February 14, 2003
Just below the top tier comic book-based movies comes Daredevil, a project based on a highly-beloved character that is mostly unknown outside the world of comics. Starring Ben Affleck in the lead role as the blind, costumed crime-fighter, the film has been written and is being directed by Mark Steven Johnson. The film costars Michael Clark Duncan, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Garner and Jon Favreau.
The story focuses on Matt Murdock, a man who was stricken blind in a childhood accident that involved toxic waste. While the toxic waste takes away Murdock's vision, it gives him radar-like capabilities and heightens his senses to superhuman levels. Without giving too much away, Matt grows up to be a lawyer and battles for justice as both an attorney and the fearless crime-fighter, Daredevil. The rest of the story...well, we'll let Mark Steven Johnson handle the telling of the rest of it.
It was Johnson's incredibly well-received screenplay that got this film green-lit in the first place. While major franchises such as The Incredible Hulk, Superman, Batman and The Fantastic Four were being slowly developed in Hollywood, it was Johnson's screenplay that came out of nowhere to surprise everyone and leap-frog this project into a go. With the brilliant casting move of signing Affleck to play blind attorney Matt Murdock, Johnson gets a star who is not only familiar with giant blockbuster films, but is also an avid fan of the source material. The casting of Affleck gives one comfort that the character at the center of the story will receive the attention to detail that he richly deserves. And with Affleck's good buddy Kevin Smith coming off an incredibly successful run as writer of the Daredevil comic book, Affleck should have plenty to work with.
And as solid a move as casting Affleck was, Johnson made an absolutely daring move in casting Duncan, an African-American, to play Daredevil's arch-nemesis, The Kingpin, the leader of the all New York mobs. (The Kingpin, as portrayed in Marvel comics, is an incredibly large Caucasian man). Farrell handles the role of Bullseye, the skilled assassin, and Garner will play Affleck's love interest, Elektra, who is also an assassin. What the movie has going for it is quite an eclectic cast, with at least three proven, quality actors driving the film. As Spider-Man, X-Men and Batman showed, you truly need excellent actors in comic book-based movies to keep the film grounded. If not handled correctly, the setting, plot and screenplay can easily fall into farce or B-movie territory. It is the actors that carry these films and make them either good or bad, and in that respect, Daredevil is off to a fantastic start.
With an estimated $60 million budget and a much darker story that does not have the grand scope of Spider-Man or Batman, Daredevil should be a great change-of-pace to a somewhat lighter story. With Marvel having a strong hold on its movie franchises and with interest in comic-book movies being so high, Daredevil promises to be a treat for movie fans who crave good, dark action with strong characters and a very interesting story. (Walid Habboub/BOP)
Comparison films for Daredevil
|Batman and Robin