Daredevil: Shadowland – Why The Avengers DIDN’T Intervene
Matthew Murdock is the Man Without Fear. He is the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. He is Daredevil.
But when a real demon, under the control of the nefarious necromancer ninja organization called The Hand, possesses Daredevil, Daredevil truly reaches his full, devastating potential.
But even with ultimate power, does it matter at all if his power corrupts him? And what do the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe actually do when not even a being with godlike power can defeat him? How do you fight against a corrupt power when it’s taken over a friend and a hero that you love?
Let’s dive into the Shadowland saga to discover what Daredevil does with his newfound abilities, and why the Avengers didn’t intervene.
Daredevil: Shadowland begins with Daredevil’s current mentor, Master Izo, convincing Daredevil that he can do the most good for this world by leading the mystical criminal ninja organization called The Hand. In Master Izo’s eyes, only Daredevil can bring them back to the light. In Izo’s eyes, only Matt Murdock is incorruptible.
And yet as the leader of The Hand, we see Daredevil take over Hell’s Kitchen — from its politics to its criminal underground. He builds a fortress for The Hand, and rules with an iron fist (no, not that one). This becomes the new landscape referred to as Shadowland. In time, Matt Murdock even removes the cops from Shadowland, to make his followers take over all of law enforcement. He even has holding cells to toss in any criminal — and he’s the one deciding what counts as crime or not.
Naturally, Murdock’s friends from Hell’s Kitchen, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, see the changes in Daredevil. They never expected him to align with The Hand, but Daredevil, with his clever lawyerly speech, explains to them that the situation is temporary. He explains that he has to appeal to The Hand, so he can change it from within, just like his mentor explained. Daredevil wants to save Hell’s Kitchen. He wants to stop all crime and make the world a better place.
And so for a while, Luke Cage and Iron Fist trust him… but only as far as they can throw him. It’s not long before they leave to the Avengers Tower, seeking help.
Bullseye escapes prison for the last time. He slows to his heart to a crawl to feign cardiac arrest and tricks the prison guards into using defibrillators on him. In an instant, he turns the shock around, kills the guards, and escapes to go back home to Hell’s Kitchen. Because what is Bullseye without Daredevil? Well. Bored, at least.
And when Bullseye comes back, Daredevil has no more patience for his villainy. Bullseye had no idea what Daredevil was capable of by now. Daredevil kills Bullseye exactly the same way that Bullseye killed Elektra.
That’s the straw on the camel’s back that pushes Luke Cage and Iron Fist to go the Avengers. Now of course, Luke Cage and Iron Fist are on the Avengers roster, but even they admit that they’re outranked by Iron Man and Thor. So they go seeking help.
And yet, the Avengers don’t come to the rescue.
The heroes insist that if Matt Murdock is truly their friend, then they can get through to him. They can use their friendship and emotional connection to him to help him see that he’s gone too far. But then — has he? Bullseye is a serious serial killer with a criminal record that would fill up a library. Did Daredevil simply adopt the mentality of The Punisher? Perhaps, but maybe that wasn’t the problem.
Maybe Daredevil went too far because he allowed himself to become the Judge, Jury, and Executioner — as well as the prison system, police force, and absolute ruler. So Murdock has clearly been corrupted. But that won’t stop Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Daredevil’s other friends and adversaries from fighting against him.
It’s particularly interesting that the Avengers don’t intervene. But is it, in fact, their responsibility at all? The government doesn’t get involved either. In fact, the current mayor of New York City at this time is actually Spider-Man’s J. Jonah Jameson. And how does he respond? He simply asks, “Where are the Avengers now?”
So the local government doesn’t intervene with the clearly corrupt and all-too-powerful Daredevil, effectively shirking the responsibility to other heroes. And the Avengers, powerful as they may be, decide not to intervene with this street-level threat.
Perhaps there is a wisdom here. Perhaps these heroes recognize that they’re disconnected from the reality of the situation. They don’t know the streets of Shadowland like Luke Cage and Iron Fist. They don’t have the same relationship with Daredevil.
