There is something about Daredevil that I really grok to. Yes, it's gritty and treats a lot of what is going on with as much realism as one can expect from a blind ninja fighting magic ninjas. Matt Murdoch is someone who you want to aspire to be, but you clearly see the cost on himself and his friends. By the end of the first season, you see a man take upon himself the role of a guardian, and defeating the man who would soon be known as Kingpin essentially for the soul of New York (they always say The Kitchen, but Daredevil is more than that) and those who reside within.
Fisk and Murdoch are both men of terrible conviction, and are willing to do unspeakable things for the betterment of their neighborhood. The main difference is that Matt is willing to have brutal things done to himself, where Fisk is willing to risk others with as little exposure to himself. In all of their scenes together, they argue over New York as if it were a person or a prize. It is theirs to protect. When they engage each other in prison again, Murdoch agrees that while Fisk could leave to see his loved one in some non-extradition country, he could never permanently leave the city.
Because this is New York, Wilson. You live here. This is your jungle. This is your blood, like it is mine.
I'd be surprised if Fisk can't, by that point, figure out that the blind lawyer and the Devil are the same man
With Fisk arrested and his empire fallen, Daredevil embraces his role fully by taking the Devil of Hell's Kitchen moniker to heart and running with it. The city named him, he might as well. And the attitude of protecting his city (and he calls it just that: His) spreads to his friends. Karen writes about the nature of being a New Yorker
What is it, to be a hero? Look in the mirror and you'll know." [sighs] [typing] "Look into your own eyes and tell me you are not heroic, that you have not endured, or suffered... or lost the things you care about most. And yet, here you are... a survivor of Hell's Kitchen... the hottest place anyone's ever known . A place where cowards don't last long. So... you must be a hero. We all are. Some more than others, but none of us alone. Some bloody their fists trying to keep the Kitchen safe. Others bloody the streets in the hope they can stop the tide, the crime, the cruelty... the disregard for human life all around them. But this is Hell's Kitchen. Angel or Devil, rich or poor, young or old, you live here. You didn't choose this town. It chose you. Because a hero isn't someone who lives above us, keeping us safe. A hero's not a God or an idea. A hero lives here on the street, among us, with us. Always here, but rarely recognized. Look in the mirror and see yourself for what you truly are. You're a New Yorker. You are a hero. This is your Hell's Kitchen. Welcome home.
When I first watched Daredevil, and hearing this, I actually stopped and said "Finally, a superhero who I can get behind". I'm a native New Yorker, born and bred in the north Bronx. That level of fidelity to New York is not some trick of fiction, it is grown in. New York is an archipelago nation of hundreds of different languages, cultures and ideas all colliding and mixing together. It is not a forgiving place, it's seen some pretty egregious things over its years.
I grew up as the last age bracket that remembered midtown manhattan as the Red Light and not as neo-Disney (and now, as a row of closed down stores with ridiculous rent rates) and knew that riding the subways at night were not for the faint of heart. And there is a level of pride in that, in knowing that you're in one of the beating cores of the world and that you're alive in a City that doesn't play fair or nice. You didn't come here, you were born here, and New York leaves its mark on its children.
If you read my work, you'll notice a few common threads: New York City, Magic, and at least one person willing to explore all of it. As a roleplayer, I played a character named Rhys, a street mage who spoke to the City, who represented its will and its destiny. Rhys has appeared in several forms (a variant of him appears in Bleed). So long as there is magic, and New York, there is also a Rhys, who represents my love of both.
Watching Daredevil, I see writing that gets that level of love and belief in something special baked in to the streets and people who belong there. That level of brash Romanticism that seems completely overblown for someone who isn't from here but is probably one of the more realistic aspects of the MCU I've seen.
Next up, I'm rewatching Jessica Jones, who definitely portrays the stereotypically New Yorker. I've seen the season before, but it's always a rough one due to the disturbing content within. Thank you.