Strange Bedfellows: Good and Evil in Storytelling

Least spoiler-y image I could find.

Along with what seems like every person on my Twitter feed, I’ve been watching Daredevil the last two weekends.* I’m not done yet, so keep your spoilers to yourself, lest ye be fried by high orbit laser.

Without spoiling anything, one thing the show does better than most anything else I’ve seen is show the relationship between good and evil. Not just the struggle, though obviously that’s a part of it, but the uneasy closeness of those two sometimes. How they lie only a hair’s breadth apart under certain circumstances, and look remarkably alike.

I’m a fan of saying that I love a good bad guy, but what I really love is characters with conflict, good or bad.

The least spoiler-y image out there for this show.Characters need nuance. They need depth. Every bad guy needs the puppy he rescued from a flooding river, every good guy needs the person she beat out for the perfect job. No one is universally loved or hated, and showing that is part of how you make interesting characters. The ones that you hope for and feel for and worry about, whatever side they happen to be on.

Within every good guy should be the struggle to be the good guy. Because being good doesn’t mean being perfect.

Within every bad guy should be something that could have been better. Because they chose to be where they are, and what they are.

Showing both of those struggles—how close good and evil can come to each other—is a powerful story. And probably the reason why so many people are watching Daredevil right now.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got four episodes left.

*I’ve had to create so many temporary filters and blocks to avoid spoilers that my feed looks like a wasteland right now. Sorry, people, I love you all, but those who spoil it for me will be mulched and fed to the sandworms. Not even close to kidding.

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