.

  20. I liked Peter's ethics a lot better before OMD, but making a deal with Mephisto very much compromised him. As it was, I was more wary of Matt because his job ethics seemed more questionable to me - his work as a superhero affected his work as a lawyer, which in turn affected the lives of others, while Peter taking photographs of himself as Spider-Man affected only himself, and more often than not his photographs ended up being used to add weight to JJJ's campaigns against Spider-Man. But it does seem that Marvel wants to continue the moral corruption of Spider-Man in BND. For a discussion of this, check out this interesting post and the thread to which it links:

  21. Ignoring the OMD thing, I can see that Daredevil would probably be the better hero because he worked for his athleticism while Spider-Man stumbled across his.

    That said, Matt Murdock is a much more selfish person than Peter Parker is (OMD aside) so I would say Parker comes across as a better person.

  22. I really wish people would stop saying "OMD aside". No offense but until they retcon that crap again it's canon and very much a part of continuity. You can't just say that Pete's a great guy if you ignore the shitty thing he did last month.

    Doesn't work that way, sorry.

    That's like saying Hitler was a real stand up guy until that whole "Nazi thing" got underway.

    Not saying Peter Benjamin Parker's on par with Hitler but you can't act like OMD doesn't reflect the type of person Peter is or was.

    I mean, c'mon, he joins the Avengers, uproots his family and moves to the Tower, exposing his wife and aunt to all number of dangers. Then he joins Stark in the Civil War and unmasks in front of the whole world.

    THEN he switches sides and runs with Cap's resistance.

    Let's also not forget the fact that his pettiness got Uncle Ben killed to begin with and all those times he hung up the tights.

    Yeah, Matt's a prick every now and then with some really crappy luck with relationships but Spiderman has been (IMHO) a very selfish little boy from the beginning.

    A hero is an individual who does the right thing regardless of the consequences. He or she does what must be done for the greater good, sets an example that inspires hope, and fights the good fight, regardless of their powers or prowess.

    By that definition I can say that neither are picture perfect examples.

    They've both had more than their fair share of fuck ups and triumphs.

    That said, Pete making a deal with the devil trumps any offense DD's laid on the readers.

  23. Umm, Four-Colored Commando, yes one can say that "OMD doesn't reflect the type of person Peter is or was", even if you don't have to agree with that view. In my view the Peter Parker we have now is a very different person from the guy whose adventures I've followed for three decades at least. That guy however continues to appear in Amazing Spider-Girl and Ultimate Spider-Man.

    Also, I would say that his joining the Avengers and moving into the Avengers Tower did not in itself expose his family to more danger than they had already been in before (after all, the event that hastened the move was the destruction of Aunt May's house), while Spider-Man's role in Civil War, the unmasking etc. were all part and parcel of OMD - events that happened solely to provide a motive for the deal with Magneto, no matter how little sense they made or how much out of character they were.

    "Let's also not forget the fact that his pettiness got Uncle Ben killed to begin with and all those times he hung up the tights."

    Well, after Matt got HIS nifty powers, he did not really behave more altruistically or heroically than Peter. Matt only decided to become a superhero after he had finished his studies (some time after the murder of his father) and after he and Foggy had opened their law firm (with Foggy's daddy's money), while Peter became a superhero in high school, and his college education suffered and ultimately foundered because of his costumed activities. Also, Matt's initial decision to become Daredevil was to a large part driven by a desire for revenge, which some would consider a selfish motive.

  24. I can ignore the "One More Day" fiasco because I don't read stupid stories that don't make any sense whatsoever or else have really ridiculous premises.

    To me, Spider-Man is always the Ditko/Romita Spider-Man. The guy running around now- in fact almost the entire Marvel Universe outside of Astonishing X-Men- is someone I don't recognize.

    I think to a certain extent, we have to define which Spider-Man and which Daredevil we're talking about. Remember when Daredevil was a wise-cracking, devil-may-care type of guy?

    He hasn't been that in a long time, since Miller turned him grim and conflicted.

    I love both Daredevil and Spider-Man. I see them as very different people. Daredevil was shaped by his father and all the Hell's Kitchen stuff. Spider-Man is a kid of the suburbs, not as privileged as some.

    What I like about Spider-Man is the psychological nuance of the funny-angry guy. Someone once wrote that about Xander on Buffy, how Joss Whedon got that right. He masks his anger with humor as a defense mechanism. There's a lot of hurt inside.

    Spider-Man is like that. Loss of his parents, growing up with elderly relatives who probably smothered him with love and good intentions so he didn't feel comfortable expressing his anger or dealing with it, constant bullying at school. So when he adopted the Spider-Man persona, he could cut loose and let out all that repressed anger and rage...

    And he did it through humor, like a lot of our great comedians. Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce for example. There's a fine line between being angry and being funny.

    The jokester Daredevil might've been similar. I don't know what's up with him these days. His storylines got way too dark for me and it seemed like all post-Frank Miller writers were just ripping that era off and making things worse, but when they put Gene Colan on art and tried to go back to the old school Daredevil, it didn't really work either.

    I bought it solely because I love Colan's art obsessively.

    Anyway, I don't know. They're both great characters when they're written well. A lot of Marvel's characters are... I just don't care for the company's direction at present and don't feel I should spend money on any of their monthlies. Archive editions and reprints of the glory years, yeah. Gimme some of that!

