Asian stereotypes in the otherwise excellent Daredevil


Pretty hard to argue with that. The series as a whole is obviously very good, but the Asians are reeeaally familiar. I wonder if part of the narrative rationale for this is the need to give the primary antagonist, Wilson Fisk, more complexity. With a more implacable, single-minded foe just offstage, Fisk’s position is pushed closer to that “gray zone” the series wants to explore. This seems to be a typical move of a lot of science fiction and fantasy. I’m reminded of how Star Trek: The Next Generation, having tamed the (distinctly “Oriental,” by the way) Klingons, then proceeded to create the Cardassians and, better yet, the Borg. It’s like there has to be a “pure” antagonist somewhere. For “Daredevil,” apparently, it’s the Yellow Peril.


Retcon everything!! That will fix it. No more storylines original to the comic.

That is an actual thing? Because that is really, really grasping at straws.

Not that Asians don’t have to fight against stereotypes, but I really feel this is picking for a fight. Nobu and Gao were the two most capable criminal characters in the show. They were the smartest, most stable, and commanded the most fear/respect from their peers - unlike the irrational, bumbling white Russians who were used as pawns.

Ironically, the article relies on stereotypes calling Nobu Yakuza and Gao a Triad - which are actual gangs, but neither of them are members of those two entities - at least not according to the show. I guess the writer just assumed if they were Japanese and Chinese they must belong to those two entities, not a third party? (Small pass on Nobu, as yakuza can be a generic gangster). Nobu was most likely a member of The Hand, which is a group of assassins in the comics. (The Foot clan is a parody of the name in the TMNT comics).


Sequence for me was as follows:

Click article, Ctrl + F for “torture” because it’s my fundamental issue with Netflix’s Daredevil, 1 of 1 results in the sentence “tortured ethical scale”

Problematic and racism were in there, though.

Well, I’m glad we’re talking about that and how good the show is otherwise, instead of the normalization and hero-ification of cold-blooded physical torture. That’s the legacy of this administration and the last - Torture is fine if we know they’re bad guys, right fellow progressives? Priorities!

Sorry to hear about all your problematic racial stereotypes, would be a great show about how torture makes you the hero if you get results and your cause is just, if it just weren’t for the antiquated portrayals of Asian people.


Eh - Daredevil is more of an anti-hero than a super hero. Which in the comics was a neat dichotomy between that and his lawyer persona.

If you have a problem with a character who breaks the law in the name of justice, DD probably isn’t for you. Also steer clear of The Punisher, as he is really just a murderer who murders other murderers and criminals. Of course it is all fantasy. No one sane is seriously thinking this is a good idea.

Marvel’s Daredevil - where the torture is fantasy, but the Asian stereotypes are real, problematic and racist.

No, that’s not going to fly. The rest of the show should probably be judged on the same level as the racial criticism, no?

For the record, I enjoy comic books, their resultant media, and have been known to wear Spiderman T-shirts. I don’t like the idea that there’s a Marvel TV show now that normalizes torturing suspected criminals for information, for “a good cause”. That’s some post-9/11 bullshit right there, and I’m not on board.


I don’t think the Asians are particularly stereotyped, problematic or racist, YMMV.

But I guess I am not really seeing the problem here. DD’s tactic to beat people for information, which I hesitate to label the same as torture, but anyway, is pretty standard MO for many a gritty hero. It’s not like Batman hasn’t done it a million times. DD isn’t the wise cracking Spiderman. He, like many comic book characters, are the more gritty anti-hero who’s ends justify the means.

Or is your problem where the one scene he takes advice on how to cause the most pain from a nurse? The whole series shows his struggle with him justifying his actions for what he sees as a greater good, and unlike a sociopath, it weighs on him. He keeps skirting the line from being above it, to being dragged down in it.

It just seems to me someone with your apparent sensibilities shouldn’t be watching this show. If it were MLP and Pinkie Pie went off on Rarity for not smiling enough, cutting her to form a permanent grin, I could see the shock and horror. But if you watch a boxing fight and are appalled by the blood and brutality, I have to ask - what did you expect?

