Movie Hype
New Releases, Oscar-Winners and Obscure Movies!
Daredevil (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition) (2003)

Action & Adventure and Art House & International movie directed by Mark Steven Johnson

< read all 9 reviews

Justice is not this blind: Darevil as a drug-addicted killer

  • May 26, 2012

The comic book Daredevil once saved a man from being hit by an oncoming truck. The movie Daredevil leaves a man to die under an oncoming subway train, making innocent victims out of both the dead man and the subway car driver who must live with the traumatic memory of having crushed someone to death.

Simply, the would-be hero of Daredevil (2003) is no one to root for.

The story is tangential to the movie.
This revealing re-cap is tangential to the review.

Daredevil (Ben Affleck) is a costumed crimefighter in the tradition of Zorro, Batman and The Green Hornet. During the day he is defense attorney Matt Murdock and at night he swings over the rooftops of lower Manhattan on a string he shoots out of the billy club he uses as a weapon. One day Murdock meets Elektra (Jennifer Garner), a beautiful woman who is as exceptionally acrobatic as he is, and he is smitten. She falls for him too, but not at first.

There is in New York City a criminal mastermind named The Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan) whose empire is threatened when his partner wants out. So The Kingpin has the man killed. For this he hires Bullseye (Colin Ferrell) , an assassin who can throw any object with lethal precision. Bullseye kills the partner, whose daughter is Elektra. She thinks briefly that Daredevil killed her father and so she sets out to kill Daredevil.

She changes her mind when she learns that Daredevil did not kill her father. Then Bullseye kills Elektra and Daredevil has to stop him.


A movie about heroics that does not have a hero is flawed beyond redemption. It would be even if did not suffer Daredevil's many other faults. Writer Brian Helgeland (whose Oscar-winning L.A. Confidential screenplay is as masterful as his Daredevil script is muddled) and director Mark Stephen Johnson start piling up those flaws before the moment they have their title character take gleeful pleasure in causing the death of a man who is legally innocent.

They start by recapping Daredevil's origin, but in a way that differs significantly from that presented in the comic book series that has continued since its debut in 1964. The difference paves the way for the plot developments that make it clear the screen Daredevil is no hero.

In Marvel Comics' Daredevil books, the boy who would grow up to be Daredevil is a hero from the start. Young Matt Murdock saves a man's life by risking his own to push him out of the way of a speeding truck. Murdock's selflessness costs him his sight when a canister falls off the truck and strikes him in the face. The radioactive material in the canister blinds Murdock, but it also miraculously enhances his other senses and gives him a kind of radar sense that substitutes for vision.

In the movie adaptation, Murdock is blinded instead by a pointless accident. Murdock does not behave heroically until after he gets the superpowers. The difference between the comic books' inherent heroism and the movie's grafted-on version leads to the point at which Daredevil allows a man to be flattened to death on subway tracks.

In the comic book, Murdock would have again risked his life to save the guy. If he failed, he would have agonized over it. He would have sought solace and understanding in the powerful religious faith that is an intrinsic part of the comic book character but merely a backdrop in the movie. Daredevil in the movie chortles over the death he has caused and spits out the kind of lame one-liner that screenwriting committees usually churn out for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This is not to suggest that the movie fails because it is not faithful to its source material. Screenwriting demands that liberties be taken, usually to make the work short enough for a movie. A talented screenwriter can make drastic changes and still remain faithful to the spirit of the original story. Brian Helgeland is a talented writer, but he has failed here.

A writer who adapts something to the screen says implicitly, "Trust me. It has to be different, but I'll change it in ways that make sense." Helgeland betrays our trust by not having his Daredevil reflect on his actions and then try to act more ethically in the future. The movie Daredevil does do things differently the next time he has the opportunity to kill someone, but not because the story changed him enough to make the difference logical.

At the movie's climax, he has the chief villain on his knees and crippled but he does not strike a killing blow. If Daredevil had matured since he deliberately caused the death of the guy on the subway tracks, this would reflect growth and strength of character. Instead, it reflects only a corporate decision by Marvel Comics to keep the villain around for a sequel.


Daredevil is not a drug addict.
In the books, he takes the pain from his battle injuries and channels it into his fights for justice. In the movie, he takes comfort from a medicine chest packed with powerful narcotics.

Matt Murdock is a man of profound religious conviction. In the books, he continually assesses his actions to make them conform to the teachings of his Catholic faith. In the movie, Catholicism is merely a prop and he sneers contemptuously at his priest as he disregards his words.

Elektra is smart. In the books, she excels academically and is able to instantly assess and adapt to changing conditions during her fights. In the movie, she can't tell that Matt Murdock is Daredevil even though the blind guy repeatedly does the same kind of uniquely choreographed acrobatics as the fearless hero.

Elektra is tough. In the books, she triumphs over armies of assassins and Bullseye must invest long and concerted effort into trying to kill her. In the movie, Bullseye polishes her off in seconds. Elektra has bested a healthy Daredevil twice but she falls to an adversary that the seriously wounded Daredevil is then able to defeat. It is no coincidence that the woman fails where the man succeeds.

Bullseye is tough. In the comic books, he holds his own against Daredevil repeatedly. In the movie, he can't do it once even though Daredevil has been wounded seriously and Bullseye has figured out the hero's Achille's heel.

Matt Murdock can feel. In the books, his sense of touch is so acute he can read a newspaper from the more-subtle-than-Braille impressions left by the ink. In the movie, he needs to have someone sort his paper money into plastic bags so he doesn't get confused.

Daredevil wears real red. In the books, the vividness of his costume gives it a hellish glow even in the darkest shadows. In the movie, the dull red of his costume's leather looks black most of the time.

