Daredevil movie review – Ben Affleck film merits 2nd look

Daredevil movie is underrated

Daredevil has always been one Marvel Comics movie that’s needlessly underrated.  Fanboys look down on it because of some casting decisions that while aren’t perfect, are hardly deal breakers to appreciating the film. Granted, it pales in comparison to the post Iron Man Marvel Studios films, but the film fits in just fine with the Spider-Man and X-Men standard bearers for the time. 

Daredevil - Matt Murdock playground fight with Elektra

Ben Affleck took a large amount of bashing, but his portrayal of blind attorney Matt Murdock/vigilante Daredevil by night isn’t an issue. Affleck was fighting off the Gigli backlash at this point and he hadn’t fulled matured into the actor he’d evolve into during his second act in front of the cameras just yet, but he’s close.

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The film manages to (ironically considering Affleck’s latest superhero gig) avoid Batman comparisons by firmly establishing his support system of best friend and legal partner Foggy Nelson (Jon Favreau) and his love interest Elektra (Jennifer Garner). Of the few egregious missteps made, the switch to Elektra’s nationality and origin were some of the biggest.

That introduction playground fight scene may hold the top spot. Garner does action heroine better than a lot of her peers thanks to her time on Alias, but she wasn’t the best fit for the role. The intent to establish Elektra before giving her a spin-off film is telegraphed too much. Her subplot has more of an agenda than simply aiding to the main story.

Daredevil 2003 movie - Kingpin and Bullseye

Any good hero has an equally evil rival and in Daredevil’s case, that’s the mysterious crime overlord Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan) and Bullseye (Colin Farrell) — Kingpin’s main assassin who turn any object into a dangerous weapon be it a paperclip, playing card or peanut. Farrell is a blast and he’s the one character that’s a lot of fun whenever he’s on screen, so predictably, he’s the one with the least amount of screen time.

Daredevil - Bullseye kills Elektra

Duncan played the role just like most envisioned, but some thick-headed fans complain endlessly that Kingpin was white in the comics and shouldn’t be played by a black man who has the towering presence and menacing demeanor to pull off the character. Fanboys can be really frustrating some times.

Director/Screenwriter Mark Steven Johnson pulls double duty and his singular vision for the character misses some of what makes him special. The balancing act of lawyer vs. vigilante. In the film’s extended cut, more of the legal side of Matt is covered and despite a random cameo from Coolio, it works in showing another side than street fighter. The script could have used more moments to get the audience to relate and care more about Matt as the film is a fairly bare bones hero film with little to distinguish itself from the other more established characters. It’s a darker version of Spider-Man, but with none of the heart.

Daredevil - Kingpin vs Daredevil

At least Johnson handles the action scenes well with some satisfying fight scenes between Daredevil, Bullseye and Elektra. The final battle with Daredevil and Kingpin isn’t nearly as satisfying though.

Daredevil will make for a good reference for other comic book films in terms of not trying to cram 50-years plus of material into an hour and a half movie. Daredevil trying to end Kingpin’s reign in Hell’s Kitchen would have made for a movie all by itself but tossing in Bullseye and Elektra shortchanged all the characters.

While the lack of a costume for Bullseye and the ill-fitting casting of Garner brings it down a few notches for me from the height of comic book movie greatness, there’s a lot to like here and a comic film more people should give another chance.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10



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