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All Of Daredevil's Powers Explained

If someone asked you to make a list of the most powerful superheroes in the Marvel Universe, it's a safe bet that Daredevil wouldn't be one of your top choices. Of course, that's not to say that the fearless guardian of Hell's Kitchen is a pushover; with his enhanced senses and incredible acrobatic abilities, he's everything you could ask for and then some in a street-level superhero. However, if you were to put him alongside the likes of radiation-enhanced crimefighters like Spider-Man, mutants like Cyclops, avatars of ancient gods like Moon Knight, or literal gods like Thor, it's easy to see why the Man Without Fear's star tends to shine a little less brightly than some of his colleagues.

However, whatever this guardian devil may lack in raw power or cosmic abilities, he more than makes up for in sheer variety. Due to Daredevil's unique gifts, there's a wide range of things he can do that have served him well in countless dangerous situations — including one that's so ridiculous, modern writers generally ignore it. Here's a comprehensive rundown of the many spectacular things Matthew Murdock can do — the amazing talents that have helped him hold his own against petty street criminals, electrifying supervillains, and even indestructible genocidal robots.

Hearing heartbeats

With the popularity boost Matt Murdock enjoyed thanks to the well-received "Daredevil" Netflix series, his origin story is familiar to people who have never read any of its multiple retellings from the comics or seen 2003's "Daredevil," the less-than-stellar feature film about the horn-headed hero. In a tragic accident involving dangerous chemicals, the young Matt Murdock loses his sight but discovers that his other senses have been enhanced to superhuman levels. Chief among these is his sense of hearing, which is so powerful that it not only hears sounds imperceptible to ordinary human ears, but also tells him whether someone is being less than truthful.

As 2004's "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Daredevil" explains, the Man Without Fear is capable of hearing sounds at a pressure level of 7 decibels, compared to the regular human lower limit of 20 decibels. His sense of hearing is described to be powerful enough to hear someone's heartbeat from more than 20 feet away from him — an ability that he uses to identify people from a distance — or even conversations through soundproofed walls. He demonstrates this ability in 2020's "Daredevil" #24 when he hears his former flame Elektra's barely audible whispers across a courtroom full of people.

Daredevil is also a walking lie detector test who can perceive even the slightest heartbeat changes to discern truths from lies, a talent that comes particularly handy during his day job as a lawyer. However, his hearing superpowers aren't perfect. On certain occasions, he's been tricked by opponents wearing pacemakers.

Detecting pressure points

Despite being a capable and competent hero, Daredevil's raw strength isn't quite up to par with the likes of Spider-Man, who's capable of lifting tons, or Wolverine, who walks around with an indestructible and extremely heavy adamantium skeleton at all times. However, the scarlet-clad swashbuckler has shown on many occasions that he doesn't need superhuman strength to perform astounding feats that would typically require it. Instead, he can use a combination of his wits and his incredible sense of touch.

Daredevil's sense of touch enables him to analyze the structural strengths and weaknesses of an opponent or a structure. Combined with his martial arts training and amazing agility, this makes the crimefighter an efficient fighting machine capable of disabling foes with minimal effort. In the fifth issue of 2001's "Daredevil: Yellow," he even uses this trait to free his secretary Karen Page from a metal cage. Daredevil manages to sense the weakest points of the prison bars and concentrate his efforts on those spots, bending steel with essentially just his hands.

Superhuman sense of smell

Because all of Daredevil's remaining senses received a massive boost in the accident that blinded him, they can help him — and occasionally hinder him — in ways that sight never could. 

Take his sense of smell, for example. Daredevil's remarkable nose gives him the ability to tell twins apart, identify anyone he has ever been in the same vicinity with for at least five minutes no matter how much perfume they put on themselves to mask their natural scent, or even pinpoint a target standing in a crowd 50 feet away by their natural odor alone. In other words, Daredevil is an excellent tracker; once he sets his mind on pursuing a target, it's almost always certain that he'll catch them, no matter how long the chase takes. In theory, an abundance of foul stenches could overwhelm him; in practice, he's lived in New York City for his entire life, and he's had super senses for most of that time. Daredevil has smelled it all, and none of it fazes him anymore.

