Tagged: Ben Urich

The Law Is A Ass


I’ll bet Matt Murdock wishes he hadn’t screwed up and gotten disbarred in New York. Because now’s when he could cash in.

It’s all because of what happened in Spider-Woman v5 #5, when Jessica Drew heard a woman screaming for help. She changed into her Spider-Woman costume and answered the call. She found a woman fleeing down an alley being chased by a huge, hulking costumed villain of some sort. Just as the bad guy was about to grab the woman, Spider-Woman leapt into action. Literally.

Spider-Woman-5-spoilers-preview-8 copyAnd, no, I didn’t say literally, when I meant figuratively. Spider-Woman leapt off a rooftop and dropped down between the attacker and the woman. She kicked the bad guy away from the woman and followed up by delivering one of her bio-electric venom blasts to his chest. After this, she flipped the attacker with a judo throw and threw him into a wall. Physical but efficient. After all, this wasn’t the story’s main obligatory fight scene, it was just the set-up.


When Jessica went to secure the baddie to a lamp post and call the police, she didn’t have to call the police. The assailant wasn’t a super villain. It was a police officer dressed up as a super villain. And the alley was already full of other police officers. Why even the damsel in distress was a police officer, pretending to be a scream queen. Who says there’s never a cop around when you need one?

Turns out Spider-Woman interrupted a how-to-fight-super-villains training exercise the NYPD was conducting. (And now we know why they say there’s never a cop around when you need one; they’re all in some rain-soaked alley somewhere taking down pretend super villains.)

Cut to the next day: Jessica Drew was in a holding cell in a NYPD precinct, where she’d been for twelve hours after being arrested for assaulting a police officer. She was playing Charades with the other women in her cell when Ben Urich, reporter for the Daily Bugle who learned of Jessica’s arrest on the Internet, got her released. Wasn’t too hard, Ben didn’t even have to post bail. Turns out NYPD didn’t even book Jessica.

Ben explained that the police “knew none of their charges would stick to Spider-Woman. They arrested her and kept her in general lockup all night so that they could post pictures of the super hero under arrest on the Internet and humiliate Jessica. “Sad fact of life: Cops don’t like super heroes as much as super heroes like to think.”

Here’s another sad fact of life: Stupidity like these cops engaged in is costly; to careers and to pocketbooks. As I said earlier, New York disbarred Matt Murdock, so he can’t handle the case. Too bad, too, as this case is a slam dunk. What case? Why Jessica’s lawsuit against New York City for wrongful arrest.

Wrongful arrest? How can it be wrongful arrest, Jessica kicked a police officer. Then she hit him with a venom blast and, finally, judo threw him into a wall. Any one of these would constitute assaulting a police officer by itself. All three of them is multiple counts of assault of a police officer; redundant and proof that super heroing, like comedy, subscribes to the rule of three.

Problem is, they don’t. Not one of the three acts of physical violence actually constituted assault of a police officer. Not kicking him. Not venom blasting him. Not judo throwing him.

There’s a New York statute which defines the crime of assault of a police officer. It’s New York Penal Law § 120.08. No, I didn’t know this off the top of my head. I can’t know all of the criminal statutes of the states, cities, and municipalities in this country. There’s a googolplex of them. So, I Googled it.

NY Penal L § 120.80 says someone commits the crime assault of a police officer when, “with intent to prevent a … police officer … from performing a lawful duty, he causes serious physical injury to such … police officer…”

Ordinarily, this might raise the question: Did Jessica cause serious physical injury to the police officer? In this case, it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter how seriously the police officer was harmed; although it didn’t appear he was hurt too bad. The fact is, Jessica could have ripped off one of his legs and she still wouldn’t have committed assault on a police officer.

Look at the elements of the crime again. Study them. There’ll be a test later.

Okay, it’s later. (Hey, I never said how much later.) So, here’s the test.

“Jessica Drew didn’t commit assault on a police officer. Explain.”