    For me, "One More Day" never happened. But then again, for me Mary Jane is Peter Parker's girlfriend, not his wife. So I don't know. I hate "One More Day," but I love old school Spider-Man.

    There. I'm done.

  25. who is the better hero? spiderman of course. they both got doused with radiation at a young age with peter getting the powers of spiderman and mat getting blinded and developing a strange radar sense. peter fights crime at a younger age than mat from his teen years, mat becomes an adult and then becomes daredevil.

  26. A few more words to talk about the original question...
    The argument Valerie picked up does not really make sense to me, but then in my heart of hearts I still consider the Lee/Everett origin the definitive one and could have done without Miller's additions and embellishments. Matt Murdock did not have to work much to have to overcome his handicap (his radar sense and enhanced other senses more than compensated for the loss of his vision. DD's powers were as much a gift as Spidey's, and in contrast to Peter Parker, he could use his powers in his chosen career - his enhanced senses allow him to tell if a person is lying under cross-examination. (I wonder if this power also helped Matt e.g. in oral exams in college and law school).

    Another difference between Matt and Peter is that Matt was spared, at least for a long time, the choices Peter had to make while still in high school. Matt's life was to a much greater degree guided by his authoritarian father (who forbade him to use violence) and - thanks to Frank Miller - his trainer and mentor Stick. Peter in contrast was almost completely self-taught, especially as far as his superpowered activities went. And Matt was lucky that the traumatic loss that provided the impetus his decision to become a costumed vigilante only occured in his final year of law school and only went through with it after the law firm of Nelson & Murdock was set up. Peter in contrast became a superhero while still in high school and found his subsequent education and beginnings of a career as a scientist hampered at every step, ultimately deciding to give it up completely in 1983 (during Roger Stern's run, when he decided to leave ESU and focus entirely on photojournalism), when he was probably still younger than Matt had been in DD #1. To put things into perspective, had Peter done what Matt did, he would have concentrated on his studies and not begun his activities as Spider-Man until at least 20 years later readers' time. So Peter has much more cause to complain about the way his powers have impacted his life.

    Also, I don't think it really is a variation of the "Superman vs. Batman" thing, DD and Spidey are actually very similar with reference to their powers and abilities. Both received their powers through an accident and both also use the high intelligence they were born with (at least up until ca. 2006), although of course Peter Parker's talents are more in the scientific field than Matt's, so it is not surprising that he came up with more stuff useful for crime-fighting (web-formula, web-shooters and Spider-tracers vs. the Billy Club).

  27. Okay, I'm not going to debate who is the bigger hero or who can beat whom (huge Daredevil fan but Spidey is clearly more powerful physically). But please, for the love of all that is holy, stop with the "Daredevil isn't really blind/disabled" stuff. Let me say this respectfully, you don't know what you're talking about. And yes, this is a huge pet peeve of mine, I admit. Whenever people say these things, it tells me the following:

    1) They don't know what does and doesn't constitute a disability.

    2) They fail to realize that not being totally blind (yes, Matt's radar sense obviously makes him less than totally blind) does not automatically constitute full vision. If you are 100% colorblind (which he is) that would constitute a fairly serious visual impairment. Color is a huge source of visual information.

    3) They are unaware that most people with even serious visual impairments can read print and don't use a white cane. This does not make them fully sighted.


    4) If you can't read a street sign from three feet away, you have a problem seeing things.

    5) Matt does not have a mobility problem, he has an "access to information" disability that is actually fairly substantial and would affect him a great deal in a work or school setting.

    And finally... In his role as a superhero, his de facto disability is not a handicap. His senses work to his advantage in this situation, but this is not true of all situations. It's all really very simple. On the other hand, since many writers of the comic has failed to realize this very basic fact, I can understand why people don't fully get this. Matt's disability is much less extensive than it appears to be, because of his powers, but it is also more serious than most writers realize because they've spent less than two minutes actually thinking about it. Still love the book with all my heart, and I don't hold any of this against the character. ;)

  28. I think it's sort of a moot point because I find that they both just sort of fit a different mood for me. It's not like Superman versus Batman. The two of them are so different... I have barely read superman books my whole life. I just don't really care about him, except in theory and the odd guest appearance that really works (like in Checkmate).
    Daredevil is there when I want the stoic and the grit.
    Spidey when I want the fun.

    If you mean... who achieved more: Matt.

    If you mean... who has done more: Peter.

    Peter has more ability, though, and he's also sought a broader portfolio. Matt tends to keep it at the street level. In part because he has to, in part because that's where his heart is.

  29. First off, I'd like to say that I am a Spidey fan. I grew up with the wallcrawler, and no matter what writers do to him, I'll still by ASM any chance I get. I didn't mind when they took Peter's powers and made Ben Riley the new Spiderman. And I don't care if I'm the only one who feels that way, I think they should have shown some backbone and kept Ben as the webslinger. Retire Parker. Let him raise some kids and be normal.

    That being said, you have to consider all of the atributes of each character. Daredevils a streetlevel crimefighter whose a soldier in a streetwar. He can't always see past Hell's Kitchen, but he's always a champion for justice, in and out of costume.

    Pete's career started as a teen always getting crap from jocks who needed an ego boost. He initially approached the situation with his powers as a regular teenager. He tries to do right, but he keeps seeing himself getting screwed over.

    Daredevil's more heroic, but he's also more mature. And as long as young Peter Parker trying to deal with his responsibilities sells, Daredevil will always be more of a hero.