A Primer on Daredevil’s Sensory Abilities

The Answer-Man deconstructs Daredevil’s superhuman senses

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Matt Murdock goes blind after being struck by a truck filled with radioactive mutagens: Daredevil #1 (April, 1964)
  • Can Daredevil detect any aspect of color with his metahuman senses?
  • Does Daredevil experience any severe disadvantages due to his blindness?
  • More recently: How true to the comics are DD’s powers in the Netflix series?

Does Daredevil experience any disadvantages due to his blindness?

You mean besides enjoying photography, reading billboard advertising, using telescopes, effectively using cameras, enjoying playing Fruit Ninja on his smartphone, driving (in his secret identity) and the myriad of other things blind people have to contend with? He is no more disadvantaged than any other blind person who manages to enjoy a life without the benefits of sight. People do it every day.

  • Yes, he can read newsprint with his fingers and can even detect the heat of LEDs on the screen, but the easy use of most modern technology sighted people take for granted, Matt Murdock can only use at the very periphery IF a second sense can be forced into doing tasks it’s ill-suited for.
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Blind superheroes don’t just read braille. They read newspapers with their fingertips.

I heard Daredevil can read a newspaper with his fingertips. Can he distinguish colors as well?

While his sense of touch has been trained to read the slight differences of print on paper, He cannot discern color.

  • If Daredevil were to spend the time it takes to learn and memorize the scent of particular dyes or chemical coloring, then perhaps he could have an idea of a particular color. But color is for the most part an absolute visual designation system.
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If this is the quality of his sight, then he is still EFFECTIVELY blind… So much image quality is still lost.
  • During investigations, he cannot process visual clues that would be easily noticed by someone who could see, so his detective work is hampered.
  • On the upside, with his other senses he is the equivalent of a walking crime lab using his hearing, sense of touch, sense of smell and sense of taste to discern information in the moment that might require hours to utilize if he were forced to use technology.
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Early depictions made it like echolocation. He would hear/sense/discern data beyond the range of any singular sense.

3. How true to the comics are DD’s powers in the Netflix series?

Daredevil’s enhanced senses are being depicted in the Netflix series Daredevil as both a fusion of his four remaining senses and as a limited but discrete “radar sense” which appears to Matt Murdock as “a world on fire.” This is as consistent as the inconsistent depictions of his powers tend to be. Overall, the show has maintained an internal integrity in their representations of his powers and abilities.

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  • He is able to differentiate and recognize individuals by their heatbeat and movement alone. He is able to discriminate well enough to follow the ticking of a wristwatch down a crowded street.
  • His hearing allows him to recognize the signs of physiological distress when a person is lying. It can also function as a sonar sense giving him a form of ecolocation and 360 degree awareness.
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  • He can differentiate the chemical makeup of common foods and chemicals. He can detect scent information in a fashion similar to a bloodhound, even being able to track by scent alone. His ability to track by scent is comparable to Wolverine’s.
  • His sense of touch is super-acute as well. Its depictions vary widely depending on the writers. In addition to reading braille, he can feel the deformations in newsprint or books and read regular writing as well by running his fingers across the page.
  • His awareness of touch, allows him to detect movement of air and this aids him in his hand-to-hand fighting style, it also makes him very aware of how his opponents fight, giving him a form of reflexive fighting making even very skilled opponents less able to counter his techniques.
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