A superhero created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett for Marvel Comics. Daredevil first appeared in Daredevil #1 published in 1964.

Matt Murdock was the only son of "Battling Jack" Murdock, a small time boxer from Hell's Kitchen. Jack Murdock raised his son alone after his wife died. To help make ends meet, the elder Murdock became an enforcer for a mobster called the Fixer. Murdock raised his son to abstain from violence. As Matt was bookish anyway, he became the target of other children, who nicknamed him "Daredevil."

The younger Murdock's life changed when he saved a blind man who had stumbled into the path of a truck carrying radioactive isotopes. A canister containing the isotopes struck Matt in the face, blinding him, but increasing his other senses to incredible levels. Murdock was now able to hear a person's heartbeat, to taste the number of pieces of salt on a pretzel, to "read" by feeling the impression made by type on a page, and to track people just by their smell. Murdock also gained the ability to "see" his surroundings by a radar-like ability. All of these abilities Matt honed with the help of a mysterious old blind man named Stick.

When the elder Murdock refused to thow a boxing match, his employer, the Fixer, had Murdock murdered. Matt created a costume and calling himself "Daredevil" after the taunts of his childhood, went after his father's murderers. Armed with a billy club, with extendable cable, he eventually brought the men to justice.

Murdock went to law school and there met "Foggy" Nelson, a fellow student. Nelson and Murdock graduated and later opened a law practice together. Murdock became romantically involved with their secretary Karen Page for many years.

Having once been a fan of the comic book during its heyday, I approached the film version of Daredevil with excitement and a touch of apprehension (just like I did with Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman). The trailers certainly looked very good and with advance photos being readily available, I had to admit that they did a good job with the costume, always a difficult thing to pull off in any comic-to-film production.

I watched the film on Sunday with my little brother-in-law who, at 13, has no idea about the complex story of Daredevil over the years, save for a few appearances on the new Spider-Man cartoon. This actually turned out to be a good thing for him because it didn't spoil his experience of the film - something I couldn't avoid since I cherished the whole Elektra saga from 20 years ago.

And, on that note, this is where I shall air my faint praise and many more grievances with the film...

What's good about the film?

The director, Mark Steven Johnson, certainly had the dark atmosphere of the comic down pat in the film. Daredevil never was a happy-go-lucky kind of superhero - sharp contrast to the other (and more famous) superhero of NYC. In committing that dark, tragic, and complicated psyche of Matt Murdock to film (or attempting to - more on that later) and making NYC a really shite place to live in, Mr. Johnson certainly scored.

The villains were very well cast. Colin Farrell made an excellent Bullseye, even if he didn't get to wear the blue and white costume from the comic (something he complains about in one of the best lines in the film). He's every bit as psychotic and cocky as he is in the comic. Michael Clarke Duncan also played Kingpin to a T, with most of the menacing qualities that we remember a bald and large white guy to be - but black.

As for Elektra...wow, she sure looked good. I didn't think Jennifer Garner looked exotic enough to play Ms. Natchios but after seeing her in the film, my initial qualms were eased. The leather outfit reversed my initial protests over not using the red sashes.

Plus, for the comic fans, the film does use some of the best lines and even scenes from the original Elektra saga - witness the final fight between Bullseye and Elektra.

What's not good about the film?

Noticed that I haven't said anything good about the central character? For good reason - Ben Affleck didn't do it for me in his portrayal of Daredevil. Quite frankly, I'm not a big fan of his work in other films (except for Chasing Amy) so when word came out that he was chosen to play DD, I flipped out. I then hoped that it would turn out like a "Michael Keaton as Batman" kind of deal but it was not to be. Every time I saw DD on screen, I just couldn't accept him as anything more than some pretty boy with a one note delivery.

To me, Daredevil is a lot like DC Comics' version of Batman - a human being without any superhero powers who straddles the line between good-hearted individual and all-out psychotic nutjob. A man in need of some serious therapy. In the film, Mr. Affleck clenches his jaw to show that he's miffed. He clenches his jaw to show that he's not so miffed. He clenches his jaw when he gets some Elektra tail. This doesn't show me any real emotional complexity in the character but it does go to show that he sure can pull off a really good jawline, a pre-requisite of many superhero characters.