Right. The statute requires that she must cause the injury “with intent to prevent a police officer from performing a lawful duty.” Jessica didn’t intend to prevent any police officer from doing anything. She honestly and reasonably believed a hulking somebody was attacking a woman in an alley. Her intent was to stop a crime, not to interfere with a police officer.

Remember, Ben Urich told Jessica – and, thus, told us – that the police knew the charges wouldn’t stick. How did they know? They knew because they knew Jessica reasonably believed she was preventing an attack, not interfering with a police officer.

However, that means that the police arrested Jessica knowing full well that she didn’t commit any crime so they didn’t have probable cause to arrest her. They arrested her for the express purpose of posting pictures of her arrest on the Internet and embarrassing her. That’s what’s sometimes called a bad faith arrest. Not to be confused with pinching Buffy’s slayer friend for theft. That’s a Faith’s bad arrest.

When the police made a bad faith arrest without probable cause just so they could embarrass Jessica, they broke the law themselves. It’s NY Penal L § 195, official misconduct. It happens when a public servant, such as a police officer, knowingly commits an unauthorized act relating to his office with the intent to deprive a person of a benefit. Falsely arresting a person so as to embarrass her, would deprive that person of the benefit of her right to liberty under the Fourteenth Amendment. And by these actions, the police committed a crime, they also opened the city of New York up to a false arrest lawsuit.

Earlier this year, a law student in Brooklyn was parked in a bus stop. Two police officers chased him out of the spot, not because he was parked illegally but because they wanted to park there themselves so that they could go to a nearby food truck. When the student confronted the cops about their abuse of power, they cited the student with two counts of disorderly conduct. The student sued New York City for false arrest and reached an out-of-court settlement that netted him some money. And netted his attorney even more money in legal fees.

If that law student could successfully sue the city because the police cited him to make him stop busting their chops about their parking in a bus stop, imagine what a bona fide super heroine and former member of the Avengers could do with the police illegally arresting her for the specific purpose of embarrassing her. Hell there’s probably even be a federal civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lurking around in there somewhere.

And if the law student’s lawyer got an even bigger award in legal fees than the student won, there’s money to be had for some lawyer. Matt Murdock can’t take the case. Maybe Jennifer Walters will take Jessica’s case. And if Jen’s too busy being She-Hulk, I might consider getting my law license reinstated – I let it it go inactive after I retired from the public defender office – so I could have a crack at it.

On second thought, no. Jessica is a fictional character and her case a fictional case. So any damage awards or attorney fees would also be fictional. While the joys of being retired from the practice of law are all too real.

Box Office Democracy TV Special: Daredevil

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe is an unqualified success, I don’t think I’m alone when I say that the Marvel Televisual Universe is much more of a mixed bag. While I hear Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has gotten much better since a rocky start but I’ll never know because I decided I would never care about any of those characters over a year ago. Agent Carter had me completely captivated for two episodes until it started to feel like Mad Men meets an exceptionally long episode of Scooby-Doo. Daredevil has none of this blandness; it doesn’t feel like anything else in the Marvel stable or anything on TV at all, really. It’s a dark, violent, abrupt show that begs you to binge watch it and then gives you bad dreams as a punishment.

Daredevil feels more like an extended Christopher Nolan Batman film than it does anything else in the Marvel canon. This world of organized crime, corrupt police and brutal fight scenes feels much more like Nolan’s Gotham City than any of the slick worlds we’ve seen in the rest of the Marvel universe. There’s a signature scene at the end of episode two where a long take down of a criminal gang is done in one take and it’s a wonder to behold. It lays down what the aesthetic of the entire show will be in that sequence and it seems to serve to hook the audience or inform them that maybe this show won’t be for them. It’s different than anything I’ve ever seen on a super hero TV show or, honestly, maybe anywhere. It feels like HBO-level action but with considerably less swearing and no nudity. (more…)

Emily S. Whitten: Daredevil in the MCU

Marvel’s Daredevil premiered on Netflix on Friday, April 10. All 13 episodes went up at once, which is great both for binge-watchers (a.k.a. people who just really like long-form storytelling, okay??) like me; and also for Marvel’s presumed need to establish key but new-to-MCU characters before Captain America: Civil War, which hits theaters May 6, 2016.

