No matter if they are a dyed-in-the-wall Hero, or a murky anti-hero, the inspirational rise to greatness is a good part of what makes a comic book origin story so stirring. Whether it be overcoming their struggles, or their ability to go above and beyond in the face of peril. In 2003, the adventures of prominent blind lawyer and capable vigilante certainly helped audiences wake up to a new era of Marvel anti-heroes, with the likes of Daredevil.
After being blinded from an early age, gifted lawyer Matt Murdock has a stellar reputation, using his heightened senses in the courtroom, and in the street, he takes on those who slip through the cracks of justice, his social life is in shambles, but the pursuit of justice fuels his life. After meeting a beautiful inheritress, who can hold more than her own in a fight. Little does he know that the titans of the underworld will drag both deep down into a criminal power struggle for the streets of Hell’s Kitchen. One that will cost lives, and the souls of all that take part.
Daredevil certainly knows how to utilise the film format, offering sights and sounds that before were only the products of pure imagination. Using a combination of C.G.I. and impressive choreography, Daredevil leans into the strengths of the medium, offering an experience that feels like it leapt off the page. Visually the film is certainly striking, with a notable example of Daredevil stalking his first on-screen target, it feels almost monochrome, but with a steely metallic blue, and angelic whites, with accents of red making the scenes feel respectful of the graphic majesty of its source. While the depiction of Daredevil’s sonar vision feels then contemporary and intuitive enough to get the audience to perceive things from Murdock’s perspective. The licenced soundtrack most notably with Wake Me Up Inside helps to round off the audio portion of the film.
Maybe it’s because I’m a fan of the corny lines, but, Ben Affleck feels comfortable as the charming and skilled lawyer/vigilante, Matt Murdock, showing prowess fighting for justice. Both with the law and against the law, the more respectable (and less leather-clad) aspects of the pro bono legal activities are greatly enhanced with his buddy, “Foggy” providing a fun dynamic from future Marvel director Jon Favreau. Of course, Jennifer Garner is great as adept heiress Elektra, (but I am getting ahead of myself). Michael Clarke Duncan is a fun Kingpin, showing off his charisma in spades, and willing to bring his physicality to the role when it counts. Not being familiar with the character myself, Colin Farrell’s portrayal of Bullseye is intriguing and memorable enough to warrant seeking said character out. I also like the angle of Joe Pantoliano’s portrayal of the investigative reporter, Ben Urich, working for the
Daily Bugle New York Post, it should be noted that the Marvel cinematic licence was in a tumultuous state at the time, where this subtle change to a New York that’s more grounded to our reality.
A distinct entry in the pantheon of mid-2000s comic book adaptations, Daredevil treads confidently offering an exploration of a more interesting side of the Marvel New York, somewhat hampered by the limitations of licensing, but managing to tell the stories of a lot of interesting characters, with copious amounts of cool choreography and addictive action that draw audiences in droves. Like Murdock himself, the film may be limited in some areas, but more than makes up for it where it counts.
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