And, to continue on the comic fan trip, Elektra in the film is a far cry from the one in the comic. This is not to say that Ms. Garner did a poor job with the role. Instead, it is a knock on the fact that the scriptwriters turned the complex Elektra into a single emotion version. In the comic, she is an assassin who allows her desire for vengeance slowly darken her soul, almost to the point of no return. In the film, she is neither an assassin nor is her soul all that corrupted. No, she's just out for vengeance and that's tough for fans like me to swallow.

Finally, for those who thought the fight scenes were good, I'd like to know what version of the film you were watching. The one I saw yesterday had fight scenes that were nothing more than a blur. Note to the director - if you're going to make cool fight scenes, don't put the camera in so close. I swear, the actors could have been dancing the funky chicken and I would not have been able to see the difference.


While I didn't outright detest the film, it certainly was a bit of a disappointment for me. My brother-in-law, however, thought it was fun so maybe I'm just a little too jaded on the original comic book to give an objective opinion. Nevertheless, the film was marketed with a focus on three things - the superhero, the fights, and the girl. While they more or less got the last part right, the fact is that the movie is called Daredevil and not Elektra.

Anyway, to sum it up, okay film for those who have not read the comics and are willing to put up with mediocre acting from the lead actor. A disappointment for the rest.


  • In the comics, both Daredevil and Spider-Man operate in the Manhattan area. Therfore, one would expect to see characters like Kingpin and Ben Urich (who, in the comic world, actually works for the Daily Bugle just like Peter Parker) show up in both films. However, the rights to the film version of Daredevil is owned by 20th Century Fox and the rights to Spider-Man by Columbia so don't expect any cross-overs any time soon.
  • In interviews, Jennifer Garner has mentioned that the producers have discussed a spinoff series of films centered on Elektra. Without giving too much away, I'd like to see how they're going to pull that off (unless they bring in the mystical elements of the original comic book storyline).



Ben Affleck - Matt Murdock
Jennifer Garner - Elektra Natchios
Colin Farrell - Bullseye
Michael Clarke Duncan - Wilson Fisk (Kingpin)
Jon Favreau - Franklin "Foggy" Nelson
Joe Pantoliano - Ben Urich
David Keith - Jack Murdock

Directed by Mark Steven Johnson

Written by Brian Helgeland

Released by 20th Century Fox

So it's been thirteen years since the last outing of Marvel's Daredevil, in the cinema release described elsewhere in this node. The movie rights reverted back to Marvel (I believe) in 2013, and rather than do another film they decided to make a television series. It blurs the line just a bit, though, as the series was made with Netflix - and released on that service all at once, rather than on a weekly schedule. Marvel is betting heavily (and winning so far) on a combined film and television assault on our wallets and attention spans. This show is the latest manifestation of their efforts.

Let's start with the easy answer. I like it, but I've only seen around half the first season. A second season, as of the date of this writeup, has been approved by Netflix, so there will be more coming. So why do I like it? And what don't I like?

I like the setting. Quite a bit. Faithful to the comics, this show is set in New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, on the far west of midtown Manhattan. Back when the comic book was written, this area was a rough place - home to many day laborers and the remnants of Manhattan's dockside businesses, it consisted almost entirely of low-rise tenement walk-up housing. It was a crime-ridden area, at least in the public mind, due to the rough nature of its inhabitants. Daredevil setting out to clean it up as a native son was a perfectly acceptable story. The problem now is that unlike DC's efforts, Marvel's are set not in Metropolis or Gotham or Starling City or Center City but in Noo Friggin Yawk - and there's baggage there. Today, midtown Manhattan of all longitudes is an expensive place, much safer than it was, and heavily developed. How to reconcile the two?