Of course, we don’t actually know if Daredevil will show up in Civil War, even if the show appears to have teased the Civil War plot. Oddly enough, as of two weeks ago, Daredevil star Charlie Cox said he hadn’t been “invited to that party.” On the other hand, it seems like Civil War would be the perfect movie in which to tie the Marvel movies and TV shows even more tightly together. Given we already have connections in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the next planned Marvel Netflix shows will star Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and The Defenders (to include, perhaps, appearances by MCU characters we’ll have seen by then like Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and The Hulk?), it should be a no-brainer (and almost necessary) for Marvel to include relevant TV characters in the larger-scale Civil War movie, and perhaps cameos for any stars of the Netflix shows who haven’t made it to TV yet by May of 2016.

But I guess even if we don’t see all the TV characters in the movies by Civil War, it still gives watchers a foundation of MCU character knowledge for those superheroes if they are referenced in the plot. Of course, having all of these TV shows means to truly be caught up on the MCU you now have to watch both the Marvel movies and the TV shows; but fortunately, at least so far, that’s no hardship. (And it can make for fun Easter egg hunting in both movies and shows. Another cool one from Daredevil is the newspaper headline for the “Battle of NY” in Ben Urich’s office, as well as the script’s indication that Wilson Fisk’s rise to power is built on the destruction that took place during The Avengers movie.)

With Agent Carter having had a great eight episode run (that show is so much fun), and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continuing to be a fan favorite, Daredevil has come in as the newest addition to TV, and it is really good. As teased previously, it is definitely darker and grittier than some of Marvel’s fare, with a hint of a noir feel; but then, I’ve always associated that aesthetic with Daredevil anyway. One of the things I enjoy about the Daredevil stories is the exploration of the microcosm of Hell’s Kitchen and its resident vigilante. The comic has always had a sort of small town/big city feel to it because of how deeply Daredevil is rooted in that one neighborhood, Matt Murdock’s history there, and his desire to make at least his little corner of the world a cleaner place. Even Daredevil’s nemesis, the Kingpin, while his business may spread through New York and beyond, is rooted in the darker, slummier parts of the city. That keeps the comic true to its gritty NYC roots even as the storylines change.

The show overall evokes a dark and sometimes meditative mood, although it’s not lacking in great action scenes, whether they be while Daredevil is fighting villains, or when the Kingpin’s violent urges overcome his generally calm demeanor. Speaking of the Kingpin, he is portrayed here in a wonderfully complex manner by one of my long-time favorite actors, Vincent D’Onofrio. One thing I really like about Daredevil is that it’s not a black-and-white show. It humanizes the villains to some extent; such as when it shows the to-the-death devotion between the Russian Ranskahov brothers, and a peek into the difficult past that led them to their position at the show’s start. Nowhere is this humanization more well done than with Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. He is in equal parts a sympathetic villain and truly chilling, and D’Onofrio manages to continually evoke the feeling that with this man, “still waters run deep” and beneath the surface there is a well of complex emotions coupled with his terrifying rage. In the comics, the Kingpin, despite his low origins, publicly attempts to appear as an educated man, and is portrayed as an entrepreneurial villain.

This comes across in the TV script, in lines such as, “Problems are just opportunities that have not presented themselves,” and in his business dealings and his romancing of Vanessa in fancy restaurants, with wines recommended by his assistant. The series also shows the rise of the Kingpin’s obsession with Daredevil, which eventually leads to the seminal comics storyline in which Fisk exposes Murdock as Daredevil and ruins his life and reputation.

Despite dark villains like Fisk, the show retains that humorous edge that defines the modern MCU. One of the best sources of this in Daredevil is Murdock’s best bud Foggy Nelson, who is portrayed perfectly by Elden Henson. I’ve always had a soft spot for Foggy (also played well by Jon Favreau in the 2003 Daredevil movie), who is generally portrayed as being good natured, loyal, and with a good heart. The show does well in using him to inject some levity into the show, without turning him into too much of a goofy comic foil. He’s also a great contrast to the more serious Murdock, and a means for the story to show how Daredevil’s vigilante identity creates difficulties in his “normal” life and in being there for his friends.

