By Andrew Scott — What makes a hero? It’s a simple question with a complex string of not-so-simple answers. If one’s actions are what determines one’s character, though—as F. Scott Fitzgerald posited— then how can we best understand true heroism within the confines of the superhero genre?
The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and even Captain America were just in the right place at the right time (or wrong place/wrong time, depending on your perspective). Reed Richards and crew were, let’s face it, kind of dumb to fly into space only to be belted with cosmic rays. Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive spider during a school trip. Captain America just happened to be rejected as 4F while an Army scientist with kooky ideas was nearby and recruited him into the secret Super Soldier program.
The Flash? Freak accident. Superman? Sure, his Kansas family raised him right, but the power of our yellow sun pulses within every one of his Kyptonian cells, whether he likes it or not. Batman’s parents were killed, and his actions are informed by that tragedy, but it’s still something that happened to him.
Mutants are, like Lady Gaga, just born that way. They have no choice. All of those gods and goddesses—well, divinity has its privileges, I guess. And forget anyone who possesses some kind of object that grants them special powers, whether it's an amulet, a ring, whatever.
But Daredevil? Matthew Murdock was a hero before he gained his superpowers because he chose to perform a heroic act. He pushed a blind man out of the way of an oncoming vehicle that was carrying radioactive material. The toxic goo blinded him and enhanced his other senses. But his actions made him a hero first.
Happy birthday, Daredevil.
Check out Andrew Scott’s recent interview with artist Peter Krause, and check back to the site Wednesday for a review of this week’s new Daredevil #1.
Andrew Scott is the author of Naked Summer: Stories. He has written for dozens of outlets. He lives in Indianapolis. You can find him on Twitter: @_AndrewScott.