Marqus Rice’s review published on Letterboxd:
This rating is reflective of the Daredevil (2003) Director’s Cut. Which is the version you should watch.
The Daredevil Netflix series came are reignited superhero fans passions for the Man Without Fear, so much so that even when the show was abruptly canceled, the #SaveDaredevil movement was strong enough that Kevin Feige decided to bring back Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio respectively as Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk for their Marvel Cinematic Universe debuts. Given how great the Netflix version of Daredevil was, you’d be remiss if you’d forgotten all about this 2003 adaptation of the character starring Ben Affleck. And this movie came out at that weird time where studios were still figuring out Superhero movies. Sure X-Men, Blade, and Spider-Man had been modest to insane Box office hits. Studios began experimenting with other characters around this time like Hulk, Fantastic Four, and The Punisher. For 20th Century Fox, after X-Men their next venture into Superheroes was tackling Daredevil. Matt Murdock, The Blind Lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen, who thanks to an accident with toxic chemicals that left him blind as a kid, found that his other senses were turned up to 9 giving him superhero strength and senses. After his father is brutally murdered, Murdock decides to take up a cause and go after those who would do the innocent wrong. As a lawyer by day and vigilante by night, Daredevil goes after those who Justice cannot incarcerate.
Daredevil was always a very compelling hero. And that explanation of his powers and reasoning is enough to want to check out a movie from this character. But the end result we got back in 2003 was so subpar, so silly that no one wanted to return to it for more than 10 years until the excellent Netflix series. This is how I view the original version. A Lot of this film feels rushed. In particular the romance between Elektra and Daredevil. Who literally meet in the most awkward and stalkerish way possible. But then we get the infamous playground scene. Which is a showcase of how the movie’s tone is off. Daredevil feels a bit darker than some of the other comic book fare we’ve gotten prior to this release, and yet this ridiculous scene feels totally out of place. Not to mention the multiple times Murdock who is supposed to be blind obviously reveals he’s Daredevil during this fight. The one scene that feels horrible as well is the rooftop scene. When Elektra and Daredevil kiss, Matt hears someone being mugged but sex is more important. So he abandons the person in trouble. The movie just had to have a sex scene and a tame one at that. It’s quite insulting for a comic book movie. Every character in this movie feels one note, Bullseye is a goofy marksman, who the movie offers zero explanation as to how he gets his abilities. And that’s another thing, these people’s powers are never thoroughly explained. Elektra, Bullseye, and Daredevil can leap between buildings but how? They don’t have super strength. The original cut of this movie isn’t great and is worthy of the criticisms it gets for it’s tone and some of the more silly action moments it has to offer.
But then we get into the director’s cut. And I must say, this is a guilty pleasure for me. Daredevil flows so much better with the added 30 minutes of runtime. The issue I had about the sex scene between Elektra and Daredevil is thankfully removed. But it also does something the original didn’t do as well. It shows Matt’s double life more effectively. New scenes are included to show Matt as a lawyer helping out this Coolio character. And this added storyline is an important piece of the puzzle to me because it more effectively shows Kingpin’s reach around Hell’s Kitchen. I like Michael Clarke Duncan in this movie. (This may be the first example of a major comic book character’s race being changed. Ahh much simpler times when people had no platform to complain about these things!) But to me he’s much more villainous in the Director’s Cut. The entire movie just flows better, and thanks to the Director’s Cut getting the R rating, tonally it feels more appropriate. Now there are still moments like the park scene that will still get you to roll your eyes but it feels like an actual movie as opposed to a mess of a movie.
One thing I didn’t get into is the costumes. Well I know Ben Affleck hated his suit and I must agree there’s just a little too much leather in it for my liking. And that could go for Elektra and Bullseye look in the movie too. I wish Bullseye didn’t have the scar in his head as opposed to it being a skully of a target instead. He’d then look like a badass. Duncan looked great in all his suits. One of the things this movie did that I liked was killing Elektra. That always stunned me as a kid. “How could they kill our hero's girlfriend?! But then they make it seem like she survived by somehow leaving the braille necklace for Matt at the right rooftop magically for him to retrieve. Way to ruin the tension. As for the soundtrack, well it’s definitely of it’s time featuring a lot of Evanescence and Hoobastank. I do like the main Daredevil theme however. There’s no reason to re-watch the original theatrical version of this film. Should you ever get the urge to revisit this movie check out the director’s cut. Or do what I do, and just rewatch the Netflix series which is far superior.
Elektra Review: Coming Soon