On the show Daredevil, various characters associated with the group known as the Hand have demonstrated certain skills of concealment, namely

the ability to hide from Daredevil's enhanced senses.

However, apparently Daredevil can still

sense the location of their swords. However, they are apparently not invisible, since Elektra can see them.

Matt has various enhanced senses, such the ability to hear very faint sounds or sense air currents, all of which help him build a reasonably accurate picture of the location of his enemies. So

  • What senses does Daredevil normally use to perceive opponents?
  • What senses does Daredevil use to detect the location of the ninjas' swords (but not, say, their clothing)?

And of course,

  • How do the assassins hide from these senses in a way that is consistent with Daredevil being able to perceive the location of most objects?

  • 2
    He listens to their heartbeat, which they can hide appearantly.
    – DLE
    Mar 22, 2016 at 8:27
  • 1
    Yes, they did state that in the show. However, he can obviously perceive stationary objects (which lack heartbeats) as well in some fashion.
    – Adamant
    Mar 22, 2016 at 8:30
  • This is kinda explained here: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/122675/…
    – DLE
    Mar 22, 2016 at 8:34
  • Hmm, so I suppose that this 'radar' might explain how he is able to sense stationary objects. I guess the ninjas could hide from radar just as well. It just makes it a little weird that he didn't just say that. Is that 'radar' canon in the TV series? Also, why would the immunity to radar not include their swords? Too far outside of the AoE?
    – Adamant
    Mar 22, 2016 at 8:43
  • I was under the impression that Matt could sense changes in air pressure and that's how he could find inanimate objects or know there was a bullet hole in a wall. If this is the case, even if the ninjas had no odor and made no noise, he should still be able to tell there is SOMETHING I'm the shape of a human near him. They may be able to change their body to hide, but I don't think they can change the air pressure around them... Unless... Are they all air benders?! I've figured it out! Lol
    – user63673
    Mar 23, 2016 at 19:31

3 Answers 3


Daredevil's powers are derived from his enhanced senses. He can hear, smell, taste, and feel things more accurately than any regular human. But he can't see.

This allows him to do things like listen to conversations through walls, to hear the sound of a fist coming through the air, and to track heartbeats.

The ninjas counteract these enhanced senses by being VERY quiet.

Daredevil can't track the ninjas because they make no noise while fighting. Daredevil mentions that they even have the ability to block their heartbeats. It's not explained exactly how they do this- maybe some special ninja clothes, or through the power of meditation.

The only noise the ninjas make is when they use their swords. Daredevil can hear the swords slicing through the air, and he is able to fight them that way.

But the ninjas figure this out and stop using their swords, so Daredevil is mostly blind while fighting them. This makes them extremely dangerous to Daredevil. But then:

Daredevil starts tracking their breath instead. Although the ninjas hold their breath during a fight, they eventually have to breathe. So Daredevil waits for that to happen, and he's able to fight them again.

Edit: I think it's an oversimplification to call Daredevil's ability a type of sonar or echolocation. Sonar/echolocation requires the listener/viewer to emit a sound (radar uses radio waves instead of sound), which bounces off the object being "viewed".

For the most part, Daredevil isn't emitting any sound that then bounces off an object. He is just listening to the noises the objects make, and he can hear them better than we can. So he can hear an object falling through the air because of the sound it makes against the air itself. That's not echolocation or sonar.

Of course, Daredevil could use echolocation. Human echolocation is a real skill that real people use. So maybe he listens to the sound of his footsteps bouncing off of the environment, but that isn't how his powers are primarily portrayed in the show.

But even if he is using echolocation, the point stands that the ninjas are somehow blocking that ability. It isn't exactly explained how they're doing that in the show, but it is explained how Matt defeats them.

  • 1
    This is the best answer we have, as far as I can tell. It's never explained why Matt can sense the location of inanimate objects in minute detail (he can sense the sword marks on the plaster on Karen's drywall!) but can't sense a stationary human being standing right next to him.
    – KutuluMike
    Mar 22, 2016 at 17:38
  • 1
    @Mike Thanks, and yep, exactly. I would guess that the ninjas aren't exactly stationary, because even then Matt can hear heartbeats, rustling of clothes, whatever. The ninjas are going out of their way to be actively quiet (and we're not talking just walking on tip-toes like a normal person might, since the ninjas can somehow block their heartbeats and hold their breath while fighting). They are doing something to conceal their noises, whereas the cut on the wall isn't actively concealing itself. But yeah, they never explain it in detail, which is probably for the best! Mar 22, 2016 at 18:07
  • 1
    I have a guess -- that it has something to do with their outfits; remember that the Hand has been fighting against Stick, who is also blind with heightened senses, for a long time. Presumably they've developed ways to deal with him.
    – KutuluMike
    Mar 22, 2016 at 18:25
  • @Mike I thought about that too. Then again if that's the case, why are they still using swords at all? I also think it might have something to do with the hand being immortal or some version of undead- maybe that means they can slow or suppress their bodily functions to some extent? But that's getting into conjecture-land. Mar 22, 2016 at 18:29
  • 1
    I also don't think Stick's senses are anywhere near as good as Matt's, who is artificially enhanced; my guess is the Hand are used to fighting Stick but had to adapt a bit better to Daredevil.
    – KutuluMike
    Mar 22, 2016 at 18:32

TLDR; Daredevil's senses don't really work like sonar - a ninja trained to mask their heartbeat and movements could temporarily hide from him.

