I love that in the show, they kept the comics thing of how much Matt buttons himself up around others. Comics Matt has relaxed a lot over the years and accepted that he is occasionally allowed to have fun outside the DD suit, but show Matt is newer to this.
For instance, while I guess it could be overdone, I really like the difference in how Cox portrays Matt tracking movement and sound - The Headtilt™ - when he’s in the suit vs out of it. He’s much, much more obvious about it when he’s in the mask. And I suppose it’s partly because he rarely has to focus his senses quite as much in his civilian persona, but it’s also significant that the few times he needs to listen closely and track someone as Matt Murdock, he makes excuses to be alone or disappear into a crowd or wear hoodies or scramble up to rooftops, so he won’t have to focus on keeping up appearances. He’s much less restrained about it when he’s in the suit, and it’s a much more visible process to others - but he’ll also pull it back in when he’s intimidating or reassuring people. I kind of hate the fact he has to keep such an important part of himself tucked away, but it’s also very in-character. And it’s just a nice little piece of attention to detail in the performance. I like how consistent it is.
And then there’s Matt’s shades being another mask motif, which I grew up reading in the comics and will always feel like, “yup, that’s my guy” characterisation to me. Sure, he likes them and knows he carries them off well (red lenses are a statement, and he’s clearly chosen to stick with them, which makes me happy), but the shades are mainly something Matt does to be around other people. As with a lot of real-world visually-impaired and NLP people, he probably got fed up of people being weird about a lack of eye contact, and whenever there’s a scene where he’s at his most relaxed or emotionally honest, he’s usually out of them. They’re a very solid, “Right, back to business” boundary for him. (In Mark Waid’s run in the comics, the only time I can think of when Matt went round without them in public, it was because he’d consciously decided to tell the world he was Daredevil, and was trying to make a point of being open and telling his villains, “Come at me.” And it did end up being too much stress, after a while. It was another persona he was putting on, something very out-there for him.)
There’s one sort of sweet-but-sad, to my mind, scene where Matt’s running over case precedent with Foggy and they’re knackered and about to order takeout, and pretty much the minute Karen, who’s a new hire they like but don’t know well yet, comes in, Matt’s sliding the glasses back on and changing his body language. It’s just such a blatant example of “friends for ten years” easy intimacy vs. “not quite there yet,” and Deborah Ann Woll’s acting is lovely; you can tell Karen picks up on it and her brightness dulls a bit, but she’s just glad to have friends at all. Heck, before that, there’s the scene where she meets them the first time and Matt tells her to come back to his if she’s afraid of sleeping at her apartment, he can take the couch and he’ll look after her. And it’s blatant. She asks him if he’s always been blind, and in order to try and get her to level with them and make a connection, he lets her see his eyes and talks about his trauma - and then, “Now, can I ask you a question?” right back on.
He even dials down his humour and his anger - always, always his anger - round others, and plays mild-mannered. He may be dry, professional and thoughtful, but he isn’t mild. As mentioned, it’s interesting seeing how he is around Karen at the start of s1 vs at the end. And the guy who sort of raises an eyebrow but says nothing when a detective threatens to “beat the shit out of him”, or gently deflects with jokes about Foggy playing baseball when asked about the Devil, is not the same guy who attacks punching bags like they’ve hurt him personally and crosses a room in five flips instead of ten steps for the fun of it. Except he kind of really is. That dichotomy is part of why I’m so fond of him.
But while this can be useful, it has its costs. Aside from the casual ableism and dismissal he has to put up with on the regular, it also affects people closer to him. There’s basically everything with Karen in s2, but even earlier than that… When Matt beats down Fisk and talks about loving Hell’s Kitchen and what it deserves, he mentions “my family.” And sure, you can argue he means the people of the Kitchen, and/or Jack, those interpretations are both legit - but an episode or two before, Karen was hugging him and telling him, “You’re not alone. You’ve never been alone” and he and Foggy were agreeing to move forward. You’ve been shown him with his immediate family. (Heck, even Karen uses the words “my family” about Nelson & Murdock.) And he does that in the suit, so it’s a beautiful moment - but it also means that Karen and Foggy don’t see just how much he returns the sentiment. I’m going to assume they know, though. He does express it as himself, in those moments where he gets out of his own way and he’s truly stopped pretending he’s someone else. And as this is Matt, those moments are rare gems.
