Underrated Comic Book Movies
The newest episode of the Laser Time podcast network’s “Cape Crisis” comic book podcast just made me feel really old. Their topic of discussion was the 2003 Ben Affleck starring Daredevil, which as of this past Valentine’s Day is a decade old. Instantly I started to reflect on where I was when that film came out. To give you an idea, I was currently in Driver’s Ed when I saw the film with my dad and brother. In fact, if memory serves, I probably drove them all to the movie so I could get the driving practice in. Not only did this make me feel incredibly old, but it also made me realize that after thinking about it, Daredevil isn’t really all that bad. Sure, there are some ridiculously cartoony moments (like the playground sparring match between Matt Murdock and Elektra), but I really like Michael Clark Duncan’s Kingpin and Colin Farrell’s Bullseye. Hell, to be completely honest, I don’t mind Affleck as Daredevil either.
Perhaps it’s because there’s been a huge amount of comic book movies since ol’ hornhead hit the silver screen that my feelings towards the film have changed. Daredevil was one of the first comic book movies, right on the heels of Singer’s first X-Men film and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. While it can be argued that it was the first one to fail with fans, I think it should also be noted that it’s not as bad as it’s perceived to be, especially when you compare it to the cinematic outings that came after it, like Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, and *shudder* Jonah Hex. Yeah, it’s not great, and the soundtrack is pretty god awful, but there’s a lot of cool moments in the film, and for the first time it made me understand Daredevil’s powers. Plus, I thought a lot of the fight scenes were well done and pretty, the exception being the aforemented goofy playground fight with matt Murdock and Elektra.
Mark Stephen Johnson’s film (which was his first and best film) easily sits with other underrated comic book movies like Constantine, The Rocketeer, and Spawn. Sure, a lot of these take liberties with the source material (Constantine especially), but these films really don’t deserve the hate that they get. Setting up Elektra for her own (terrible) movie was probably it’s biggest offense, as it cuts out a really interesting subplot where Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson have to defend a man whom Murdock knows is guilty. Thankfully, this sequence was re-inserted into the director’s cut DVD, which is required viewing for haters of the film. If you watch that and can’t at least see that it’s an improvement over the theatrical cut, then the movie’s not for you.
Marvel recently got the film rights to Daredevil back from Fox, and it’s my hope that they can spin him into his own successful franchise, or even take him to the TV screen. If Arrow can be a monster hit, then there’s no reason why Daredevil can’t be. Half the shows on television are already law dramas, why not make one stand out and have the lawyer also fight crime? If not then, you could have Matt Murdock show up on S.H.I.E.L.D. as a character’s lawyer, or even in one of the cinematic outings. How awesome would it be to have Banner hulk out and be put on trial, and Murdock walks in as his defense lawyer? While I admit I’m new to the Daredevil bandwagon (I only just read the Bendis and Brubaker runs this year), he’s a character that deserves a bigger spotlight, and sure, a better movie. But give the old one a spin, and compare it to some of the terrible movies I mentioned earlier. Maybe you’ll see that you were a little too hard on it when you first saw it.