About a month ago, working behind the register of my store, I found myself in conversation with a local kid, I’m guessing, 13. Having been a fat middle school kid in a Spiderman shirt myself once, I sympathize with this fat middle school kid in a Captain America shirt. He comes in every day to buy snacks, and taking a cue from the comics I’m reading, ask me if I saw the trailer for the latest superhero movie. On this particular day, he asked me who my favorite Marvel character was. Before I could even think about it, he clarified “Mine’s Spiderman”. Explaining that Mr. Parker was simply the best that Marvel had to offer, he made certain to assert that “I think Spiderman is the strongest there is, too. Like, stronger than anyone. Except the Hulk. But Hulk’s his friend, anyway, you know?” Then remembering what the conversation was about, he asked me again who my favorite Marvel Comics superhero was. This is not a question I have been asked, I think, since I could drive a car, and to my surprise, it took me a few moments to think of an answer. The answer itself surprised me too.
“Seriously? For real?” He cleverly retorted.
“Yeah, I think I have to say Daredevil.”
“Why?” He asked.
A fair question. From his perspective, he gave me a choice between a dozen or so characters (and he’s an ignorant little punk, ’cause it’s closer to two hundred). A universe of characters who can punch, fly, build, clobber, smash, mind-read, web, magic, slice, invent, burn, kung fu, stretch, hammer, or BAMF their way out of any problem imaginable, and I picked the blind guy. And that’s when it hit me just how adult a choice that is. I offered him a really weak excuse to the tune of “Yeah, I just always liked him. He’s really cool.” Because how do you explain to a thirteen year old kid “Because he should have lost his fucking mind ten times over! Do you understand he lost everything, EVERYTHING! Everyone he ever loved or cared about is dead or insane or abandoned him because to be a part of his life is a death sentence. He’s been deconstructed, brainwashed, possessed, framed, disbarred, crippled, made homeless and driven temporarily insane, and sent to prison over and over and rewarded nothing. And he is still a good, strong, compassionate human being who has the sheer blind audacity to hope and believe in the world and himself! The Hulk can level a mountain but Matt Murdock stood his ground with him and survived because he was his friend and he fucking believed in his better judgement!” That’s not something that’s cool to shout at a kid who can’t shave yet. As a matter of fact, nothing is okay to shout at a kid, especially one who is not your own child.
But the point is, When I was his age I probably would have said Spiderman too. Or Thor, or Cap, I was pretty big fans of theirs. But as I get older and my fears have evolved from things like werewolves, clowns, and sea monsters, to things like failure, fatherhood, and sea monsters, I find I have more love for the poor blind kid from Hell’s Kitchen, who studied hard to become a lawyer and beat wholesale ass so he could serve his community on two contradictory levels, no matter how little he got back for either. And while as a kid, Uncle Ben’s infamous words on power and responsibility seemed admirable and profound, I now find myself more moved by Battlin’ Jack Murdock’s insistence that no matter how hard and how often life hits you, you get up. You always get up. It’s funny how, even as a young adult with dignity and self respect, I still find myself thinking on life through the prism of Comics. Everyone has an escape or two, whether it’s running, or your band, or your second life online as a Worgen warlord, but comics and making movies are my football. Daredevil in particular, deals with spitting in the face of fear, and not just surviving, but finding solutions. Going out into a world that presents an endless stream of obstacles, blind, and finding your way. You never spike the ball, but you get up every day and keep fighting, not because it makes you special or a hero, but because that’s just what you do. So maybe it’s a boring, grown up answer, but that’s why I like ol’ horn-head, neighborhood kid. Because even when the Hulk hits you, you get back up.