They don’t know what Hell’s Kitchen needs, and so they don’t go to Hell’s Kitchen before, during, or after the tragic events. They decide to trust the heroes to execute their own plan. They support them in their plan! But they do not claim to know what’s best. They trust the heroes of Hell’s Kitchen and the New York streets to save the day.
Strength Through Unity
Yes, the Avengers trusted the heroes. But they never expected Wilson Fisk to get involved. But perhaps the enemy of you enemy is a necessary ally. And so, using the power of The Hand against them, Wilson Fisk uses a summoning scroll to acquire a demon from hell to do his bidding. And who does the scroll summon? Ghost Rider.
So Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Misty Knight, and Colleen Wing storm the castle to reason with Daredevil. Moon Knight infiltrates the Shadowland fortress as well, and breaks out of his cell to defeat The Hand ninjas. Even Spider-Man arrives to reason with Daredevil.
But when Daredevil hears that Ghost Rider is there, he believes it to be a trap, and fights them all. With the help of his ninjas and right-hand fighters, he takes down the whole team. They’re cornered and near death, but The Punisher shows up at the last moment and gives them an escape route.
They regroup in their hideout, and make a plan. At that moment, Master Izo, Daredevil’s mentor, arrives. He explains that none of this is actually Matt’s fault. He has been possessed by the Beast, a demon that The Hand used to corrupt him. The Beast makes him crave more power, mistrust his friends, and act violently.
The Beast makes him blind to his own faults and failures. It only shows him one thing: how to gain more power. Master Izo (and also Wolverine) join the group, and they get ready to fight him. This time? They can’t hold back. This time, they have to reach Matt Murdock and defeat the Beast to free Hell’s Kitchen.
Victory through Empathy
The heroes march forward. Wolverine has defeated greater foes before, or so he thinks. Wolverine tears through through ninjas to get to Daredevil and plunges his adamantium claws deep into Daredevil’s chest. And yet, Daredevil lives. In fact, this only gives the Beast more power. His horns grow, and his powers flourish. Wolverine is easily tossed aside. Spider-Man uses his webs to try and hold him still while his friends reason with him — but the Beast takes over and tosses them aside. There’s no more Matt Murdock.
Finally, Ghost Rider gets his chance. He comes in hot and fast, burning bright with the light of vengeance. And when Ghost Rider uses his penance stare, Daredevil is unfazed. In fact, he screams back, and breathes the hellfire out of Ghost Rider. The Beast is even more powerful than the holy judgement of Ghost Rider — and that might be the greatest indication of its power.
And yet, it is not power that overwhelms Daredevil or the Beast. It is empathy. It is friendship. It is the kind plea from his oldest friend, Foggy Nelson. Foggy begs Matt to stop the Beast. And in a moment of temporary weakness within Daredevil, Iron Fist uses his chi manipulation powers to heal Matt just long enough to give him clarity.
Then Elektra, his true love, speaks to him. She supports him and helps him through the overwhelming weight of the Beast. In his mental space, Daredevil plunges a sword through his chest, nullifying the grip of the Beast upon him. He is finally free, and the shadow over Hell’s Kitchen is lifted.
Daredevil had good intentions to save Hell’s Kitchen and stop all crime, but that wasn’t enough. He gave into the fear and anger and hatred, and gave the Beast inside him more power through it. And even though The Avengers could have stopped him, they didn’t have the tools to do so. They were disconnected from the root of the problem.
Daredevil had to overcome his fear. Daredevil fed the Beast by thinking that power would solve the issue. It only showed him a darker path. The Avengers supported the solution by trusting the people who truly knew the root of Daredevil’s fears. The Avengers supported the heroes who were actually equipped to save the day. And it was a true victory through empathy.
Be sure to collect the extremely limited-edition Daredevil: Shadowland Sixth Scale Figure to celebrate this complex and intricate story, as well as his incredible costume change that came with this new dark persona.