Yes, this, all of this. It’s one of the reasons why I can rewatch the show ad nauseum without getting board: Cox’s performance is so detailed. And, as OP rightly mentioned, other characters pick up on it, especially if they’re perceptive. Like Karen, who clearly appreciates the significance when Matt chooses to wear (or chooses not to wear) his glasses around her.This is also one thing I love about seeing Matt interact with characters like Claire and Maggie. He can interact with them as solidly himself: they don’t know him primarily as Daredevil, nor primarily as Matt-the-normal-lawyer-guy, but as just Matt. And so I imagine that the way Cox portrays Matt’s mannerisms when interacting with them is how he sees Matt to truly be. And sure enough, Matt in these moments is a mix of his Daredevil and his lawyer persona, with the added bit of something more. He can be cocky and intense and moves with a casual confidence like Daredevil, but he can also be fun and flirty and vulnerable like normal/lawyer!Matt, and he also can just…have real, honest conversations with people. At least, as honest as Matt can get. And I love it. (x)
literally never not going insane over Matt's season three character arc it's about the struggle and the healing and the finally coming to terms with the balance of who he is and the reality that he can't do it alone no matter how hard he tries and the newfound solid comfort in the fact that his friends refuse to give up on him and the having to stare into the eyes of somebody who took who he is and twisted it into a cruel reflection and he has to decide if he's willing to take that new image and destroy who he was but end things or refuse to let that new image change him and it's about finally knowing who he is not because of some grand coming into himself through his own strength but because of how bad it had hurt to get here and how hard his friends held on no matter how hard he tried to get them to let go, it's about wanting to make a difference but knowing his own limits and, when given a chance to cross that line when nobody would have blamed him for it, refusing to because for the first time since he put on the suit, he knows exactly precisely who he is and why
Show, can you please stop hedging around the fact Matt is blind? The
“Can you see?” “In a manner of speaking” / “It’s complicated”
has been trotted out three times now, and unless I’ve spent twenty years misreading the comics, the “world on fire/impressionistic painting” is - like the radar panels in the source material - at most a metaphor for his mind’s eye. (And that metaphor is probably still simplified for our and others’ benefit.) He has no light perception. He reads by touch. The braille isn’t for show, and is a hell of a lot easier than focusing to work with printed text. He gathers information from all his other senses, and some of his more superpowered ones - sound, smell, touch, air currents, improvised radar/echolocation - and pieces them together. If comics, a medium so intensely visual, can get this across more clearly than the show, then something is seriously wrong.
The concept that Matt has to fit into a bullshit sighted perception of “he can still basically ‘see’, it’s just with a palette swap” to legitimately experience or engage with the world is screwed-up as hell. While it makes sense that Matt may feel uncomfortably like his blindness is a cover after years spent hiding his abilities from the world, and while he may be sick of the ableism and stereotyping he’s had to deal with and may not want to let people put him in a convenient box, having the main character himself hedge on this is... frustrating. And if he hedges, then for clarity, the narrative shouldn’t.
I feel like the show needs to have more faith in the sighted audience and their empathy, and trust that we don’t need something that looks enough like our perception to get it and emotionally engage. Either that or they need to basically stop hedging and give us an IKEA manual of Matt’s powers, which would completely pause the plot and break immersion. Have faith in your audience! If you have faith we can keep up with foreshadowing, non-linear narrative, swapping points of view and overly complex crime plotting, have faith that we can keep up with something that’s so fundamentally important to your protagonist.