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Daredevil: Why Matt Murdock Started Wearing the Armored Costume

Daredevil has never been prone to changing costumes often. After ditching his original yellow costume in Daredevil #7 by Stan Lee, Wally Wood, and Artie Simek, Daredevil was rarely seen in anything other than his iconic red. That all changed when Matt Murdock’s favorite costume was torn to shreds during the “Fall From Grace” story arc.

DG Chichester and Scott McDaniel’s “Fall From Grace” story arc depicts Daredevil racing against a plethora of enemies to locate a viral weapon. During the hunt for the “About Face” virus and a telepath, Daredevil crossed paths with Silver Sable and her Wild Pack. Daredevil’s iconic red costume had been torn during a fight with Crippler, so he made some adjustments. His costume was still salvageable after the fight and he altered it to look similar to a karate outfit, much like Ryu wears in the Street Fighter series of video games. This look would prove to be short-lived as Matt was one again ambushed by Silver Sable.

Daredevil’s costume suffered additional damage from Sable before the two came to an agreement and ceased fighting. Matt went home with his costume in tatters. Realizing that he was up against some truly lethal competition, Daredevil saw no other choice but to strengthen his look, literally in 1993’s Daredevil #321. Matt switched out the red for a sleek new black and added extra armor to the shoulders, legs, and wrists. He kept the red in the suit as an accent and made the eyes red to give him a more fearful look. The new costume was meant to move Daredevil from neighborhood hero up to the big leagues.

Daredevil faced quite a few villains during his short time in the armored suit, including Venom, Hellspawn, and the Snakeroot. Daredevil would continue to wear his armored suit for 20 issues after “Fall From Grace.” He battled System Crash with Captain America and Iron Fist, took the fight to Hydra, and even partnered with Kingpin while wearing this new suit. Ultimately, Matt’s impending identity crisis saw the end of his new look, with one of his personas ripping the suit to shreds.

The ’90s were filled with memorable new costume changes for many comic book superheroes. Many of these new looks also incorporated an armored look similar to the one Daredevil adopted. Captain America started wearing an armored costume in Captain America #438 by Mike Gruenwald and Dave Hoover, as did Batman during the events of “Knightfall.”

While Daredevil’s armored appearances have been incredibly scarce since Daredevil #345, there’s another of his costumes that appears to take inspiration from Matt’s ’90s look. Matt Murdock’s Shadowland suit plays with different aspects from his armored suit but gives it a much more sleek look that is more fitting for the Man Without Fear. It brought back the black look and wrist attachments but left off all of the armor protection and red accents. While never gaining the popularity of his iconic red design, this costume fit better with Daredevil’s personality than the armored costume.

In recent issues, Matt Murdock has traded in his red garb for a fresh prison jumpsuit while Elektra plays the role of Daredevil for the time being. If Matt leaves prison and continues to be the protector of Hell’s Kitchen he may need another new look. Daredevil is now a convicted murderer and the citizens of Hell’s Kitchen may associate his iconic costume with that horrible deed. He may have to strap back into an old costume or create something new to inspire change within the neighborhood he loves so much.