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By Far the Worst of Marvel's Recent Movies
on November 19, 2003
Translating an idea between media, i.e. comic book to movie, necessitates changes. I enjoyed Marvel's X-Men, Spider-Man and Hulk movies; all embody changes from the comics but they were true to the spirit of the originals, and the changes were, in some ways, improvements. In Daredevil, the changes damage the story line and lessen the character.
Comic: Jack Murdock is a constant moral compass to his son, he never betrays his ideals. Matt is blinded in his first act of heroism; he races to push a blind man from the path of an on-rushing truck from which falls a radioactive isotope, striking him across the eyes.
Movie: Jack lies to Matt, pretending to be a dockworker; actually he's a bonebreaker for a loan shark. Discovering his father roughing up a victim, Matt runs away, heartbroken, right into a spray of toxic waste. Which is more interesting, makes the character more noble, lets us understand how a hero could have been raised by such a father?
Comic: Ben Urich is a tall, gangly chainsmoker, hag-ridden by his commitment to journalistic integrity.
Movie: He's short, artsy, with an effeminate speech pattern, wears his hat backwards and literally looks down his nose at everyone he talks to.
Comic: The Kingpin is a super-Godfather.
Movie: Ditto, but he's black. Like all Mafia bosses, natch.
Comic: Matt becomes one of the nation's top trial attorneys.
Movie: he can't even convict one of the Kingpin's men of rape, he's not as good as the defense lawyer. (And how much sense does it make for a private attorney to handle a high profile case against a known organized crime figure? Can you say: district attorney?) He doesn't even charge money, clients pay him in barter. Which makes the character more impressive?
Comic: The fact Matt is not a normal blind man is his greatest secret.
Movie: After being "blinded" he beats up the neighborhood bullies, complete with gymnastics. You think someone might realize this isn't your typical blind kid? He does the same thing with Elektra years later. They do their best to beat each other to a pulp (it's shameless the way they flirt) with dozens of witnesses, engaging in flips, balance beam acts, martial arts moves. Goodbye, secret identity.
Comic: Matt's billy clubs snap together, disguising themselves as his blind man's cane.
Movie: The "disguised" cane is inset with raised devil head emblems. <Groan.> As a direct result of this, Ben Urich realizes Matt is Daredevil. A police scientist demonstrates how the billy clubs collapse down to a long, thin cane. (But the police never, then or later, say to themselves, "You know....this looks a lot like a blind man's cane.")
Comic: Bullseye is a stone-cold costumed assassin.
Movie: Bullseye is a twitchy, undisciplined killer with a scarred forehead and trenchcoat. Bullseye's elegant black-and-white outfit would look great in live action. Why they didn't go for that is beyond me.
Comic: DD's mask is an integral part of the costume.
Movie: It's a pull-on hood, a horribly uncertain method of retention for such an acrobatic hero. But then, if the way the mask affixed wasn't so insecure, Matt couldn't have been unmasked so easily, not once but twice, during the movie.
Elektra stabs Matt through the left shoulder, totally penetrating the scapula. Matt drops to the ground in shock, he can barely move. But later he holds himself on ropes over an abyss (with his left arm), does gymnastics, blocks Bullseye's full-power kicks (with his left arm). Remember the movie's opening image shows his blood dripping down dozens of feet of church roof and wall. I can believe a man has super-senses. It's called magical realism. You ask me to believe a normal man - and that's what Daredevil is, no super-strength, no Wolverine-type healing factor - can still be up and running, engaging in martial arts battles, hours after having a steel rod punched all the way through his shoulder blade and losing, oh, five pints of blood, that's not magical realism. That's impossible.
Final absurdity: Matt will kill a rapist but not the Kingpin. We could debate the morality of the former death. But when the man who's murdered the only two people you've ever loved is helpless on his knees in front of you, he knows your secret identity, he's saying, "I'm going to get you," you know he means it, if you leave him alive he's going to kill you and/or more people you care about....it's not like he's giving you a whole lot of choice. But Matt proclaims self-righteously, "I'm not the bad guy," and walks out. No, you're a moron. This after throwing Bullseye from a 100-foot tall window and across a street onto a police car, which probably did kill him. Dumb plot twist. But par for the course in this movie.