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Sunday, August 04, 2019

Law in Popular Culture

With Avengers: Endgame now the highest grossing film of all time  and Spiderman: Far From Home raking in $1 billion at the world wide box office, we are firmly in an Age of (Super) Heroes. Now that our (popular) culture is immersed in the superhero/comic book genre, it is a good time to reflect on its place in legal culture.

Scholars and practitioners have begun to dissect the themes and portrayal of the legal profession in fantasy-based popular culture. Law and the Multiverse, I believe the first blog on the subject matter, routinely examines the law as it’s portrayed in comics and the films based on them. Editor, James Daily, is co-author of the landmark work, The Law of Superheroes. The first to examine the place of those “with powers far beyond mortal men” in the legal landscape. The subject has also drawn interest at industry conventions. This past April, Awesome Con in Washington, DC featured a panel called Law and Order in Comics.It bought together scholars, practitioners, and writers.

Many of these discussions revolve around the heroics of the blind lawyer turned vigilante, Daredevil. Netflix wove three critically acclaimed seasons of intense storytelling around the character. Albeit, the show turned in a poor outing with its accuracy in its portrayal of the law. Matt Murdock (DD’s alter ego) and his law partner, Foggy Nelson, routinely violated the attorney-client privilege as did every other lawyer in the show. The main bad guy, The Kingpin, is actually convicted based on information he provided to his own lawyers. Law school fares no better with our heroes studying Spanish, and appearing to take other undergraduate classes.

Notwithstanding the portrayal in television and film (let’s not getting started with a private attorney prosecuting a criminal in the Ben Affleck starring movie version), the profession has been well served by the writers of DD. Charles Soule is an attorney and writer, most famous for his work with Marvel, brought his experience as an attorney to the written page. Daredevil, for example, takes a job as an Assistant District Attorney.She-Hulk accurately portrayed the titular heroine losing her BigLaw job for a lack of billing because she’s off saving the universe with the Avengers. 

Louis Rosen, a reference librarian at Barry University School of Law, argues that comics, Daredevil specifically, provide an opportunity to educate the public on the role of lawyers in society through accurate portrayals across mediums. His article can be found here, and an interview with him here.

I have found it interesting to examine real world legal issues through this lens as well. I wrote my own piece on the ethics of Matt Murdock representing criminals he captured as Daredevil. Analogizing to off duty police officers, I examined whether it was ethical for Matt Murdock to represent criminals who he caught as Daredevil.

As it looks like we will be enjoying the fruits of the MCU for the foreseeable future, we can draw from it for legal discourse.


Posted by Scott Maravilla on August 4, 2019 at 12:37 PM | Permalink


"let’s not getting started with a private attorney prosecuting a criminal"

Which movie depicts that?

Posted by: Jr | Aug 6, 2019 5:56:34 AM

Just punch line, to the analogy made, between the judge described, and dual role of one lawyer:

The adherence to protocol, over intuition, is so powerful or inherent, that as the judge, ignoring public opinion for the sake of justice, as well the lawyer, he is capable that much to ignore emotional conflicts and mere intuition, in favor of adherence to procedure and protocols.

So, how far can we take such inhuman capacity to bear conflict of interest? Fictitious literature , can definitely help it seems, to explore it philosophically.


Posted by: El roam | Aug 4, 2019 3:14:58 PM

Interesting, bit unusual ( at least for me personally, having more interest in real stuffs typically ). I don't think that it is good idea or effective one, to educate the public through such fictitious stuffs. What I can think of, is indeed the following:

That it is rather, the right gender or kind of litterateur to explore further, philosophical absurd ( although provided also in the real world):

For, only in fictitious sphere, one can explore further, such issue of dual role, while bearing conflict of interest. In reality, no matter sometimes whether one lawyer can actually serve both masters faithfully or not. But, the appearance counts. Hurting Public trust. It doesn't look good per se, no matter whether he can do it actually. Yet:

If it is done successfully, it may enhance public trust paradoxically. Why ? it does emphasize, the objectivity or objective treatment of the system or protocols. Suppose a judge is facing a case. Public opinion is agitated out of the horrific crime. The public demands a lynch actually. All evidences, seemingly ( emphasizing: seemingly ) suggest that the defendant is actually the perpetrator. Yet, the judge dismiss him.Exonerate him. What does it mean actually, in philosophical and moral terms:

That the system is clean. Treats objectively defendants or parties whatsoever. Not biased. Ignores popular opinions. Professional. What counts is: the truth. Justice. Evidences etc... That is to say:

That innocent people, can rest assured, that if one day, surly as innocent person, they would face such system, surly then, they would have much more chances, to get fair trial. For the system doesn't care about persona, but justice and truth. Ignores public noises, and seeking protocols,over mere intuition.


Posted by: El roam | Aug 4, 2019 2:51:46 PM

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