Sensing atmospheric disturbances (and teleporters)

You've probably met someone who can just tell when it's about to rain because they can smell it. Believe it or not, there's a legit scientific explanation for that (via the Washington Post). Matt Murdock is kind of like that ... turned up to 11. 

According to 2004's "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Daredevil," the Man Without Fear can detect even the slightest atmospheric disturbances, which means he can do more than just tell you if you need to bring an umbrella before you step out of the house. Daredevil's senses are so strong that he becomes instantly aware of even the slightest pressure and temperature changes in his environment. Combined with his radar sense and his hyper-sensitive skin, Daredevil can actually tell when a character with teleportation powers is about to pop up in front of him. 

For instance, in the fifth issue of the controversial miniseries "Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do," Daredevil becomes aware of an atmospheric change during a conversation with Spider-Man. Sure enough, the X-Man Nightcrawler materializes right beside the pair mere moments later.

Superhuman sense of taste

Criminals killing their victims with poisoned food or beverages is a fairly common mystery and detective story trope. While this trick could easily work on any average Joe or Jane, Daredevil's heightened sense of taste serves as a safeguard against such threats on his life.

In 2021's "Daredevil" #29, Daredevil is serving a stint in jail for reasons we're not going to disclose in the interest of avoiding spoilers. While imprisoned, Murdock realizes that someone is attempting to kill him by poisoning his food. As the guardian devil of Hell's Kitchen describes in his internal monologue, a single bite of his prison food allows him to distinguish the different ingredients used, as well as single out the one ingredient that feels "wildly off." Thanks to his super-taste, Daredevil manages to save his own life by dashing to the prison yard and expelling the remaining undigested poison in his system via induced vomiting.

On a less serious note, his enhanced gustatory senses could theoretically give Daredevil the ability to recreate any recipe he is able to sample himself — provided that at least 20 milligrams of each ingredient are present in the dish (via 2008's "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z" Vol. 1 #3).

Enhanced reflexes

Daredevil certainly doesn't move at a speedster's pace like Quicksilver, nor could his agility hold a candle to that of Spider-Man. However, ol' Hornhead is certainly no slouch when it comes to dodging danger. 

A combination of ninja training and enhanced senses makes Daredevil's reflexes one of his most important life-preserving abilities, as he can confidently dart in and out of fights against tough opponents and walk away relatively unscathed. In 1986's "Daredevil" #233, for example, Murdock evades bullets fired by Nuke, a violent super-soldier created as part of the Weapon Plus program, from a helicopter. Considering how a typical human's reaction time to stimuli ranges between 0.15 and 0.25 seconds (via Backyard Brains), the speed at which Daredevil can react to threats and avoid them is impressive, to say the least.

On some occasions, Daredevil has received boosts to his already-impressive abilities that make it difficult for typically more powerful opponents to lay a hand on him. In the fourth issue of 2010's "Shadowland" miniseries, a corrupted Daredevil under the magical influence of The Hand dodges Spider-Man's strikes with little difficulty.

Sonar and proximity sense

Daredevil may not be able to actually see anything, but his remaining senses are powerful enough to make sure he doesn't have to. Thanks to his radar sense, the Man Without Fear is able to create "a very close analogue of three-dimensional human sight," as the "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z" #3 from 2008 explains. His echolocation abilities help him identify objects in his immediate surroundings, while his proximity sense tells him where they are located.

Murdock's radar sense isn't just useful on the ground, though. During missions where the Man Without Fear needs to go for a swim, his radar sense becomes an underwater "sonar sense" that guides his path, similar to how submarines navigate ocean depths. A demonstration of this is seen in 1965's "Daredevil" #10, in which Daredevil faces off against an aquatic opponent known as Frog-Man — not to be confused with the contemporary Frog-Man slated to appear in an upcoming episode of "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law." Daredevil uses his radar sense to pursue and overpower the underwater ne'er-do-well, who only escapes his clutches by dropping a grenade that briefly dazes the hero.