Matt Murdock is a good defense attorney. In the books, he reveres the law and strives to keep his vigilante activities within the law's restrictions. In the movie, he acts like a prosecutor instead of a defense attorney, loses his only case and is so petulantly upset about his failure (not the justice system's) that he causes the death of the man who is legally innocent and then laughs about it.

The writers respect their readers. In the comics, we get striking visual imagery and coherent storytelling. In the movie, we get jumpy editing and loud sound effects and music that are intended to distract from the incoherent storytelling.


Matt Murdock sleeps in an isolation tank.
This is an elegant way for a man with heightened senses to gain peace and the movie is atypically subtle in presenting it.

Matt Murdock can see in the rain. The precipitation gives dimension to the flatness of his radar vision. This nifty visual effect allows for the movie's only other subtle moment: When Elektra wants to shut him out, she holds up an umbrella.
Justice is not this blind: Darevil as a drug-addicted killer Justice is not this blind: Darevil as a drug-addicted killer Justice is not this blind: Darevil as a drug-addicted killer

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
May 26, 2012
what a cool way to review a film! I am very impressed and I agree with what you've pointed out. I wanted to like this one, but there was just something missing. The director's cut was better though.
More Daredevil (2003) reviews
review by . June 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Superhero movies have become one of the highest-grossing genres in the moviemaking business and for good reason. They provide fantastic escapism and bring the fantasies from the pages of comics to life. One such film was the 2003 adaptation of Marvel Comic's character Daredevil.    Now, I'm sure I'll take some heat for this from fans of the comic, but I've never really enjoyed the Daredevil comics all that much; a red-horned wearing Stan Lee/Marvel rebuttal to DC's Batman. This …
review by . December 30, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
The Daredevil delviers blind justice ....
This film for me  was not a favorite of mine until I hit about the age of  fifteen. Seeing as  before that I could never grasp the idea of a blind guy kicking  some serious criminal  butt. But now that I'm much older and have  read up on daredevil(the comics and anything else I can find on him.)  He is  a favorite  of mine as well as the movie.            Daredevil  is dark,  gloomy, smart , intense and  …
review by . April 29, 2009
This well-cast movie packs a lot of story into one film.  I remember growing up that Daredevil was always different than other comics after all what other hero was sightless?  Also, the artwork of Gene Colon was much more like the artwork of the Dark Knight versions of Batman that come out in the mid-80's.  The movie had the same feel.  It was a heck of a lot better than the Val Kilmer/George Clooney Batman films but nowhere near the Spiderman movie.   As in the comic, Matt …
review by . October 18, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
I really didn't think I was going to like DAREDEVIL all that much. I'm not a fan of Ben Affleck and when I heard he had been cast as the vengeful Matthew Murdock, I thought "Well, the movie is doomed." Fortunately, this is one time where Affleck rises to his potential and adds to a film's value instead of decreasing it.      Matt Murdock (Affleck) is a powerful lawyer who has given up all opportunities to make a fortune in corporate law and instead has returned …
review by . February 05, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
This well-cast movie packs a lot of story into one film. I remember growing up that Daredevil was always different than other comics after all what other hero was sightless? Also, the artwork of Gene Colon was much more like the artwork of the Dark Knight versions of Batman that come out in the mid-80's. The movie had the same feel. It was a heck of a lot better than the Val Kilmer/George Clooney Batman films but nowhere near the Spiderman movie.As in the comic, Matt Murdock grew up in Hell's Kitchen …
review by . August 05, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
"Daredevil" has always been one of my favorite Marvel characters. It truly was a surprise to me when I first learned that a film was actually going to be made about him. He teamed up with Lou Ferrigno's "Hulk" when that TV series was used to crank out a few TV movies, but that particular flick was wretched. It did no justice to the "Daredevil" character.  This "Daredevil," however, stays fairly true to the comic book, although I felt the story dragged somewhat. The worst part of the movie …
review by . July 07, 2003
An awful lot of people spit blood. Even the hero wrenches a bloody loose tooth from his mouth after one bout of fisticuffs. Daredevil is an orthodontist's dream.     But for fans of the comic book, Daredevil is more of a nightmare. Conceived initially as an adult flick, the R rating was trimmed to PG-13 before hitting theaters -- but still, the movie that remains is darker and more brutal than I expected from the optimistic Marvel hero.     As is expected …
About the reviewer

Ranked #72
Member Since: Mar 17, 2012
Last Login: Jun 22, 2012 03:59 AM UTC
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie


Darker than its popular comic-book predecessorSpider-Man, the $80 million extravaganzaDaredevilwas packaged for maximum global appeal, its juvenile plot beginning when 12-year-old Matt Murdock is accidentally blinded shortly before his father is murdered. Later an adult attorney in New York's Hell's Kitchen, Murdock (Ben Affleck) uses his remaining, superenhanced senses to battle crime as Daredevil, the masked and vengeful "man without fear," pitted against dominant criminal Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan) and the psychotic Bullseye (Colin Farrell), who can turn almost anything into a deadly projectile. Daredevil is well matched with the dynamic Elektra (Jennifer Garner), but their teaming is as shallow as the movie itself, which is peppered with Marvel trivia and cameo appearances (creator Stan Lee,Clerksdirector andDaredevildevotee Kevin Smith) and enough computer-assisted stuntwork to give Spidey a run for his money. This is Hollywood product at its most lavishly vacuous; die-hard fans will argue its merits while its red-leathered hero swoops and zooms toward a sequel.--Jeff Shannon
view wiki


Genre: Action, Adventure, Foreign
Screen Writer: Mark Steven Johnson
DVD Release Date: July 29, 2003
Runtime: 103 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
First to Review
© 2015, LLC All Rights Reserved - Relevant reviews by real people.
Movie Hype is part of the Network - Get this on your site
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since