Daredevil is a unique character in comic books because his most memorable and defining moments are not of him saving the world or striking an iconic pose (although he has more than a few of those in his arsenal). No, Matt Murdock is most notably defined by his tragedies and losses - and there's been a lot of tragedy when it comes to Daredevil's love life. If there's one rule of Marvel comics, it's that no one ever stays dead - unless it's Uncle Ben. But if there's another rule, it's never date Matt Murdock. Let's take a look at the two great romances of Daredevil's life that have both deeply impacted and defined the horned vigilante.
Page was the closest thing to Murdock's one true love, however, their romance had highs and lows that were harsh even by comic book standards. Suffice to say, absolutely nothing good happened to anyone by the time their relationship came to a tragic end.
In the comics, Page made her debut in the very first issue of the comic in 1964. She was hired as a secretary for Murdock & Nelson and through most of Page's early appearances in the comics, she served as a classic damsel in distress. She initially showed an interest in both lawyers, however, a romance with Matt eventually blossomed. But their relationship was anything but easy - in fact, it was downright turbulent. Once Daredevil's secret identity was revealed, it set off tragic sequence of events including the end of their relationship and the eventual downfall of Karen's entire life.
The character weaved in and out of the comics from the late '60s onward, and her story only got more dark. The Daredevil comics never shied away from addressing real-world issues and Karen often, arguably for good and bad, served as a mirror that reflected unfortunate current events and the social issues of the day.
After leaving the law firm, she fell into the drug addiction that destroyed her life and resulted in her revealing Murdock's identity. Despite this, throughout the years, she and Murdock rekindled their romantic flames and were subsequently pulled apart numerous times. However, their relationship came to a final end when she was tragically murdered by Daredevil's arch-nemesis, Bullseye.
Deborah Ann Woll's portrayal of Page was one of the highlights of the first season of Daredevil. Her introduction on the show was a spirited adaptation and modernization of her role in the comics. But the similarities are easily apparent with her character joining Murdock & Nelson as an underpaid assistant during the formation of their law firm. She was originally an innocent who became a victim of violent crime and was pulled into a shadowy criminal underworld through that, hardening her, and the effects of that will surely resurface in the future. But while it might come as cold comfort, Karen Page can take solace in the knowledge that she's nowhere close to the only cursed lover of the Man Without Fear.
If Karen Page is Matt Murdock's ultimate match outside of the costume, then Elektra Natchios is the perfect complement for Daredevil in costume. Comic book legend Frank Miller introduced Elektra Natchios in the "Man Without Fear" story line, which chronicled the history between the two doomed lovers. There are few romantic flings in comic history that are as memorable or tragic as the love affair between Elektra and Daredevil.
The character was first introduced by Frank Miller in 1981. In the story, Murdock met Elektra, the daughter of a Greek diplomat, while still in college in New York and they quickly established a bond, so much so that Matt revealed his secret abilities to Elektra well before his Daredevil identity was even established. The two started dating and quickly grew close, but her father was violently assassinated during this time, effectively leading to the end of their relationship.
This violent episode threw Elektra on a path of self-discovery, however, she did not come out of the other side as righteous and noble-hearted as Matt. She was trained in the ways of ninjitsu by the secret clan known as The Hand and by the time Elektra returned to the States, she had become a legendarily lethal assassin.
The next time the two former lovers met was on the battlefield as enemies. In fact, ruthless mob boss Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin, even hired the assassin to kill Murdock's law partner and best friend, Foggy Nelson. This led to a series of team-ups and bloody confrontations which ended in Elektra's violent death, one again at the hands of Bullseye.
If Karen Page represents the steady, long-term relationship that relates to Matt Murdock's lawyer and civil servant side, Elektra is the short-term, lust-filled romance that relates to the costumed vigilante side of his life. As she says to Daredevil, "You fight better than anyone I know," and she knows and has been trained by some of the most lethal fighters in the world. She makes a point to let him know that she sees and appreciates the secret qualities that him so effective as Daredevil and so special. And sometimes...that's hot.
Whether it's Superman and Lois Lane or Barry Allen and Iris West, most iconic heroes have a long-running romantic relationship that defines them. Even Spider-Man lost his first love tragically before finding true happiness and marriage with Mary Jane Watson. Comic books have long held to the notion that behind every great man is an even greater woman.
Daredevil is one of the strongest characters in all of comics, not because he is a superhero with a physical disability, but because of his ability to move forward through his losses and pain. Much like his never-ending war on neighborhood crime is a battle that can't ever be truly won, Daredevil's love life seems to be equally doomed. But despite the fact that his former loves have been doomed assassins, fiends, and criminals, he doesn't give up on love, continuing to hold out hope for a genuine connection and relationship with those he cares about most.
Header image credit: Huy Dinh