ByJake Kraemer, writer at
Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, HIMYM
Jake Kraemer

Note: Daredevil Season 2 spoilers ahead

One of the central themes in Daredevil is the law and, more specifically, whether or not it should be used to achieve justice. Matt Murdock has a unique perspective about the law, as he approaches it in two ways: he uses it as a lawyer and he bypasses it as a vigilante. He often struggles with justifying his vigilantism and feels that it must be done in a specific way, such as no killing. However, this brings up a good point. If the law fails so much that a vigilante is needed to bring criminals to justice, then does the law work? There is plenty of evidence to support the notion that in Hell's Kitchen the law does not work. "Law" is a broad term that encompasses many elements, including the efficacy of law enforcement, the justice system, and the correctional system.

The analysis starts in the first scene of season two. Interestingly, the very first words uttered by Matt Murdock in the season are, "Call 911". It says a lot that the writers of a superhero series would choose for the first words of the season spoken by the titular superhero to be to call the police. This would seem to suggest that Matt Murdock does believe in the law. However, the bank robbers in the scene in question would probably not even been stopped if Daredevil had not intervened. The bank robbers were moving quicker than the cops and one had managed to disarm the only officer on the scene. They would have presumably gotten away and there would have been more criminals on the streets if the law were the only line of defense against crime.

The Punisher, a more dangerous threat than unnamed bank robbers, was also only brought to justice because of Daredevil. After weeks of attempts, the entire police force made little progress on the Punisher case besides assigning him a nickname. The police department not only was unable to capture the Punisher, but also withheld information about a serial killer on the streets from the public, probably in order to avoid political trouble. The Punisher was only apprehended when Daredevil got involved. Daredevil handed him over to police, so he could get a trial, but he was only brought to trial because Daredevil intervened.

While this trial should have been a fair way to determine whether or not the Punisher was guilty, it was not because some of the players in the case had ulterior motives. Honestly, the only unbiased person in the case was the Punisher, simply because he did not care about his fate. The defense tried to win, even if it meant presenting evidence that was not relevant. District Attorney Reyes tried to win and demonize the Punisher in order to advance her own political career. Each witness tried to present information in a way that would better his/her interests. While the goal of holding a trial was to determine guilt, it quickly took on different roles for different people.

The Punisher at his trial
The Punisher at his trial

Even if the law succeeds in convicting a guilty criminal, it is not always effective at punishing him/her. Wilson Fisk was the main criminal of Daredevil Season 1, and it took a lot of effort from both Daredevil and the prosecutors to put him away. The audience is not given details on his convictions or sentences, but he presumably was sentenced for a long time considering the nature of his crimes. Despite the harsh sentencing, it took little time for him to corrupt the prison. He easily bought power in the prison by bribing the guards to do his bidding. He was able to continue his operations, order hits for other prisoners, and even schedule the release of dangerous killers-all during his sentence!

Wilson Fisk talking to the Punisher
Wilson Fisk talking to the Punisher

Finally, the most imminent threat facing Hell's Kitchen, the Hand, was untouched by the law. The danger of bank robberies and even a crime boss seems small in comparison to that of the Hand. The Hand threatens to use a Black Sky, supposedly the most dangerous weapon ever, to bring chaos. Also, it has access to revolutionary resurrection technology. Yet, the rest of the world-including the law- does not know of the existence of either or even of the Hand itself. There were no attempts by law enforcement or the judicial system to seek justice against the Hand or to stop it from leveling the city of New York. This is because of the simple fact that the law cannot stop what it does not know exists. Obviously, the law cannot know about every criminal, but it is concerning that it does not know about the existence of what is possibly the most dangerous organization in the whole world.


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