So in just 10 short days, Marvel’s new series “Daredevil” will debut on Netflix. There is a lot of buzz about this show and it is safe to say that it is highly anticipated for many different reasons. First of all, it brings Daredevil back into the fold of the established Marvel Cinematic Universe for the first time since the MCU was officially started with “Iron Man” back in 2008. (Previously, 20th Century Fox had owned the rights to The Sightless Swashbuckler.) Secondly, it is the kick-off of Netflix’s group of Marvel shows which will culminate in a “Defenders” series. After “Daredevil”, we will see “AKA Jessica Jones” then “Iron Fist” followed by “Luke Cage” and then finally “The Defenders.” But perhaps the main reason most people are excited about “Daredevil” is because, as someone I know said, it will finally wash the taste of that awful Ben Affleck movie out of our mouths.
This seems to be a common feeling among people I encounter. Whenever the subject of comic book movies comes up, “Daredevil” always make the bottom of everyone’s list. This bothers me because I really, really don’t see what the problem is with this film! A lot of fans just don’t care for Ben Affleck and were upset that he was given the role and didn’t like how he played the titular character. (We saw this again with his casting as Batman in the upcoming “Dawn Of Justice.”) Part of this can be attributed to the fact that the theatrical release of “Daredevil” was different from the Director’s Cut that was released later on DVD. Besides gaining an R rating instead of just a PG-13, the Director’s Cut also explored Matt Murdock’s childhood a little more, it didn’t feature the Elektra character as heavily and spent more time with Matt Murdock in his civilian identity as a defense lawyer. It was more the movie that the director Mark Steven Johnson wanted from the beginning.
Still, even the original version isn’t really anything to sneeze at when looked at in the context of the other Marvel films that were being done at that same time. In fact, in my humble opinion, it is probably the most faithful of those other movies to the original comic book source material. Take the original “Spider-Man” trilogy for example. The first thing that bugged me was that Spider-Man lost his webshooters. Instead, he could fire organic webbing right out of his wrists. This was one of the ways in which the first Spidey film glossed over Peter Parker’s intellect and scientific genius that was a staple of the comics. Also, the original trilogy skipped right over Gwen Stacy in favor of immediately introducing Mary Jane Watson into the story. And then we get into Ang Lee’s “Hulk” film which was just…… so bad. (Bruce Banner’s dad was the Absorbing Man? Really?!?!)
When it comes to “Daredevil” though, they got a lot of details right. I felt that they gave proper deference to Matt Murdock’s dichotomy as the need to follow the law as far as it would go, but then his need to truly see justice carried out in the guise of his horned alter ego. The interplay between Jon Favreau‘s Foggy Nelson and Affleck’s Matt Murdock was also very enjoyable and fun to watch. The script also stuck to the source material more so than the other movies from the early 2000’s. They show Matt Murdock’s dad as a prize fighter. They show Matt getting blinded in a chemical accident which robs him of his sight but leaves his senses enhanced. With the exception of skipping Matt’s romance with Karen Page and going straight to Elektra, everything else was absolutely faithful to the comic.
Now as to the casting, the only issue I had was with Colin Farrell as Bullseye. He wouldn’t have been my first choice and I didn’t care for the bullseye logo actually embedded into his forehead. I would have preferred to see the full costume complete with mask. Be that as it may, how could I really complain with they had Michael Clarke Duncan portraying Wilson Fisk (AKA: The Kingpin)?!?! There is literally no one else I could think of who would have conceivably been a better fit for that part. He had the size, the presence and the attitude that the role required and he was easily my favorite part of the film. The cast also featured Joe Pantoliano as Ben Urich (even though they couldn’t use “The Daily Bugle” due to Sony having the rights to everything Spider-Man) and an appearance by Kevin Smith as coroner Jack Kirby (a nod to Daredevil’s co-creator). As to Affleck’s protrayal of DD, I fail to see what he did wrong. Honestly it just seems like there are people out there who don’t care for Ben Affleck no matter what he does and that attitude kind of stuck and then carried over to Daredevil. We’re now seeing the same thing with Batman. As soon as it was announced that he would be playing The Caped Crusader, people immediately began shouting about how horrible this was going to be and what a bad fit has was for the part. This attitude still over a decade after playing Daredevil and even with the numerous awards that he has picked up for both acting and directing in that decade. Sure everyone has their “Gigli” moments (a fact to which I’m sure Johnny Depp can now attest.) but that shouldn’t mean that we just disregard everything that an actor will do out-of-hand because of one bad film.
Of course, if you don’t share my high-esteem for the original “Daredevil” movie, you now have the new series coming with Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll and Vincent D’Onofrio (playing Matt Murdoch, Karen Page and Wilson Fisk, respectively) and whatever happens here, it will officially be canon and I have no doubt that it will be as amazing as everything else that Marvel/Disney has given us so far since 2008. Perhaps even future generations will look back and say “You mean the guy who played Batman played Daredevil too?!?”