We can all agree that we’d rather think of Ben Affleck as Batman than Daredevil. This was the movie that made Ben Affleck swear to never play another superhero again until thirteen years later he made the switch from Marvel to the DC Cinematic Universe in 2016.
Daredevil is not an easy character to adapt, he’s one of the most complex superheroes in the Marvel universe, having gone through many different iterations. Thankfully, the Netflix adaptation in 2015 was a success before it fell prey to Disney. But you can’t make a perfect retelling without making mistakes – and Mark Steven Johnson’s Daredevil is one of them.
How to Stream or Download Daredevil (2003)
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The Movie Review
As a kid, Matt Murdock was doused in toxic chemicals during a terrible accident, blinding him for the rest of his life. While he lives in total darkness, he also receives heightened senses. Matt grows up to be a New York City lawyer, together with his best friend Foggy. At night, he’s “The Man Without Fear,” a masked vigilante.
After the death of his father, Jack Murdock, Matt swears to protect the weak and to right wrongs both in court and the streets. In Hell’s Kitchen, he also fights the city’s biggest crime lord – Kingpin and his newest recruit, the lunatic assassin Bullseye, after a chance meeting with the fierce Greek warrior Elektra.
Daredevil is a comic-book movie made by writer-director Mark Steven Johnson, who is a fan, for fans. The more you know about the superhero’s past and the world of comics in general, the more you’ll enjoy this adaptation, which draws heavily from the source material. Johnson’s film focuses on key events in the hero’s timeline, vividly conveying Matt’s experience of being able to detect a tiny drop in temperature before it begins to rain or hear a man’s heartbeat jump when he lies. For an origin story film, it’s actually effective.
But before Daredevil, Johnson has only directed one film and written five movies, and all of them were comedy films. It ineffectively made him the worst choice for Daredevil, and his lack of experience is obvious in it.
The thing I disliked in the film is that they made Daredevil so unbelievable as a superhero. There is one scene where Matt technically stalks and harasses Elektra during their first encounter, where they suddenly engage in a flirty kung fu battle. It doesn’t help that they’re fighting on a playground, which is extremely underwhelming for a fight scene between the couple, but it’s even worse when Matt makes no effort hiding his identity: a blind guy doing backflips casually in public?
It won’t take long before someone figures out he’s Daredevil.
This scene had me in tears, it’s the equivalent of the basketball scene in Catwoman. And for a movie about a blind guy, it’s fitting that it’s visually unpleasant. There are a lot of close-ups of people’s faces, and heavily saturated, tilted, whirling camera movements.
The CGI is also bad, especially Daredevil’s extrasensory perception. It’s all wavy and blue. It doesn’t appear well on the screen if it’s intended to offer him better visual abilities. Because of the effort at a darker visual style without really being darker, the production value appears to be lower. As a blind man, Ben Affleck’s acting abilities are severely limited. The choreography of the fight scenes isn’t great too.
On the other hand, I did like the many references this film made to the original. It’s not an inaccurate comic book movie, except for their decision to cut out Stick – Matt’s blind martial arts trainer. If Johnson stuck to writing the movie, it probably would’ve been a good one. However, Jennifer Garner had a nice presence in the film and was a great actress.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Daredevil had good intentions, but it just didn’t translate well on screen. It never touches on the dark noir feel that the comics had, and it overall felt like a comedy film. To some, that might be right up their alley. But for Daredevil fans, they would be disappointed. Daredevil is simply a bad superhero movie, though I would definitely rewatch it for laughs.