Daredevil S2: Episodes 1-3 Theology Review

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I’m going to do my best to review the first 3 episodes of the second season of Daredevil on Netflix without major spoilers but I may use minor ones. The difference is simple:

MINOR – Froggy ate a cheese sandwich. Neither the sandwich nor the fact that he was eating are important.

MAJOR – Daredevil traded in the two horns for one and is now called “Blind Justice Unicorn”.

Consider that my warning that minor things will be discussed and major things will be left out. Moving on…

I never cared about Daredevil as a kid. Maybe I was too “churched” and couldn’t even bring myself to read a comic with “devil” in it. Regardless, I realize I missed out on one of the most spiritually charged properties in the Marvel Universe, a detail they have not shied away from in the Netfilx series.

In season 1, we saw a man wrestling with faith and justice and how to carry the two out in a complementary fashion. Perhaps one of the highlight scenes from season 1 would be a scene between Matt Murdock (Daredevil) and a priest that serves as a mentor where the priest helps Matt sort through the issue spiritually and intellectually.

Season 2 picks up and wastes little time introducing anti-hero Punisher. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, the Punisher was my favorite comic character as an angsty teen. I loved that he wanted to eliminate crime and protect people in the process. It wasn’t just that though, he was violent. As a typical male teen, I loved that.

Throughout the first three episodes we see the fallout of the Kingpin’s downfall. Criminals jockeying for position and power. My only minor complaint about the first three episodes happens in the first one. When we are introduced to the Punisher we see him a little reckless, apparently uncaring of innocent life but I believe that was a cinematic choice to leave the uninformed in the dark as to whether or not he was a bad guy. They just want you to see him as a beast and he proves that in spades.

Each of the first three episodes builds on the theme discussed in season 1 as it pertains to justice. What is it? What do the criminals deserve?

In what I would consider one of the greatest moments (so far) Matt and Frank (the Punisher) have a discussion about the concept of justice. I don’t even want to quote a line out of context because I don’t want to cheapen the moment for you when you do get to see it.

Needless to say, the two don’t see eye to unseeing eye on the issue of what “bad guys” deserve.

This got me thinking about justice from a particular angle:

The Scriptures teach a lot on the topic of justice often saying things like “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6.8, emphasis mine)

When we discuss justice we often use “getting what you deserve” as the measure, but if we’re honest, “what we deserve” is a moving target. We may overvalue something we’ve done or overreact to what has been done to us. We may expect too much or demand too much.

However, the Scriptures say quite a bit about what we deserve.

“There is none righteous, not even one” and “All have turned aside…There is none who does God, there is not even one.” (Romans 3.10&12)

Also, according to the Scriptures that non-goodness would require us to pay a penalty…death. While that may seem steep, death is often the penalty for treason which is what sin (non-goodness) is. It’s open rebellion against God’s rule when all he wants for us is to give us life (that’s a grand oversimplification, but will have to do for now.)

Granted, we may not all rebel like the thugs in Daredevil, but we have all placed our goals and dreams and values ahead of God’s and that has led us to hurt others and ourselves. That is all sin.

We’re all rebels (and not always the good kind) and if we all got what we deserved, we’d all be on the business end of a good old fashioned smiting.

The Punisher would be proud.

Thankfully, God doesn’t work that way.

Through Jesus, we’ve been given a clean slate. He stepped in and took that punishment for us so we’d never have to. He became our (big theological word here) PROPITIATION.

The word propitiation carries the basic idea of appeasement, or satisfaction, specifically towards God.

In other words – that death that we deserve (even if we think we don’t deserve it) has been satisfied through Jesus. All we have to do is receive it and live in it.

It’s a beautiful thing.

It’s this alternative to death that Daredevil advocates. The chance for redemption. The chance for a second chance. The chance for those who are seen as villains to be seen as fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers who are worth another shot because while they have rebelled they are still in the image of their creator and their life has value.

Jesus would be proud.

As we watch season 2 I have wrestled with, and hopefully continue to do so, with the idea of justice and second chances.

I love this quote from Gandalf in Lord of the Rings:

“Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.”

This seems an appropriate discussion considering Easter is just over a week away.

Thank you, Jesus for giving me mercy and grace even when it is undeserved.

Thank you, Daredevil for bringing this message back to mind in a gloriously, man-pleasingly violent way.

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