Marvel have done so by adhering to their current plan. See, a couple of years ago, in The Avengers, New York got heavily beat up by a superhero-versus-alien battle that included everything from The Hulk to the U.S. military to nuclear weapons and on into spatial gateways and cosmically grumpy faceless badguy armies. We watched big chunks of the city laid waste in glorious CGI, although they did manage to respectfully avoid Grand Central Terminal itself. Clearly, even alien invaders respect the Oyster Bar.

But now, a couple of years later, the expected has happened. There are interests fighting over the wreckage in parts of the city - both the crime and vice that have settled in there, as well as the more massive opportunities available to those looking to build something in its place. And thus we get Daredevil.

Just as in the comic, Matt Murdock is the son of Battlin' Jack Murdock, crooked boxer who died after refusing to throw a fight. He was blinded in an accident involving radioactive isotopes on the street. He has acquired strangely heightened senses. He's a devout Catholic and a lawyer, partnered with Foggy Nelson and Karen Page, dividing his time between a quixotic law practice during the day and violent vigilantism during the night. So far, so good. He's not called 'Daredevil' yet, though - in much the same way that Arrow is tantalizing us by not using the central character's familiar name, Daredevil hasn't seen the name uttered once. Not even in the backstory the comic gives us for it.

The acting is fine. It's not wonderful, but this is a television show. There are some fine actors here, but they're also being given Marvel pap to chew and swallow, and it's really really difficult to play comic books without either chewing scenery or just picking a one-note and sticking to it. Charlie Cox (Murdock) is doing fine so far. He's able to project more emotional states than Ben Affleck could even hint at in the last film, for sure. He's doing okay at acting blind - not wonderful, I think, but not too badly. He still uses his eyes too much, and they still point far too close to where they would want to were he sighted, but he's working at it. One thing that's not subtle - the show has made a big thing of the Murdock men, how when cornered, they retreat into stone-faced violent immunity to damage until the job is done. Well, Cox doesn't really do that. They're presenting him as much too balletic a fighter to pull that off. He's also not big enough, so they can't have him just start accepting damage during fights. He shows up well battered afterwards, but for all they talk about it, he's not relying on 'stubborn bullheadedness.' That's okay - the comic book character didn't either. Halfway through the first season, he's still barehanded and the costume isn't in evidence yet - he relies on a tied black kerchief that makes him look (in my opinion) way too much like the Dread Pirate Roberts but I have a feeling that the costume's big reveal will be a later episode wow moment. People have already in the show started telling him he needs armor, he needs a better look, etc. Foreshadowing.

Elden Henson's Foggy is okay - he's earnest, he has the slightly overfed look you'd expect, but he's not actually overweight like Foggy was originally. He's earnest, and sidekicky, and serves as a great source of secondhand info on Matt. Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page so far is very blonde, in an inquisitive way, and reminds me an incredible amount of Donna from The West Wing. We'll see.

On the other side, while we have some Central Casting villains (mostly various sub-bosses in the consortium out to crush and develop Hell's Kitchen) we also have, of course, The Kingpin. Played here by a very hefty and bald Vincent D'Onofrio, he's doing a very good job of projecting driven power with a goal. He's complex enough to pull off a sequences where he becomes involved with a woman by being awkward and honest, and projecting both need and determination - impressive enough in a superhero story. He's a villain with a reason, even though we don't know what it is yet - that's backstory, and that's one of the drivers of these things. But he's capable of pure driven rage, much the same as Murdock. Their similarity in motives and tendencies are a central point of the comic, one the TV show explicitly explores in dialogue and visual references which, while not terribly subtle, are still effective.

In general? I like it. It's hewing close to the original; it's not afraid to drop bits that are awkward for its story or to make allowances to wedge in bits that are important to the character's history. It's nice having a central continuity for reference, when you're in a fantasy world - it makes things more solid. The fact that the movies (Iron Man and sequels, The Avengers, The Hulk and the Thor movies) all have hewed to it, as has Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes it feel like this really is a small story set in the easily extrapolated world of the Marvel New York. Spider-Man feels like he's out there somewhere. We know the Avengers are, they've been nearly namechecked ("A man in a black mask? If you said it was due to a blond alien with a magic hammer, or a guy in an iron suit, then maybe your excuse would hold up").

