I knew full well that this was going to be absolute shite. Largely regarded as one of the worst superhero movies ever, and cementing Ben Affleck as, at the time, a piss poor actor, this ‘Daredevil’ movie could have killed off the superhero genre before it even began. Luckily, Christopher Nolan revived the dream, and Marvel have gone on to transform capes and masks into one of the most successful cinematic models in the world. I love the ‘Daredevil’ series on Netflix, so I thought that watching this monstrosity would prove just how great that series actually is, and I got a strange kind of thrill by settling down to watch a film I knew was going to be bad.
There is so much wrong with this film, but at least it remains faithful to the Matt Murdock-Daredevil story. Blinded as a child, Matt’s other senses are heightened to a superhuman level, rivaled only by his desire to deliver justice and crush the criminals who tarnish his city. Matt Murdock should be one of the most likeable, endearing characters in the superhero canon, and aside from this disaster, he really is. The characterisation of Matt Murdock and his alter ego is probably the biggest fuck up in this whole movie (which says a lot), with a cringe-worthy arrogance, laughable fight style and inconsistent moral compass. Possibly the only redeeming feature however, is that the story doesn’t dwell too much on the origins of Daredevil and gets quite quickly into the heart of the “action”, if we can call it action. Once there though, you find yourself wishing they got through the “action” much quicker too.
Ben Affleck, thankfully, has proven himself to be an accomplished actor since the turn of the decade, with ‘Argo’, ‘The Town’ and ‘Gone Girl’ displaying a much better range, giving us hope for Batfleck next year. In this instance however, Affleck’s performance is truly lamentable, and I imagine must be a rival to Ryan Reynold’s ‘Green Lantern’ in terms of worst superhero performance ever (I haven’t subjected myself to ‘Green Lantern’ yet, maybe after some recovery period). Credit where credit’s due, Jennifer Garner is actually not awful here, as the supposedly deadly warrior Elektra. Not only is she great to look at, but she has an attitude to boot. The real life couple, who are going through a bit of a rough patch this year, should have realised it would end in tears when they saw themselves take part in one of the most awkward and laughable “fight” scenes I have ever witnessed. Frolicking in a child’s playground, the pair jump around, perform somersaults and throw pathetic punches and kicks at each other in what is some kind of weird hybrid between a combat-romance scene; like two kids flirting in the schoolyard. There’s no place for that kind of shit in any superhero movie.
As the villains of the plot, the pressure is on Michael Clarke Duncan and Colin Farrell to deliver some kind of menacing presence to the story, and whilst the late Michael Clarke Duncan is a half-decent Kingpin, Colin Farrell hits new lows with his portrayal of Bullseye. I can’t stand Colin Farrell anyway – he’s the main reason I can’t watch True Detective series two – but by god, seeing the spring in his step and the glint in his eyes here is hard to endure. Farrell’s Bullseye dances around, throwing shit at people and trying to convey some kind of roguish charm which just tops off the whole calamitous production.
I think the ONLY true redeeming feature of this effort is the visual representation of Hell’s Kitchen – Murdock’s beloved neighbourhood – but to be honest, most superhero movies usually get that aspect right at the very least. So, I thank Marvel and Netflix for giving Daredevil another chance this year, because it would be a travesty for such a cool character to be destroyed by this awful representation. How an Elektra spin-off movie was given the go ahead I will never know. But it’s all in the past now, and the age of the superhero movie is in a fantastic place right now, where we can all look back and laugh at the cinematic crimes of days gone by. Here’s to Batfleck, don’t fuck it up again, Ben.
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Colin Farrell