I don’t usually do this, but I figured it was time to write about something that was bugging me a bit.
I just finished the first season of Daredevil. Loved it. HOWEVER, there’s some odd stereotypical notes in the season, that I think the writers could work harder to move past. Some quick examples: Nobu the scowling inscrutable Japanese businessman/ninja, Mrs. Gao the inscrutable ‘dragon lady’ Chinese woman (though her character gets more interesting as we go along), pretty much all of the the Chinese opium workers, the “crazy” Russian mob brothers (though they’re a little more well developed), Mrs. Cardenas the suffering noble abuelita, Melvin the (autistic? mentally retarded? Not sure?) savant. And of course most of the nonwhite characters disappear from the show by the end of the season, for various reasons (I being deliberately vague here to avoid spoilers). So the all-white heroes square off against the all-white villains, for the soul of a supposedly diverse city. White man’s burden much?
When I point up these things to my more comic-literate friends (I read superhero comics growing up but but haven’t in a while), they usually retreat into “well it’s true to the comics” or “well if you knew this character from the comics…” Folks, this is NOT a valid response. The storyline they’re talking about is from the ’80s by Frank Miller (not the most progressive guy in the comics world), and regardless, (a) the series is being watched by a lot of people who’ve never read the comic, (b) it’s supposed to stand on its own as a work of art. We need to move past that line of thought to more objectively evaluate comic adaptations (that goes for “GOT” as well). Also, I’m not saying that any of this is “conscious” but that it’s indicative of largely unconscious attitudes.
Anyway, I still like the show and am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. And the writing is very, very good, so I know the writers can do better. It’s one of the first superhero works I’ve seen that actually spends as much time with its heroes as its villains. And when it spends time with its supporting characters – Vanessa the art dealer, Marci the “cutthroat” lawyer, Urich the reporter – it really shines.