Well, the new Daredevil series is finally out on Netflix, and it has officially blown everyone’s mind! While the series is getting praise heaped upon it, many are thankful that ther eis finally another adaptation besides the notorious 2003 film. But all this go tme thinking that this would be the perfect time for a look back on that very film. After all, is it really that bad?
Altough it’s experienced nothing but lambasting for the past 12 years, I’ve always felt like there’s more good stuff in Daredevil then people give it credit for. When I first saw the film, at the tender age of fifteen, I thought it was great. For years, I constantly defended it against any critics. Over the past decade, however, I have taken note of it’s major flaws, and fully admit to the major ways that it did not succeed in being an adequate portrayal of the character.
That being said, I still have a much brighter outlook on it than most people do, and I think the general populace has been way too hard on it. After my entire history of watching movies, I have ultimately come to the conclusion that it’s not always about good movies and bad movies. Sometimes it’s about good moments and bad moments. Daredevil has plenty of both.
There are two real death-blow failings that mar this film beyond forgiveness. One of them, people have been talking about since the film came out. The other I am always surprised how little it is on people’s lips.
1) Daredevil Murdering People – Yes, this one is fairly dubious. For a character who’s moral code of not taking human life has been a major source of drama for so long, this turned many major fans away less than a half-hour into the film. Not exactly something that should be a writer’s goal.
2) Jennifer Garner as Elektra – This is a major contender for the most inappropriate casting in the history of comic book movies thus far, yet it is the complaint I hear voiced the least. It is nothing against Jennifer Garner, who is a fine actress, but Elektra is a character with a very distinct look, and one that is important to get right. It’s fairly shocking to see the exotic, raven-haired Greek beauty be played with an American accent by someone who couldn't look less like the part.
These are, of course, many other smaller flaws throughout the film. For instance, there’s some truly ludicrous fight scenes. The scene on the playground got fairly stupid after a while. Full-on backflips on a seesaw? Even in the better fights, there will so often pop up a rubber-looking CGI monstrosity that puts a damper on an otherwise good scene. But I digress. Even these do not negate the entire movie’s quality. It is really the above two points that make it a bad movie, or at least, a bad Daredevil movie.
The first of these two flaws is the one that merits the most discussion. As stated, for years, I actually defended it. “It’s about how he learns to not kill," I would tell anyone who listened. The film tries to tell a story about a man slipping into darkness, who has to turn himself around to become a true hero. In the end, he is the non-murderous character we all love.
Then one day I think I just turned around and said to myself “Wait, ‘that’s how he learns not to kill?’ That’s bull****!”
With those two blights on record, I can’t say I can honestly blame any Daredevil fan for hating this movie.
However, I cannot help but feel that there are those make the film out to be so much worse in their heads. People make it out to be the worst thing since Howard the Duck! I can't help but think that this has to do with the film coming out right around the time of Gigli, Bennifer, and the start of Affleck's 9-year career slump. It's like there is an actual hype around it's badness that colors interpretation. It’s like looking at the movie through hate-goggles. So I’d like to next move into what I found good about the movie.
1. The other casting
Yes, I’m going to say this. No, really, I am. I never saw any problem with Ben Affleck as Daredevil.
Put the gun down. Put it down! Just listen. I did, I liked Affleck. Perhaps there’s something truly terrible about this performance that I’m just not seeing here. But there are a lot worse casting decisions out there, and I thought he embodied the tortured personal of Matt Murdock quite well.
Then we have Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin. I remember the change of race as an issue at the time, but let’s face it, the color of his skin is not the first thing you notice. Not only are there no major actors out there who can so perfectly fit Wilson Fisk’s body type, who could have honestly pulled off his last fight scene, but Duncan, may he rest in peace, was also just a darn good actor.
Then there's Colin Farrell. It’s odd to think that this was so many people's introduction to him. It's still a terrifically fun performance to watch, almost as fun as Farrell visibly had playing it. I’m honestly not sure of who could have done a better job. (but there's a good chance we'll find out next season on Netflix)
2. The Tone
As I said, sometimes it’s not about a good or bad film, but about good or bad moments. And no matter what else this film has that is bad, there are moments in it that I will always be able to re-watch on DVD.
One of the major high-marks of the film was the “Shadow World” that they innovated, to show us how Matt Murdock sees. This was a downright terrific invention, and one I think even the film’s sharp critics have to enjoy.
That aside, many of the fight scenes, at least for me, are The first of these begins when Matt first transforms into Daredevil. As Daredevil suits up, jumps off the building, and does some high-flying stunts over Hell’s Kitchen, all to a definitive score by Graeme Revell. This segues into the first major fight scene in the bar also carries exactly the right feel. In fact, many of the fight scenes in the film, including the aforementioned final confrontation with Kingpin, do a fair job of capturing the tone of the Daredevil comics.
In fact, the ending has remained one of my favorite superhero-movie-endings ever. A downright iconic monologue laid over by Fuel’s Won’t Back Down, ending on a closing shot of the hero taken right from the comics (as was the opening image).
And here is the part of the article where I admit that it was actually this movie that made me a Daredevil fan. This is probably why I defended even it’s terrible aspects for so long. Nevertheless, I will repeat it one more time: It’s about good and bad moments. And it’s the good ones that, twelve years later, I still remember.
But enough of that, we have a NEW, and so beloved version of Daredevil. So, stay tuned as next time I will discuss the highs and lows of this latest incarnation of the Man Without Fear