Daredevil DVD Review
By Hervé St-Louis
August 4, 2003 - 15:50
When the Daredevil movie came out, earlier this year, many predicted it
would fail and have top recuperate its cost on the wide screen DVD
release. Whether or not the DVD version of last February's blockbuster
will guarantee, the film's solvency is a discussion for another time.
The movie was successful enough to warrant two other episodes, one
following the continuing saga of Daredevil and one for Elektra.
Elektra is very important when looking at this DVD's marketing campaign.
The folks at 20th Century Fox would have probably given actress
Jennifer Garner, who interprets Elektra top billing, if it the fact that
this is a movie about Daredevil primarily did not block them, and that
his name is one the box. Nevertheless, actor Ben Affleck, who plays
Daredevil is almost an afterthought in the DVD.
Perhaps Ben Affleck's lacklustre support from fans and the marketing
team behind the DVD release highlight that he really wasn't the best
choice for the role. Unlike Batman, in the comic books, Daredevil has
always been the prime attraction. Just like Spider-man, he has a strong
support cast and major opponents, but the reader's interest is always
directed at the central character.
Elektra is a strong character but she is not the only major figure in
the Daredevil universe, though she remains one of the most important
figures. This is especially true when one remembers that she was not the
first femme fatale to cross Daredevil in the rooftops of New York City
and in his bed. The difference with Elektra and the Black Widow, the
first femme fatale to have dated Daredevil was the writer.
Elektra is associated with the seminal work on the character. Black
Widow is not. Few can accurately name who was responsible for pairing
Daredevil and the Black Widow. However, every Daredevil fan, and
increasingly, his new non comic book fans know that a certain Frank
Miller created Elektra in the what many consider the best stories about
In comparison to Jennifer Garner, actors Michael Clarke Duncan and Colin
Farrell, the actors who interpreted Daredevil's opponents, the Kingpin
and Bullseye, received modest and appropriate billing on the DVD back
cover art. It seems that 20th Century Fox will not make a cool
butt-kicking babe movie with those two. They continuously hype garner's
looks in various parts of the DVD. I think we get the point.
Beyond the cover of the DVD, one will find two discs full of extras and
other goodies. Upon installing the first DVD disc in a computer drive,
the DVD-rom features will start. It is an annoying feature. 90% of the
people who play this movie for the first time will want to get directly
to the movie track, as opposed to playing some games and viewing other
features available for computer users.
The DVD-rom starts with a Flash introduction using comic book
illustrations and pictures from the movie to fake an animated trailer.
For an animatic, this type of thing works, but on a blockbuster's movie,
it looks very cheesy. One thing studios should always remember is how
the material they think in cool will look in six months. If they had,
they would have scrapped the animatic-like Flash animation.
Designers probably created the DVD-rom's contents with Flash MX.
However, they decided to block the zooming options, usually available
with Flash MX-based presentations. This makes the readability of several
sections, such as the first page of the Comic Book History feature
difficult. The anti-aliasing added to the small texts increase the
discomfort. The next pages are better. The navigational interface is
The short historical recaps are great for new Daredevil fans. The recaps
mention several Daredevil creators and a complete publishing history of
the character is available. There's also an origin piece on Daredevil.
The sections contain familiar images from the comic books. A greater
variety of images would have been more pleasurable rather than the
constant showcasing of recent artists.
The next section features short bios on the four major characters from
the film with the first comic book appearance of the characters. Again,
the text is very small and this time. The red backgrounds amplify the
readability problems. The backgrounds are probably from current
Daredevil artist Alex Maleev.
Marvel Comics, the publishers of Daredevil, which probably designed much
of the contents on the DVD-rom really wants to promote their series to
non comic book readers by displaying the realistic style of the artist.
This is a good strategy. However, making the comic book "acceptable" and
beautiful to non comic book readers, may ignore the campiness of the
medium that attracts many of them.
The other DVD-rom sections include links to the official Web sites of
the Daredevil movie, the X-Men Two movie and Marvel Comics. Another
section features desktop images that can be saved on one's computer
drive. In that section, users can link to one of ®Marvel's dot comics.
Marvel Comics should have polished their dot comics before putting the
link on the DVD.
The dot comic features a story where by Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev
where Kingpin's wife hides him away. The dot comic is a Macromedia Flash
MX presentation. The dot comic is a Flash-based comic book where the
visitor changes the pages by clicking on the page indicator or the
panels. Each strip also zooms in, when pressed on. The dot comics'
interface cuts the pages at the bottom.
There are no page indications on the dot comic. One never knows on which
page one is. Also, the pages take a long time to load, and beyond the
first introduction, no progress bar lets the user know how much more is
left before we can switch the pages. It also seems like the pages in the
back do not load on the user's computer, until he actively seeks them.
This should not happen.
Fortunately, Marvel Comics' designers replaced the texts bubbles from
the comic book with Flash-based ones. The compression artifacts that
diminish the quality of the illustrations do not impede on the
readability of the comic book. There is also an auto pop up feature
letting users decide whether they want the panels to remain static until
one clicks them or to make them zoom in on their own.
