Superhero films are a tricky business. Normally adapted from comic books with vast histories that may have had decades to build up their characters in the minds of readers and fans, a major stumbling block is often how to portray the angst (there is always angst), suffering (there is always suffering) and journey for justice or redemption (guess what? Yes sir, they are always present as well) that a team of writers, artists and editors has worked on via the printed medium. More often than not the films fail to do this, they fail to be good or interesting and they spectacularly fail to help out the careers of anyone involved. While there have been a few notable exceptions (Burton and Batman, Bryan Singer and Hugh Jackman and X-men and Nolan and Batman) there has only ever been one Superhero movie that saw the stumbling block, picked it up and smashed it into it’s own face until what arrived in cinemas around the world was a horrible amalgamation of scars, block and broken teeth.
That movie was Daredevil. Starring Ben Affleck (a chin with a man attached who occasionally acts but mostly is a chin with a man attached), Jennifer Garner as a misplaced hot-chick who is in the movie so she can be hot and then die and Colin Farrell as a total dick. The main bad guy is such a nonentity in the movie that I nearly forgot to say that Michael Clarke Duncan was in it. He was. As a final nail in the coffin it was written and directed by Mark Stephen Johnson the guy who wrote Grumpy Old Men, Grumpier Old Men and Jack Frost and who had directed one film before this about a kid who feared he was a midget and felt God had some great plan for him (I’d love to say i made this up but it’s actually true) - making him the obvious choice to helm such a challenging movie.
Anyway, the film opens with Daredevil draped over a cross atop a church while bleeding profusely before lowering himself to the ground and viciously face-planting…so we understand how messed up he is. Then we endure some flashbacks about how he was bullied, his Dad was a boxer who was also very important to him with regard to developing a moral compass and the will to succeed and before you know it he is blinded by nuclear waste and developing all kinds of weird powers but at the cost of his eyesight. At this point it should be pointed out that Stan Lee’s understanding of the effects on humans of toxic goo is not really up to snuff and this method of super power transfer in real life would result in the hideous mess that is Tumour Man. We’ll forgive him because he is so old though, back when he was writing this stuff radiation was basically like magic.
As a final experiment in throwing subtly out the goddamn window (but not before stabbing it in the face a few times) Daredevil’s Dad refuses to throw a fight, gets the win and is subsequently beaten to death…neatly proving the theory that a highly trained professional boxer wouldn’t stand a chance in a real fight. At this point we are about 15 minutes deep and we have had the very basis of the character’s psyche, his drive and his greatest emotional challenges thrown full force into our face with a degree of reckless abandon that is more suited to porn movies where the main theme is an eye damage fetish. By now any self respecting fan of the comics should have been hating the movie (and the soundtrack, which is mediocre crap-rock that makes Nickleback seem amazingly deep and intellectual) and i surely was.
It continues on like this, almost endlessly, lacking all subtly and delicacy around important things like plot and character development but the real stand out turd of the whole stinking affair has to be Ben Affleck’s performance. In some ways his portrayal of a blind person is so amazing that he should have gotten an Oscar. So that we know he is blind he spends a lot of time looking slightly off camera but not actually registering anything. This is so we know that blind people can still point their face at things but because their eyes don’t work they can’t see them. Also, his hair tends to be messy…because blind people can’t see their own hair so don’t know if it’s messy or not. And as a final foundation for the portrayal of the visually impaired he absolutely makes sure never to look at the person who is talking to them…as blind people the world over never focus on a source of sound so they can hear it in stereo the same way we do. He may as well have worn a t-shirt that said “Please talk into my left ear…I’m blind”.
The dialogue is appalling, after throwing an evil doer onto the railway tracks so an oncoming train can deliver some serious justice he says “That light at the end of the tunnel, that’s not heaven…it’s the C-train”. The script is littered with such absolute gems, often delivering the kind of important details that Sesame Street manages to do with more nuance and sophistication. Nothing is left up to the imagination of the viewer in any way, there is no subtlety in any aspect of the movie. They go out of their way to let us know that poor Daredevil is emotionally closed off, dedicated only to the idea of being a superhero, a lawyer and pretending to be blind.
That’s right, pretending. The guy can basically see like a bat via the awesome power of sonar. He can actually interpret and react to the world far better than you or I but chooses to portray himself as a blind man simply because he reckons it’s fun to walk behind people and whack the shit out their legs with his cane. Hardly the greatest dick move in history but he highlights his dickish tendencies by doing all kinds of stuff the people who see can’t do. Like throwing basketballs into nets when his friend can’t make a single basket, dodging cars and potholes when the girl he is walking with nearly kills herself with both and winning complex but poorly choreographed fight sequences in the park. Elektra briefly asks him if he is sure he is blind but establishes herself as a very poor detective when she happily buys his answer of “yes - nice tits by the way”.
And so the film rolls on, overselling, overstating and undermining itself pretty much every step of the way, presenting what should be likable characters in a fashion which instantly makes you hate them and using it’s soundtrack in a manner that is somehow less delicate than a drunken, recently divorced and homeless dentist doing his ex-wive’s bridge work. When we meet Kingpin the song playing is N.E.R.D’s “Lapdance” because, you know, he’s black and a gangster. When we meet Bullseye the song playing is “Top O The Morning To Ya” by House of Pain, because Bullseye is Irish and for some reason Everlast really wanted to be. It’s remarkably painful and the kind of shit that not even Michael Bay gets up to in his movies.
By the end of the movie you just want everyone to die…and are quite happy that most of them do except for the title character. The best laugh of the movie is then provided by the fact that they actually leave it open for a sequel, which is the rough equivalent of going out for the night and drinking 10 pints and eating a curry and then taking a dump on the roof of someone’s car on the way home. But rather than continue your journey you actually wait outside their door in case you want to shit in their mouth when they come out the next morning. That’s right…everyone involved in the Daredevil movie wanted to shit in your mouth.
In essence, the only thing worse that this movie are some of the reviews for this movie on IMDB that really do lead me to believe that the director has nothing better to do with him time now (credits after this film are Elektra and Ghostrider and then a big fat pile of nothing) than make fake accounts and try and imply his movies are not massive steaming piles of feces.
The simple truth is that this film is bad and everyone involved with it should feel bad…if you have not seen it and for some reason decide you want to watch it then be warned as the harsh levels of irony involved in doing so will almost certainly make you want to blind yourself half way through.