Netflix’s Daredevil is two days away. As most of the impressions people have of the character come from the film that came out in 2003, I decided to review it and its impression of the character. Starring Ben Affleck, the story involved Kingpin, Elektra, and Bullseye, the characters who many would say are the heart of the story of Daredevil. There is plenty of good and plenty of bad.
As a movie
As a film, Daredevil is admittedly lacking. The story has some cheesy points, sometimes painfully so. Elektra’s hushed hiss of “liar” or “What do you want?” – “JUSTICE!” were all painful in their own ways. There was plenty of them, but the greatest sin would have to be the ridiculous fight on the playground between Elektra and Matt. If these moments were eradicated, the entire flow of the film would be much more fluid.
Cheesiness aside, the pace of the film is estranged. While the backstory of Matt is important, with his father and the accident that leads to his powers, a great deal of time is spent on it, probably more than necessary. The end was simply a series of battles, not neatly tied together but rapidly fired. Matt and Elektra’s relationship suffer the “Romeo and Juliet” effect, where they rapidly fall in love within a couple minutes.
As a movie, there are reasons why people don’t like it. The film has some legitimate issues. Unfortunately, these have been reflected onto the character in a way that I hope the Netflix show will undo.
As a Comic Adaptation
Daredevil takes on the Elektra saga, one of the very first great storylines in Daredevil lore. Hell’s Kitchen was reflected well on screen, with the Frank Miller darkness brought over well. Unfortunately, the film was able to take the scenes and story from the comics without understanding the ideas of the film.
For example, the biggest issue with the comic adaptation is that Daredevil kills. While the Elektra story arc shows the consequences of Daredevil’s refusal to take a life, while the film changes it to Daredevil learning to not kill. This provides an extremely dark character, reducing the Man Without Fear to a murderer.
That being said, there are some very well done scenes and aspects of the comic-to-film relationship. Elektra’s death scene is panel-to-frame identical to the comics (although the location is moved). The film sets up perfectly for the Born Again storyline, with Kingpin learning of Matt’s identity. Ben Urich’s character was set up perfectly for his character from the comics (and I was a fan of the actor for Urich as well). There were other characters from the comics that made appearances, such as Chief Ellison or even a brief Karen Page.
The film also added some things to the comics. The entire character of the Priest who knew Matt’s identity was original. Although Matt has talked to priests before, this character seemed to be interesting when considering Matt’s insistence on the protection of his identity in comics (although he is the one who has suffered most from it being leaked). Matt also slept in a tank of water at night, which was not from the comics. This almost undermines the ability Daredevil has developed to filter the noise in order to live in a world of noise. That being said, it was early in the Daredevil career, so I can’t fault it too much for creative liberties.
As a whole, the movie was the summary of a wikipedia page. Although it summarized the story well (with a couple creative liberties), it did not capture the heart of the story. It’s characters were casted exceptionally, but lacked the reality of the characters from the comics. As a whole, it succeeded in trivia, but failed in the comprehension.
That being said, the early reviews for Daredevil’s netflix series are coming out now. They are exceptional and are claiming this series to be incredible. Will this new Daredevil be able to step out from the shadow of the 2003 film? For now, only time will tell.