So. So far, a solid entry. Will keep watching and hope the season continues to entertain.


I finished watching the first season. The second season has been approved by Netflix, so we'll see what happens. Some notes follow.

The story is in fact quite well done. It's not nearly as tight as a good movie. It wanders around, and there are bits that look extraneous later as well as pieces that are clearly just hooks dropped in for later season stories and arcs, with no explanation. Still, it remains clear that this season is the story of Kingpin and Daredevil - how they started. It does close that arc, and close it well - with a decisive change at the end, but one which leaves infinite room for later development.

I have to say that the acting improved as the season went on, although mostly with the secondary characters. Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin became clearer and clearer as time went on, and when he exhibits the Kingpin's famous physical rages, he clicks ever so solidly into place. This is an excellent portrayal, marred only by some emoting quirks that feel overcoached or overthought.

Daredevil himself becomes less important to the onscreen action as the season continues, but he gets a full center screen treatment for the finale.

I'd recommend this, frankly. It feels less 'produced' than Marvel's movie franchises, but that's a good thing. It's less ambitious both by necessity and by design. It's very dark, and willing to go dark places - which is completely faithful to the source comic. At least one character will exit the season with something very surprising about them.

"Daredevil", the Netflix Original Series that is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has concluded its second season , and is reportedly in the process of filming a third season, at the same time as Marvel is preparing to release several series based around interlocking characters, including Jessica Jones and The Punisher. This review will contain spoilers for Series 1 and 2.

Although the series had some flaws, and the amount of graphic violence might not be to everyone's taste, the series has basically succeeded in two difficult tasks: capturing the essence of the Marvel comic book series, and making a dense and engaging television show. The different facets of Daredevil, such as his blindness, faith in the law, anger, and Catholicism are all explored to much greater length than they could in a movie. The supporting characters, even when they are modified from the comic books, capture their spirit. The doughy but plucky Foggy Nelson, the sophisticated but brutal Wilson Fisk and the jaded but principled journalist Ben Urich are all depicted in a way that makes them seem both like their traditional comic book selves, but also fully drawn characters. The character's departures from convention in details only strengthen their depiction in essence.

The series eschews the "snappy dialogue" and "clever moments" that were a trend in television for a long while. It is not exactly quotable. The scenes tend to trade between explosive fight scenes and long speeches. Both of these could get boring, but because the overall arc of the show is presented as a detective story, with a number of mysteries to solve, the compulsion to keep watching goes on.

The first series and the second series, each 13 episodes, showed different types of storytelling. The first series was a traditional story told with Marvel characters. It has a single dramatic unity, showing the conflict between Daredevil and Wilson Fisk. Although there was some subplots, and hints of things to come (especially in the episode "Stick"), it was basically a universally recognizable story about a good man fighting against a corrupt man. It was also almost bare of either supernatural or science-fiction elements. The second series was more of a Marvel story (naturally). Instead of having roles in a single story, characters shift their roles and types to fight into a number of stories. Along with Matt Murdock and his business associates, we are introduced to two slightly interrelated plots: the story of The Punisher and his battle against crime, and the story of Matt's exgirlfriend, the assassin Elektra and her battle against a cult of ninjas. The second series also takes on a much more "comic book" feel, with more costumes, more science-fiction, and more magic.

If there is one thing that I think the show has missed so far, it is the urbanity of Matt Murdock, Attorney at Law. My own take on Daredevil is that he is just a tool that Matt Murdock, a very intelligent man who believes in the law, uses to right wrongs. The series so far has treated Daredevil's brutality and anger as the real character, and the lawyer persona of Matt Murdock as just a ruse. It would perhaps be more entertaining to see Murdock, a lawyer and investigator with superhuman powers of observation, use a bit of detective work and subterfuge to solve crimes, rather than beating up thugs in back alleys. Along the same lines, despite the obvious grim and gritty nature of the series, it would be nice to see an occasional lighthearted, acrobatic take on the character. Whether I will get my wish, and how Daredevil will fit into the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, will be seen in the next few years.

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