Published Feb 01, 2003Never accuse Marvel of not striking while the iron is hot. Blade and Blade 2, Spiderman, X-man and now Daredevil, and with the Hulk and X-men 2 right around the corner, it seems like the failures of Captain America, The Punisher and the forgotten Fantastic Four project have all but been erased.
Still, there is too much of a geek thing and with so many superhero stories sharing the same origin themes powers discovered, parent (loved one, relative, etc.) offed, vengeance embarked upon, love found and lost, villains battled, moral compass established there's a distinct possibility of draining the well of public interest dry. But Daredevil manages to get another bucket of geeky goodness out of the genre, mainly because of the strength of the character and Ben Affleck's portrayal thereof.
Daredevil holds true to the current trend of Marvel hits, leaning heavily towards the origin story but tweaking the format ever so slightly. Affleck, who makes a believer out of his doubters who saw Pearl Harbour and Sum of All Fears, and rightfully questioned his leading man credentials, shines here as Matt Murdock (Daredevil), who was blinded by toxic waste (yeah, the toxic waste plot device is back, just like the '80s) as a youth but developed heightened senses and a kind of bat-like radar (geek-dar?) that allows him to kick ass. Forget the fact that most toxic waste accidents would cause some form of cancer and that Murdock should have been fighting the nest of tumours liquefying his brain and not crime, as this is a comic book adaptation after all. Life is relatively good for young Murdock and his new powers until his father, an ex-prizefighter turned hired goon turned good father/boxer on the comeback, is killed by his criminal associates for not throwing a fight, and thus the vigilante Daredevil is born.
Lawyer by day and fetish club-clad vigilante by day, Murdock doles out the justice the courts are unable to all the while straddling the line between good and evil and increasingly losing himself in the process. What makes Daredevil work is that despite his "powers," Daredevil is remarkably human, tortured and sympathetic, and despite the fact that he kicks ass, he is always covered with cuts, scars and bruises, can't hold a relationship together, is fallible and plagued with doubt. Alias's Jennifer Garner gives a good turn as Elektra, Murdock's love interest/martial arts equal, while Colin Farrell hams it up as Bullseye and Michael Clarke Duncan gives a subdued performance as the Kingpin, the lord of crime in New York and Murdock's nemesis but, as the title implies, everyone is second fiddle to Daredevil's search for vengeance and redemption.
And while Daredevil does have its flaws its way too familiar plot, the odd cgi-rendered fight/action scene that looks too cgi and its lack of innovation to the genre it is a stronger, darker and more realistic movie than Spiderman and should keep Marvel's movie domination going strong until the next tormented hero seeking redemption comic book adaptation is released.