Why I Love: Daredevil – The Director’s Cut Simon Fitzjohn August 8, 2012 Features, Why I Love 8539 With news that The Man Without Fear may be getting the reboot treatment courtesy of director Joe Carnahan sweeping the web this week, I thought it high time to get my ass in gear and write this piece. You see, for my sins, I absolutely love the 2003 version of Daredevil – or the Director’s Cut to be exact. I know I am in the minority here, but I have bit my lip and kept a dignified silence ever since its release while others have all-too gladly taken pot shots at the Ben Affleck vehicle. But while watching a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory, in which Sheldon made some ‘gag’ about using a time machine to go back and erase Affleck’s Daredevil from history, my keyboard fingers began to get twitchy. And then came the Carnahan news and I was off. Now before I get any comic book fans on my back, I would like to point out right from the off that I am a huge Daredevil fan. In fact, DD is the only comic book character I have stuck with throughout my life, ever since I was captivated by the Daredevil/Gladiator special in a Marvel annual my folks bought me back in the 70s. Yes, lawyer Matt Murdock does have powers of sorts in that his remaining senses are heightened after he is blinded as a child. But, much like Batman, Daredevil is a lone vigilante, prowling the streets for justice and all-too happy to dish out a vicious beatdown. And that has always appealed to me more than someone who can fly, or is impervious to pain or something along those lines. Daredevil the character has always been pretty grounded in reality, and that is where the film scores reasonably well. In fact, the first time we see the superhero in the movie pretty much sums up why I like the concept, as a battered and bloody Daredevil crashes through a church roof to fall at the altar. We also see Murdock’s alter-ego popping pills to numb the pain, resting in a recovery tank to overcome the aches and bruises, as well as (shock horror), gladly letting a villain die on train tracks before his eyes. The original cinema version did reasonably well at the box office and was an enjoyable ride – fast-paced and full of action. But the director’s cut, which inserts an extra 30 minutes of footage, is a very different beast altogether and certainly hits the spot as far as this fanboy is concerned. Yes, the basic plot is the same – Daredevil trying to take down the Kingpin, as well as locking horns with the villainous Bullseye, while trying to get to grips in a more romantic sense with the mysterious Elektra. But those extra 30 minutes include more violence and a lot more exposition, as well as numerous nuggets for Murdock fans to nod in satisfaction. Interestingly, a lot of those brief moments – a short scene with an exhausted Daredevil being comforted by his mother (a nun), the inclusion of Karen Page, more gags from partner Foggy Nelson, were excised by the studio as they ‘didn’t get it’ – or so the interesting documentary on the disc tells us. The fight scenes (of which there are many) also up the ante when it comes to bonecrunching violence, earning the film a 15 rating in its Director’s Cut form, which makes a pleasant change from the PG-baiting action we so often get. Daredevil is a dark, troubled character, with a past positively dripping in tragedy, and that should be mirrored on screen. If anything, director Mark Steven Johnson’s effort doesn’t go far enough in that direction, which is why I will still await Carnahan’s version with interest (if it goes ahead). So, on to the casting. First off, let’s talk about Affleck as Murdock/Daredevil. Until his career rebirth with the likes of The Town in recent times, I think it is fair to say Affleck was a figure of fun when it came to the Hollywood A-list. Now this was probably down to his dalliance with Jennifer Lopez (and the awful Gigli), but his stock was pretty low nonetheless. But as The Man Without Fear I think Affleck is pretty much spot-on – physically he looks the part and he handles both roles well. And, for me, he was always going to get a reasonable ride due to him being an avowed fan of the comics. A lot was made of Andrew Garfield’s childhood Spiderman fantasies, but it is worth pointing out that anyone who picks up the Daredevil ‘Guardian Devil’ graphic novel, penned by Kevin Smith, will see that the effusive preface is written by none other than Affleck – and this was before the movie even went into pre-production. So big Ben is fine by me, which brings us on to Jennifer Garner as Elektra. For many people her role and performance were the highlight of the film and she indeed does deliver the goods, but that may be the array of enjoyable costumes clouding my judgement. For sure she made enough of an impression to warrant a movie all of her own, but the less said about that the better. Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin was another casting decision that split audiences – taking a big, black beast of an actor to play a big, white beast of a character. That didn’t bother me one jot, and Clarke Duncan has an impressive presence in his albeit limited screen time. A more memorable villainous role is taken by Colin Farrell as Bullseye, the psychotic assassin for hire. Bullseye is a character that has echoed throughout the various Daredevil story arcs over the years and he is brought enjoyably to life here as a twitchy, violent, quick-witted and quick-tongued scumbag. There are also enjoyable turns from Jon Favreau as comic foil Foggy Nelson, and, in the Director’s Cut at least, Coolio as a murder suspect being defended by Murdock. I’m not going to come out and say that Daredevil: The Director’s Cut is a perfect film, as it quite clearly isn’t. There is still too much clunky dialogue, and a handful of scenes that still make my toes curl in embarrassment – the kid’s playground duel between Murdock and Elektra for example. But an awful lot is right with it – including ditching the god-awful fireside love scene between the two leads. Stan Lee also pops up in one of his customary cameos, and there is neat soundtrack from Graeme Revell. No doubt if a reboot/remake/reimagining/whatever you want to call it of Daredevil ever does get off the ground, I will be there opening night, front row centre. But until then, this version will suit this humble Hornhead fan very nicely, thank you very much.