My friend and I have gotten into a rather passionate debate about whether Karen Paige's monologue at the end of season two of Daredevil was written in a grammatically correct fashion.
On screen, we can see that her monologue opens with the sentence:
What is it, to be a hero?
I contend, with no academic backing whatsoever, that this is a perfectly valid grammatical construction. In fact I even contend that "To be a hero, what is it?" would be grammatically correct as well, despite being incredibly stilted.
On an intuitive level, I feel 'To be a hero' is what 'it' refers to, and Karen Paige's rendering of this sentence is a re-ordering of "To be a hero, what is it?" that places the definition of the pronoun 'it' after the clause that employs it.
My friend, on the other hand, points out that none of the common grammar guides surrounding commas actually contain rules that cover this construction, and furthermore feels from his intuition that the sentence is confusing because it sounds as though it could be interpreted as Karen Paige asking someone named 'to be a hero' the question 'what is it.'
My friend feels strongly that the, correct way to write this sentence is without the comma: 'What is it to be a hero', however I object to this, because in my mind, it changes the emphasis of the sentence.
My opinion is that with the comma, because the sentence is in a reverse order, extra emphasis is placed on "What is it", whereas in my friend's version the emphasis is on "to be a hero". My friend doesn't feel this is the case.