That said, Daredevil's radar sense has sometimes been depicted in bizarre ways. For instance, in 1973's "Daredevil" #97, we see Daredevil noting the strange skeletal structure of someone in his immediate vicinity, which means he has X-ray "vision" ... sort of.

Reading with his fingers

At first, the idea that Daredevil can read despite his nonexistent eyesight might not sound that remarkable. After all, there's an entire system of writing — named after its inventor, Louis Braille — designed to allow vision-impaired folks to read. However, in many circumstances, Matt Murdock can read what a typical person with no eyesight problems can.

Thanks to his enhanced sense of touch, the crimson crusader's fingertips can effortlessly perceive even the fine print on a newspaper. His tactile abilities have reached the point where he can detect the faintest traces of ink on paper, even while he's wearing gloves, which makes the raised dots of the Braille system unnecessary. Unsurprisingly, Murdock helps keep his powers secret by requesting his paperwork printed in Braille, which is what one would expect from a blind man. 

Of course, his finger-reading ability isn't as effective if Daredevil is dealing with a smooth surface with letters underneath it. Basically, he has to be able to run his fingers across the letters to be able to "read." We're not aware of any instance of Daredevil "reading" a phone or monitor screen — presumably, the decline of print media over the last few decades has been a particular inconvenience to the Man Without Fear.

Perceiving colors through touch

Even though Daredevil can't see, he compensates with his other highly enhanced senses which enable him to do a wide range of things that a blind man shouldn't be able to do. Apparently, that includes being able to distinguish colors. This power is so bizarre and difficult to explain, even within the rules of notoriously squishy comic book science, that modern writers ignore it almost entirely.

In his very first appearance, Matt Murdock is seen crafting his own costume, explaining that his sense of touch allows him to tell colored fabrics apart because they have "a different feel" from one another. This ability to "feel" colors rears its head once more in 1970's "Daredevil" #60, in which the Man Without Fear assumes the identity of a goon he knocked out, not just by wearing the lackey's clothes, but also by matching the color of his hair using "a few hip-pocket chemicals." Interestingly, he is unable to use this mind-boggling talent 46 issues later, when he nearly fails to rescue Moondragon from certain death because he can't figure out the right color button to push.

Notably, Daredevil's color-sense (for lack of a better term) pops up again in 1995's "Daredevil" #339, in which he convinces Ben Urich that he is not Matt Murdock by correctly guessing the image on a photograph based on the heat absorbed by its colors. Kudos to Marvel for attempting to explain this with science, at least.

Master marksman and martial artist

One of the reasons why Daredevil occasionally succeeds at keeping his identity a secret is it's hard for a lot of people to believe that a blind man could be under that mask. Anyone who has ever faced the Man Without Fear in combat would attest to both his incredible fighting skills and his near-flawless aim. Surely, no handicapped person — let alone a sightless lawyer from Hell's Kitchen — could possibly be that good at punching, right?

According to 2008's "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z" Vol. 1 #3, the red-clad guardian devil combines ninja training with various martial arts and boxing (his father was a prize fighter, remember) in his personal combat style. By honing this mix of techniques and moves over the years, Daredevil has become one of the Marvel Universe's most formidable hand-to-hand fighters; he's a true scrapper who will almost always be the last man standing in an all-out physical bout. 

Plus, he doesn't even need eyesight to go toe-to-toe with Marvel's most dangerous assassins and sharpshooters. Whether it's his batons, traditional ninja weapons like shuriken and throwing knives, a bow and arrows, or even guns — as we see in 2019's "Daredevil" #4, where he actually wins a gunfight against the Punisher — Murdock displays a mastery of long-range combat that even people with the gift of sight have serious difficulty matching. 

Fearlessness

Daredevil is often referred to as the Man Without Fear, and with good reason. After all, any handicapped person who puts themself in harm's way to help save other people certainly deserves to be called "fearless." In Daredevil's case, though, his moniker has proven to be more than just clever marketing throughout the years. Despite how it's generally not considered one of Daredevil's official superpowers, he has demonstrated some level of resistance against fear-inducing powers and toxins.

