Daredevil (2003)
May 3, 2024 9:14 PM - Subscribe

A man blinded by toxic waste which also enhanced his remaining senses fights crime as an acrobatic martial arts superhero.

Before the Netflix series, before the MCU proper, and before he became Batman (for a while), Ben Affleck starred as Matt Murdock, a blind attorney who fights crime at night as the titular superhero. Co-stars Jennifer Garner as Elektra (who would go on to star in her own sequel), Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson "Kingpin" Fisk, Colin Farrell as Bullseye, Joe Pantoliano as Ben Urich, and Jon Favreau as Foggy Nelson, before directing the first two Iron Man movies and co-starring as Happy Hogan.

Note: a director's cut came out and was generally better regarded than the initial theatrical release; I'm not sure if that's what's playing on Disney+ at the moment.
posted by Halloween Jack (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Theatrical cut is PG-13; Director's Cut is R.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:29 PM on May 3

I saw this in the theater, and I remember nothing about it besides the lobby.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:14 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]

To be a little more fair to it, I think Daredevil, as a comic, is also kind of forgettable. He's sort of SpiderMan, but not as visually interesting, and his villains tend to be "guys in suits." What Daredevil does have is a more developed set of supporting characters, and that's what gives any iteration (print or motion) it's life. Spiderman rises or falls on the villains and fights, Daredevil rises or falls on the interpersonal elements. Basically, you've got to have the right Foggy Nelson and the right Karen Page.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:24 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]

The only thing that stuck with me from this movie was the intro music for Fisk, "Lapdance" by N*E*R*D (with a pre-megafame Pharrell Williams)
posted by Gorgik at 12:08 PM on May 4

One thing worth savoring about this movie is Colin Farrell as Bullseye. Dud just loves killing! He killed a random dude on a plane with a peanut just for breathing too loud, plus the entire reason his feud with Daredevil becomes personal is summed as "he made me miss" -- that's pride in his work!
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 9:17 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

Also the soundtrack is a perfect time capsule of 2003 corporate alt-rock. I just watched the trailer from IMDB and it ended with:
Daredevil - The Album

The Calling
Drowning Pool feat. Rob Zombie

and introducing
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 9:22 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]

The only scene I remember liking is when Daredevil "sees" Elektra in the falling rain. The depiction of Daredevil's radar senses is the one thing a movie or show about this character has, potentially, that you couldn't find anywhere else; he's otherwise just a mash-up of Spider-Man and Batman.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:55 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]

He killed a random dude on a plane with a peanut just for breathing too loud

It was a racist old lady who wouldn't stop yammering, but yeah, Farrell had a lot of fun going over the top in that one.
posted by mediareport at 7:44 AM on May 5

Finished it last night and, as I remembered it from having seen it over twenty years ago, it's a very mixed bag. There were some interesting riffs on the basic idea in it; the idea that Murdock would have to sleep in a sensory deprivation tank and shotgun painkillers after a hard night of crimefighting, for example, and the bit where he could "see" Elektra in the rain was also very nice. But there were also bits that were odd or just dumbfounding. After establishing that his secret identity was solidly in place--even having Foggy lead him through a crowded courthouse corridor--Matt decides to duel Elektra in a playground crowded with kids in the middle of the day. (Setting that scene in a playground at night, with no kids around, would have been fine.) If Bullseye wanted to try to frame Daredevil for Elektra's dad's murder, he could have thrown the billy club at his windpipe and crushed it; instead, he throws it straight into his chest, as if it's a javelin or Bullseye has super-strength or something. And speaking of Bullseye, Farrell's shameless mugging is highly distracting; most of the acting is good, or at least good enough, but Farrell brings enough bad acting for everybody.

WRT GenjiandProust's comment above, the comic was indeed kind of a Spider-Man also-ran for many years; it really took Frank Miller--who really was something, at least in his early years, before his rampant misogyny and general xenophobia and fascism-friendliness ate him alive--to boost the character into one worth reading. Spider-Man's groove was really about horror-tinged mad science, with various mad scientists giving themselves or other people super-powers, often at the cost of the recipients' sanity; there was also some teen romance in the earlier years, with the perpetually-broke nerd being plagued with the attentions of a number of attractive young women. (As one is.) Miller smartly repositioned Daredevil as dealing with more mundane forms of urban crime, as well as some martial arts mysticism; his super-senses ended up owing more to Zen discipline and awareness than to getting toxic/radioactive waste in his eyes, and Miller stole the Kingpin from his status as a minor Spider-Man villain and made him act more like a mob boss, rarely getting his own hands dirty and acting through the likes of Bullseye, likewise elevated from minor supervillain status. Even before Miller took over writing the book, his approach to the art was distinctive and appealing; I bought his first issue off of a drugstore spinner rack, and it was immediately evident that this was someone worth following.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:23 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]

Would this be a good double feature with the Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern?
posted by rhizome at 1:12 PM on May 7

Ha! I wrote that up for FF as well, and pegged it as not "bad so much as aggressively mediocre," which isn't how I'd describe this; the closest similarity that I'd venture is that they both starred guys who really wanted to be those guys, but just weren't those guys.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:07 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]

Reynolds is incredibly insufferable as Green Lantern, but perfect as Deadpool, who is supposed to be insufferable. Affleck is just not really right for Daredevil or Batman, unfortunately.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:50 PM on May 9

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