One thing I really like about this show is the portrayal of how normal people deal with the superhero/vigilante elements in their world. Two other characters that add a great deal to Daredevil in this aspect are Claire Temple (serving in the role of the Night Nurse), and Ben Urich, the tenacious investigative reporter for The New York Bulletin (rather than The Daily Bugle, as in the comics). The script-writers have managed to make these two characters (played by Rosario Dawson and Vondie Curtis-Hall, respectively) both well-rounded supporting characters, and windows through which viewers can experience how someone might deal with being a “mundane” in a world of heroes and vigilantes. (Such as when Ben Urich says that, “[i]n my experience, there are no heroes; no villains; just people with different agendas.”) I love it when shows manage to successfully convey multiple viewpoints like that.

Of course, a main viewpoint is obviously Daredevil’s, and Charlie Cox does a great job in his dual role as Murdock and his vigilante alter-ego. The show does well to start with a Murdock who wants to make the streets a safer place but is pretty clueless about what’s actually going on out there, and gradually sleuths out the corruption in the NYPD and the existence of a greater criminal network. It also gives an interesting perspective on his views of the law, and how they interplay with his role as a costumed vigilante. Flashbacks to his childhood in Hell’s Kitchen add to the story, and also provide us with a few more fun Easter eggs, such as the mention (and poster) of Carl “Crusher” Creel’s boxing match against Murdock’s father, Battlin’ Jack Murdock; Creel has previously been seen in the MCU as The Absorbing Man on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Overall, I think Daredevil makes a great addition to the MCU, and look forward to seeing how the future Netflix shows pan out and how they all tie in to each other and to the greater MCU as time goes on. It seems like I’m not alone in this. The show has garnered mostly good reviews thus far; and I’d agree with James Gunn (writer-director of Guardians of the Galaxy), who opined on Facebook that “this character I loved so much for so long ha[s] been brought to television with such spirit, love, and care.”

Of course, it’s always nice to get the “person on the street” viewpoint as well; and since I started my Daredevil Netflix binge with a Daredevil Watch Party of me and three friends and assigned them the homework of telling me what they think of the show, I’ll provide their perspectives here as well:

Friend 1: “More than any superhero adaptation I’ve seen recently, Daredevil works independent of its mythos. I find myself wanting to watch it for more than just the really cool fight scenes (which are really cool) and the comic references. Instead, the well-written dialogue and excellent chemistry between the lead actors will keep me coming back for more. I am just as interested to learn about Matt Murdock the lawyer as Daredevil the superhero.

Daredevil is not perfect. I think the creators are sometimes, to the detriment of the plot, overly enthusiastic about no longer having to deal with television censors. However, I am really looking forward to finishing the season.”

Friend 2: “I think Daredevil did a really good job of introducing an outsider (me) and someone who doesn’t generally care for Big Two superheroes (also me) to what is undoubtedly an unholy tangled mess of continuity and backstory without info dumping or becoming utterly impenetrable.”

Friend 3: “The Netflix adaptation of Daredevil has the potential to be the comic world’s answer to The Wire drama on HBO. Daredevil is a crime drama that shows every tier of decay in the post-industrial American city – from the streets to the courtrooms and the newsrooms. Vincent D’Onofrio does a credit to his hometown of Brooklyn by portraying New York crime lord Kingpin as a calculating but very human villain. His performance shows why Kingpin is a more compelling villain than his equally bald DC Comics doppelganger Lex Luthor.”

So there you have it, folks; if you haven’t checked out Daredevil yet, I and my three friends and a bunch of other people on the internets liked it a lot; and I bet you will too. So lay in the popcorn, get comfy, and when you’re done with it, tell me what you think, and Servo Lectio!