One such instance took place in the "Daredevil/Batman" one-shot published in 2000. In the comic, the two agile warriors team up against some of their worst enemies, including the Dark Knight's fear-manipulating foe, the Scarecrow. In an attempt to defeat Daredevil, the raggedy villain uses his fear chemicals on the hero. It seems to work for a few seconds ... until Murdock shockingly laughs off the effects of the Scarecrow's toxin, kicks him off the Statue of Liberty, and saves him from hitting the pavement just in time to bring him to jail.

In another example, Daredevil unknowingly put an end to a threat that brought powerful beings like the Silver Surfer and Thor to their knees. "Marvel Comics Presents" Vol. 1 #4 features an extradimensional fear-eating being. The creature hops from one Marvel character to another, aiming to consume more victims in the process. Upon latching on to Daredevil, it perishes in agony, screeching that Murdock has no fear in his system whatsoever.

Minor telepathy and telepathic immunity

With the long list of ways in which Daredevil can creatively use his enhanced senses and ninja training, one can argue that he actually ends up with more advantages than your average street-level superhero. And one of the most peculiar abilities in Daredevil's arsenal — one that you probably wouldn't expect him to have in the first place — is his limited telepathic power.

While training with his blind mentor Stick, Murdock learns how to unlock his minor psionic abilities, as well as how to use them for practical and defensive purposes. On certain occasions, for example, Murdock has been portrayed as able to telepathically communicate with other members of Stick's ninja order, The Chaste, and people with similar powers.

Additionally, because of Murdock's heightened senses that are constantly kicked into overdrive, anyone who tries to intrude on his mind gets a taste of what it's like to be Daredevil — except without the years of intense training required in order for them to not be instantly overwhelmed. The X-Man called Psylocke got a taste of this in her confrontation with the Man Without Fear in 2012's "AvX: VS" #4. During a rooftop brawl, she attempted to shut down Daredevil's mind, but was momentarily incapacitated by his hyper-sensory overload instead.

Olympic-level balance and acrobatics

While there's little doubt that Spider-Man could beat the rest of New York City's superheroes in a contest of agility and acrobatics, it's equally certain that the Man Without Fear would be a strong contender for second place. The scarlet-clad swashbuckler swings through the city skyline with ease, having mastered the busy city's rooftops in his nightly quest to rid Hell's Kitchen's streets of evil. And in his years of superhero derring-do, his abilities have been shown to rival even fellow martial artists like Iron Fist. Interestingly enough, Iron Fist temporarily takes on Daredevil's mantle starting in 2006's "Daredevil" #82 following the public revelation of Murdock's secret identity.

The third issue of the "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z" Vol. 1 describes Daredevil as "an Olympic-level athlete and gymnast with the acrobatic ability of a circus performer and the pugilistic skills of a heavyweight prizefighter," which is about as accurate a depiction of his abilities as one could hope to read. Stick and the Chaste helped Murdock hone his death-defying gymnastics skills, which allow the superhero to thrive in the urban jungle. In fact, one could argue that Daredevil is perhaps more at home jumping from building to building than patrolling New York at the ground level.

Armored costume

For an agile character like Daredevil, mobility is obviously key when it comes to costume choices. As 2004's "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Daredevil" reveals, his regular red costume is made of Lycra with steel fibers woven in for added protection. That's why his decision to wear an armored costume in 1993's "Daredevil" #321 comes off as a rather strange, albeit understandable choice. 

After his usual costume gets ripped to shreds, Murdock crafts a brand-new suit with a bold look. Forgoing his classic all-red garb for a suit that combines red, black, and silver, Murdock leaps into action with a reinforced costume, complete with metallic shoulder, knee, leg, and wrist armor. According to the Official Handbook, the suit is made up of "biomimetic materials" inspired by orb-weaver spiders' web patterns, offering protection from both blunt and sharp weapons. His timing couldn't be better, as he quickly finds himself up against a demonic doppelganger. His armored suit also debuts during a complicated time in the Man Without Fear's life, shortly after he faked the death of his civilian identity and opted, at least temporarily, to live and operate as Daredevil full-time.

Curiously, the costume lasted for a good 24 issues — that's two whole years of reality time — until Murdock himself unknowingly destroys it while having a nightmare in 1995's "Daredevil" #345.