For some reason Ms. Impossible had gotten it in her head that she wanted to watch the Jennifer Garner starring Elektra movie. I’m not sure why. My guess is that she saw at our local Costco the 4 pack of movies that includes Elektra plus Daredevil and the two solo Wolverine movies, and it stuck in her mind. I suggested that she should probably watch Daredevil first. And probably because she likes Daredevil on Netflix, she agreed.
So unlike many tonight, I re-watched the 2003 Ben Affleck starring Daredevil movie.
I wanted to give it a fair shake and for it to stand on it’s own, so into a separate corner of my mind I placed the obviously superior Netflix Daredevil. As well I set aside Daredevil’s appearance in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk TV movie, because the less thought about that the better.
After watching it, the question becomes (as the title already asks) “Was Affleck’s Daredevil Really That Bad?” Sadly, yes.
It was 2003, so you can cut the film some slack, but not much. That same year Fox/Marvel also released the stellar X2: X-Men United. And recent years had seen the release of the first X-Men movie, Spider-Man and Blade. So quality super hero movies had started to proliferate the theaters. And the film featured no shortage of star power. Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau and Joe Pantoliano, who many would not know the name of but was instantly recognizable thanks to The Matrix.
The film was eyerollingly bad. We watched the Director’s Cut, which I had heard over the years was a much better version of the movie. If this was the good version, I really don’t want to revisit the theatrical cut. Looking at a list of differences between the two versions, one good thing did come from it. Coolio and Jon Favreau’s hug fest near the end was one of the few enjoyable sequences.
Unfortunately, it also adds to one of my least favorite aspects of this version, and that is kid Matt Murdock’s accident and gaining his “powers”. They really clobber you over the head with it. I mean, how many times can they show those bio-hazard containers before Matt has his eyes washed with them? And after the accident he is almost instantly “Daredevil” and at age 12 begins to train himself. No Stick, no ninjas, no anything. Just a blind kid running around on rooftops.
That said, the Director’s Cut does appear to be a superior version, for what it is worth.
But I don’t think there is any saving poor DD here. The directing is bad, the fight choreography is bad, the stunt work is bad, the CGI is horrible (CGI fight scenes that are entirely obvious are one of my biggest pet peeves). While the acting talent is there, Garner surprisingly annoyed me a bit and Farrell’s Bullseye might be the worst villain to ever appear in a super hero movie. Well, maybe except for this guy:
Were there any redeeming qualities? Well, as a comic fan, I did like all the character names that referenced defining Daredevil writers and artists. Even Kevin Smith’s little cameo has comic roots as he wrote the first arc of the Marvel Knights comic series that breathed new life into DD.
I thought they did a really great job of showing Matt’s “radar sense” and capturing the overwhelming noise that he has to deal with on a regular basis. The sound deprivation tank to allow him to sleep is a great touch. His costume works and is even more classic DD than the Netflix version.
And with that I think I will let the Netflix DD out of it’s exile and push this experience back into the nether regions of my brain. Until the day soon when I have to re-watch that Elektra movie. Dang…
Oh, and if curious, I give DD 5 out of 10 surprisingly Affleck is a better Batman.