I was just recently thinking about how the show itself seemed embarrassed by its Asian characters. Part of it is because these characters are in, and key to, the source material - and not fully explored in this show (apparently they figure more prominently in some future Netflix Marvel shows), and we failed to learn that the Asian drug gang is actually more of a mystic cult. Not that that’s any better, necessarily… Marvel comics have been full of all sorts of problematic orientalisms.

“Orientalist anxieties” includes the MIddle East in this case. It’s absolutely not a coincidence that the explosion of popularity of the zombie happened immediately after 9-11, and we see some references to the event in the zombie films that kicked off this period of popularity (e.g. 28 Days Later). After all, the terror of zombies is that they’re all about one’s previous innocuous, safe neighbors suddenly turning into bloodthirsty, mindless ravening hordes in familiar surroundings that suddenly turn dangerous. That’s the Fox narrative about Islamic terrorists in a nutshell.

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I’ve heard that from people but have a hard time following the logic. There were 6 zombie movies in 2000. There were 8 in 2001. But there were only 4 in 2002 and 12 in 2003. It looks to me like the recent rise in popularity was due to the release in 2002 of 28 days later which brought us a new way to tell the zombie story and was a fun film to boot. The 9/11 angle seems unnecessary to explain the popularity. Since 28 days the number of movies released about zombies has increased year over year as we get further and further away from the events of 9/11 instead of tapering off. How can this be explained if 9/11 is the reason we have so many zombie movies?

Or, to put it another way, what world event took place that caused a rush of vampire movies in the 90’s? To me it looks like the Zombie genre has been gaining ground since 1968.


I dunno - I know people who enjoyed zombies way before 9/11. I think their popularity in the main stream increase because of some good films like 28 Days Later, and as far as monster go, they suck.

Perhaps their popularity is how easy foiled zombies would be, and that gives you some subconscious empowerment. Dracula is basically immortal, Freddy can get you in your dreams, but a sharp stick will kill a zombie. Hell the only time anyone dies on The Walking Dead from a zombie is from either being a complete idiot or dumb luck. If they walked around in thick biker leather it would stop most of them from dying.

It is a scary danger, but not that dangerous, like roller coasters. To extrapolate it beyond that, I dunno. Some times a cigar is just a cigar…


I’m not even sure how to respond to someone who doesn’t think this 100 year old stereotype could not possibly be racist.

What, exactly, was offense and racist?

well, social causes aren’t in competition with each other, so I very much disagree with your argument that they should address all things at once. But I do agree about the shamefulness of “good” (and effective!) torture.


daredevil and punisher are not even remotely in the same category. A lot of really horrific stuff happens in some runs of daredevil, but no, he’s not really an anti-hero. At all.

Depends on the run. While not as bad as The Punisher, I think he falls under the label.

It’s not about the number of movies, it’s about the absolutely massive amounts of money those movies started making after 9/11. Previous to that, they were b-movies with niche appeal - after that, they became a multi-billion dollar enterprise. The World War Z movie cost something like $200 million to make - previous to 9/11 the most expensive zombie movie was in the $4 million ballpark.
What caused a rash of vampire movies in the late '80s and '90s? AIDS.

Except zombies are an apocalyptic scenario, unlike (usually) other monsters. Post-Romero zombies cause utter devastation - they’re a manifestation of the end-times rather than a monster impacting a small number of people. The individual zombie is as significant (as easy to kill) as an ant, ultimately.
It was pretty obvious to me at the time that the post-9/11 zombie movies (28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake) that their popularity was about terrorism (the totally coincidental parallels in 28 Days were downright eerie), and it’s only become more obvious with time - especially given the fact that Fox was talking about terrorists using zombie language.

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Hasn’t the character gone to a lot of effort several times to stop the punisher from doing the whole anti-hero/villain thing? Usually framed as trying to save his soul?

To be honest, must of my experience has to do with Miller’s run in the 80s. I understand it they have taken him back and forth over the line. Though he is a boy scout compared to the Punisher. My point was beating up a bad guy for information is well within character, and he wasn’t as clean cut as many other super heroes.