[Image Description: A close-up headshot of the actress Deborah Ann Woll, in character as Karen Page from the Netflix show Daredevil. Only her face and hair are spoken and she is scowling slightly at the camera.]
Ever since Marvel’s Daredevil hit Netflix, there’s been endless debate about Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll). It seems that fans of the series either love her or hate her, with very little room for nuance in the debate over her role in the show.
In the comics, Karen Page is one of Matt Murdock’s Great Loves. She has no agency aside from being his love interest, and she’s one of few characters in the Marvel Universe who has died and stayed dead. (Fridging women for the furthering of men’s storylines is a common trope, but that’s another essay for another time.)It seems that fans of the series either love her or hate her. Click To Tweet
In the Netflix series, Karen Page is falsely accused of murder, then hired as a pro bono secretary at Nelson and Murdock law firm. Later she becomes a journalist at the New York Bulletin, where she strives to ask difficult questions and report stories that would otherwise go untold.
Karen’s journey from secretary to journalist is marred with conflict. In general, it seems that the writers on Daredevil don’t quite know what to do with her. They attempt to shoehorn her into the role of Matt’s True Love, but the storytelling flops despite Deborah Ann Woll’s chemistry with Charlie Cox. And as Woll continues to demonstrate just how well she knows her character both onscreen and off, it becomes increasingly apparent that Karen With Agency is a woman to be reckoned with, regardless of how the writers mold the script.
Of course, there are other issues with Karen’s arc in Daredevil.
Several people have called out the fact that Ben Urich — the black journalist who was murdered for his involvement with Karen — should never have died. That he was killed unnecessarily for a blonde, white woman to be heralded as the best reporter on the show. And that’s not wrong. Karen essentially takes Ben’s spot at the Bulletin after his death.Karen With Agency is a woman to be reckoned with, regardless of how the writers mold the script. Click To Tweet
Murdering black men to uplift white women is never going to be okay. There’s no arguing with that.
However, as her character has grown, she’s become one of my favorites in the Netflix MCU. Karen Page has an unquenchable thirst for uncovering the truth that pulled me back into journalism in a big way. She’s dogged, committed, and willing to dig into her most monstrous qualities as she pursues a story. She refuses to take no for an answer and stands up for herself, day in and day out, even as she’s repeatedly pushed down, told “no”, or put in very dangerous situations.
Tom Stoppard once said, “I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon.” In a similar vein, Horace Greeley said, “Journalism will kill you, but it will keep you alive while you’re at it.”
Karen Page embodies both of these quotes so fully that it makes me want to scream. Knowing the power of journalism allows Karen to wield her skills like a weapon, and watching her do it — especially in The Punisher — fills me with a desire to write that’s so fierce, my bones ache.Karen’s intense commitment to reporting sparked the part of me that never gave up the dream of writing. Click To Tweet
I chose to pursue a degree in journalism because of early exposure to Rory Gilmore. After college, with the job market in shambles, I ended up working in retail and foodservice to keep myself afloat and pay the bills.
Over the last year, I’ve made concentrated efforts to get back into writing and reporting. I started with fandom — writing about Gilmore Girls, in fact, for the Netflix reunion series. Simultaneously, I got really into watching Daredevil, and Karen’s intense commitment to reporting sparked the part of me that never gave up the dream of writing full-time and making a living from my work.
I’ve never been a person who reports hard news. I follow politics closely, pay attention to international news from as many reputable outlets as I can find, and ingest news on a 24-hour basis. But I’ve never been the type of journalist who wants to grill congressmen or write about crime.
Karen Page has driven me to — well, maybe not want to do those things — but to feel like I can. Given how tough the market is for journalists (getting paid is apparently a thing of the past, even if you write for long-standing publications like L.A. Weekly), it can be tough even to look at inspiring journalists and writers that I follow and think, I can do that, too! But fictional characters have always had a big impact on me… which may or may not be good.
Say what you will about Karen Page, but her dogged dedication to getting a story right is so well done that I’ll go to bat for her forever.