Daredevil is indeed blind, but his other senses are enhanced to superhuman levels. This is a result of the accident that took his vision, but it's also the result of years of training & honing those senses. Daredevil can track a person by their heartbeat, by their smell, by the subtle vibrations of air they cause when they move. However, the ninjas of The Hand have ways to defeat all of these tells.

First of all, it's important to understand that Daredevil does not use "sonar" as depicted in the movie starring Ben Affleck, which also seems to have influenced the first season of Daredevil. The second season did a much better job of portraying his ability, which is described in the comics (by Wolverine, no less) as having better senses than anyone on the planet:

enter image description here

Granted, the comics have been inconsistent on this topic as well, with the "radar sense" being initially described as using his other senses to paint a 3D picture of his surroundings. Later artists/writers would describe it as something akin to echolocation... like a bat. The following question and its answers discusses Daredevil's abilities in more detail, but suffice to say he basically has super senses like Wolverine, but moreso.

How true to the comics are Matt Murdock's powers in the 2015 Daredevil TV show?

That said, The Hand ninjas are a bit of a problem for both Daredevil AND Wolverine. After all, The Hand is not just a clan of ninjas - they're a supernatural cult who worship demons. Upon successful completion of their initiation rites, a Hand ninja is granted several supernatural abilities. Chief among these is a state of near-undeath. In essence, a Hand ninja ceases to be human and becomes something... else. This is generally portrayed in the comics as sickly-looking skin, full white eyes, black blood, and no audible heartbeat.

enter image description here

Even those characters who were trained by The Hand - but have not achieved the near-undead state - have the ability to "mask" their heartbeat through a combination of meditation and mind-over-matter. They also have a level of control over their bodies that allows them to move in absolute silence. Such individuals have even been able to sneak up on Wolverine on several occasions:

enter image description here

The portrayal of The Hand in Season 2 does not really address the supernatural aspects of the ninjas, with Elektra simply stating that they can hide their heartbeats. Daredevil must instead rely on the one thing they can't hide - their exhalations. After all, even the Hand ninjas of the comics still need to breathe. At least, they do until Daredevil & Elektra get done with 'em.

  • 1
    While you did not get the Nod, the information in your answer confirms what is mostly written about as the means the Hand avoid detection, using training, skills and magic. The Hand are no ordinary ninjas but nearly magical assassins on the border of life and death. Aug 1, 2016 at 19:32

Daredevil had some sort of sonar, similar to bats.

He's also capable to hear the heartbeat of an enemy. When someone is approaching to him he just detects it's heartbeat from quite afar, once he gets into action and fights, he focuses in the sonar, as it's what help's him to know the position, distance and movement of an attacker.

Hand ninjas on the show only can get near him relatively unaware as he cannot "hear" them, but, once they are in an environment near enough to be detected by his sonar, he can "see" them and fight them without problems (although we will have problems to detect if they get anxious, nervous or just they are dead or faking, as all of that is perceived by his hearing).

Put in plain words: His sonar senses replaces his sight. Sonar doesn't go through walls. All he perceive outside "sight" range is perceived by his extremely acute hearing, however, fighting, throwing and physical movement is perceived by the sonar in a way pretty similar as anyone sees.

EDIT: Ok, yesterday I've finally seen episode 12, and finally see the scene where he has trouble fighting a pack of ninjas. In this scene he seems to perceive de position of the enemy, but not it's movement or attack direction. Or at least he has serious trouble with it. Until Stick told him to focus on the swords. From them he was capable to fight them.

I have no info to know how they bypass his "sight", but seems that the sound of swords slicing through the air help him detecting again the direction of attacks, and from this point he again could locate distance and position accurately enough to fight them.

  • A "radar similar to bats" would be echolocation or sonar. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echolocation
    – Moogle
    Mar 22, 2016 at 11:50
  • Exactly... it's more a sonar than a radar, afaik, as what he perceives is the rebound of sound against objects.
    – Bardo
    Mar 22, 2016 at 11:55
  • I remember the sonar was in the movie with Ben Affleck, and this is probably from the comics (that I have never read) but is it mentioned in the TV show?
    – Taladris
    Mar 22, 2016 at 13:31
  • In the first season I think there were a couple of brief scenes when Matt is still a boy where his "inner vision" is briefly shown. It isn't furtherly explained, but also I don't expect this show to fall apart from canon, specially in anything so important as the nature of main character powers.
    – Bardo
    Mar 22, 2016 at 13:36
  • I don't think this is exactly correct. Daredevil definitely had problems fighting the ninjas after they stopped using swords. They make no noise while fighting, which makes them extremely dangerous to Daredevil because he can't track them at all. Mar 22, 2016 at 14:55

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