19 February 2003 | perni
Better than Spiderman, in my opinion...
Where Spiderman was colorful and almost cartoonish, Daredevil is gritty and merciless. Whatever you thought couldn't happen in Peter Parker's world will more than likely happen in Matt Murdock's neck of the woods. Because people die here. Sometimes they die slowly and painfully. The superheroes go home with scars on their backs, broken teeth, and more than a few gruesome images that need to be repressed. For all of these reasons I liked Daredevil, because it takes chances by offering a hero that is by no means invincible or conventional.
The origin story of the character Daredevil is pretty complicated, but, as the helpful gentleman in the theater so aptly put it, "He's blind, but he can see stuff blind." Let's just leave it at this: As a kid, Matt Murdock was blinded by radioactive material in a freak accident. This caused his other senses to become phenomenally acute, to the point where Matt can track criminals by their scent and use sound waves as a sort of radar. He uses his newfound abilities to protect those who will not be protected by the justice system, all the while hoping that one day he will find the person who killed his father.
If you're a fan of the first two Batman movies, you'll find a lot to love in Daredevil. There are still some comic book elements that require some suspension of disbelief, like the fact that Matt could construct an entire high-tech lair beneath a church while working as a pro-bono lawyer, but the movie is not fantasy-driven. The fight scenes will make you wince at their realism, the love story is not corny or forced (as opposed to a certain flick called Just Married), and the characters are complex, uncertain people who just happen to don masks and fight on rooftops.
Do you remember the parts in the old Christopher Reeve Superman movies where Clark would hear someone crying for help in the distance? He would always be having dinner with Lois Lane at the time, and had to make up some dumb excuse for ditching the scene like, "Oh! I just forgot. I have a book due at the library." Then he would dash off to save the day, leaving Lois high and dry. Well, in today's feature, Matt hears someone crying for help, but when his love interest, Elektra, asks him to stay, he actually does. With out-of-left-field scenes like this, I couldn't help but enjoy Daredevil.
Some might be surprised at how little screen time the villains get in this movie. Kingpin, a Don Giovini mobster type, and Bullseye, an Irish nut with a couple of loose screws, are important parts of our story, but they don't steal the show. Going back to the Batman comparison, many movie buffs think that Jack Nicholson's role as the joker actually become more interesting than the winged knight himself. Not so in this movie, as Daredevil is the guy whom the role shebang revolves around. By deciding to focus on the hero more than the villain, the audience can get into his head and root for him to the last battle. Matt is a cool guy because he's not a wealthy playboy or Kryptonian who can smash through walls. Other than his heightened senses and combat skills, he's just a regular guy who happens to like read leather.
After X-Men and Spiderman became huge hits, it was expected that Hollywood would start churning out more superhero flicks as fast as they could make them. Thankfully, Daredevil doesn't seem recycled or rushed and actually brings something new to the table.