Daredevil Dances with Disability

In cultureShock, Entertainment by Jeff McAllister

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s SUPER GIMP!?

Well, not exactly.

I enjoy movies, I really do; but I missed this one in the theaters and am just getting around to seeing it. Daredevil–about a blind guy by day and superhero by night–is pretty good, given it is barely even based closely to reality. But, what else would a superhero movie be about?

The blindness of the main character is probably the most realistic ever portrayed in movie (or television) due to the movie’s “technical advisor,” who himself is blind. The DVD version of this rental has an interesting short about him, which shows him playing golf. Obviously, there’s no way sighted people would be able to fully understand what it is like.

This movie takes the idea that once you lose one of your senses, the rest will become enhanced; to extremes, no doubt, but it is just a movie. The main character can identify any smell, no matter how far away, just by breathing. He can also “see” using some kind of bat-like radar, allowing him to sense sound waves. This, unfortunately, will make some people think that actually happens.

He can also hear everything within the island of Manhattan at any given time, though I assume he can only hear bad things, because that ability comes and goes throughout the movie. This ability is so obtrusive, at times, that our superhero must sleep in some kind of metal cocoon. Though, now that I think about it, it looks more like a coffin filled with water. Another problem is that when he fights bad guys, everything from a car horn to a sneeze can render him incapacitated. This paradox is actually what makes this movie a decent portrayal of a disability, though not portrayed by somebody who has one.

Now, most superheros have some sort of fault or imperfection (for lack of a better word) that causes great difficulty, but also is a benefit.

Most of them are caused by some freak accident, because of some science experiment, or some evil person, and this one is no exception. This accident, though, is simply bad luck and some toxic waste in his eyes.

But, where are the imperfections that exist from birth or because of a normal accident? Do they ever exist? A recent example from last year’s television season was “Bird of Prey” on the WB network. Apparently, that does not hold people’s attention, because it was canceled about as quickly as it came out. Was it because the person was “too” disabled? Possibly. Or, could it have been because it was a female character? Again, possibly.

I think a movie of a wheelchair-using female superhero would do much better, at least among disabled people. I would certainly like to see a wheelchair-using superhero using voice recognition and hand controls, and having them overcome obstacles that prevent them from saving people, like no ramps. By day–“independent living coordinator;” by night–“Super Gimp.”