Ben Affleck’s first attempt at his as yet unrealised goal of helming a franchise, Daredevil sees the eponymous hero blinded in a freak skateboarding accident.

“And you’re sure you’re Jennifer Lopez?”

Attempting to cross Batman with The Matrix, Marvel’s 2003 spectacle(s) has an inept structure that skates over the interesting part (a kid coming to terms with the disability that gives him superpowers) in lazy flashback/voiceover. It then jumps ahead to the grown-up Matt Murdock: by day a blind lawyer, by night a superhero who sleeps submerged in water in a metal tank. You know how blind people do.

The idea of a prosecutor murdering the criminals he failed to put away has potential, but we don’t see Murdock do any actual lawyering. So the villains never cross his path in courtroom scenes (of which there are none) and have neither relevance nor motivation. Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan) is the Big Bad for no other reason than he is dressed like London mayoral candidate Brian Rose, while Bullseye (Colin Farrell) just likes killing people.

“Did somebody say The Matrix?”

Daredevil fights them one by one, turning his hypersensitivity to noise (surely a drawback for a crimefighter) into sonar capabilities that help him kick ass but prove confusing to render in early-00s CGI. The contemporary soundtrack is equally dated and often offensive, not just in the inclusion of Evanescence, Hoobastank and Nickelback but in its targeted, stereotypical music cues – N.E.R.D.’s ‘Lapdance’ for the black character, House of Pain’s ‘Top o’ the Morning to Ya’ for the Irishman.

Instead of connective tissue between fight scenes, Mark Steven Johnson (Ghost Rider) pads out the runtime with jokes about Murdock’s disability. One scene sees Jon Favreau before he was Happy (he is in Daredevil after all) pranking his blind friend by handing him mustard to squeeze into his coffee, although what Murdock thought he was squeezing from a tube into some coffee is anyone’s guess.

Things get even more awkward when the awkwardly named Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner) shows up and Affleck literally starts sniffing around her, presumably because she smells of natchios. No wonder he is never mentioned in Elektra; even his love interest wants nothing to do with Daredevil.

Brian Rose

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