The final part of the DVD-rom, is a sensory game. Users go through a
series of skill tests testing their memory, their sense of touch, sight
and hearing. These games are very well designed although the interface
is not optimal. They were available on the Daredevil movie Web site
before 20th Century Fox released the film. Although, Flash-based games,
they mimic the powers and limits of Daredevil very well.
The Movie Tracks
The opening of the movie feature the familiar Twentieth Century Fox logo
morphing into an approximation of what is perceived by Daredevil's
sonar. The menus on the first disc and the second, feature animated
clips portraying a back alley, Daredevil's normal office. Unlike the
opening 20th Century Fox animation, these are not as sharp and look too
digital, probably because film grain was not added to the clips.
Nonetheless, they are enjoyable animation and as elaborate as other 20th
Century Fox menu sequences. The studio is one of the few to devote so
efforts on DVD menu animations. The theme of the menus' interface is
braille writing. Various street sounds are added to capture the
cacophony effect of Daredevil's sensitive senses.
When starting the film be wary of the volume. It often seems that the
DVDs have lower sound levels than what is available on a television set
because the level in a DVD disc is more accurate to the levels heard
elsewhere. However, the level found in the opening 20th Century Fox
animation can be deceiving. The normal volume for the rest of the DVD is
much lower than the opening track. Don't lower the volume!
The movie track options are excellent. Perhaps this was to compensate
for the lack of extra scenes rumoured to be included in the film. One of
the major criticism of the film, was it short length. Jennifer Garner,
whom the studios based their entire marketing on, has but one fight
scene in the entire film, if you discount her beautiful sai session and
her merry-go-round infatuation scene with Ben Affleck.
It seems that many scenes planned for the DVD were never filmed at all.
Therefore, director Mark Steven Johnson included as much as he could in
his film. Nonetheless, as can be guessed on the full length commentary,
by Johnson and producer Gary Foster, this movie was a labour of love. No
matter the faults many have found with the plot of the film, its
director gave his best shot.
Much of the commentaries are lively, although a few seem to veer off
topic. We also get a glimpse of the politics behind 20the Century Fox.
Hardcore fans always appreciate these "lapses." Many of the best
comments by Mark Steven Johnson are when he anticipates weaker areas of
the film. He apologizes and worries so much, that one feels really bad
for him. It humanizes the film very much.
There are several tracks available. There is an English DTS sound track,
which is not very common in commercial movies. If you have the proper
equipment, use this sound option. Of course there are Dolby versions in
French and Spanish, for the North American version of the DVD. Finally,
the coolest version is the visual impaired cut. This is very
appropriate, considering Daredevil is a blind character.
There is a text commentary option, containing much background
information on the characters and the movie. The other track option, the
extended viewing option contains production notes and comments on the
visual effects used in the film by John Kilkenny, the effects' producer.
Whenever viewers click on one icons, featurettes containing much groovy
information on the film appear.
This movie marks the second time Daredevil was adapted into a live
action movie by a major studio. There exists a cult independent movie by
a French director, but few have seen it. It also mysteriously
disappeared from several Internet sources. The other adaptation of
Daredevil into live action was in the Hulk TV movie, The Trial of the
Incredible Hulk, which starred the cast from the 1970s.
The Daredevil in the TV Hulk movie wore black spandex and the action
scenes were good, for a 1989 audience. However, the movie has not aged
well since. The folks at 20th Century Fox almost changed Daredevil's
costume colour to black. They finally decided to leave the character
red, although leather replaced his spandex. It works. The one major
annoyance, though, is the bandana mask.
Daredevil is Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer, who fights villains in the
court room during the day and at night as a vigilante. Originally, a
poor's man Spider-man, Daredevil gained notoriety in the early 1980s,
when writer-artist Frank Miller took over the series, at first, he
subtly introduced mature themes for an older audience. As the book was
not a big seller at Marvel Comics, they allowed the experiment to
Miller borrowed the Kingpin permanently from the Spider-man world, where
other writers perceived him as a joke. Arch opponent Bulleyes returned
and Elektra, the ninja assassin, made her first appearances. Over the
next few years, the continual fight among the four characters thrilled
fans. Miller partnered with several top creators, such as David
Mazzucchelli, Klaus Janson
Since then, Daredevil has become one of Marvel Comics' most respected
and acclaimed series. Unlike Spider-man or X-men series, creators on
Daredevil were not necessarily fan favourites, when starting, but they
needed to be competent, creative and smart. Since the departure of Frank
Miller and his associates, creators have tried, whether they admit or
not to top the work of Miller, or at least add to the legend.
This constant effervescence surrounding Daredevil has made the series
the perfect fodder for director Mark Steven Johnson. In the movie,
several of the best ideas and elements of the character were used to
mesh one story. One can scent the rich subtext and quality background of
the character, throughout the film. However, borrowing from so many
rich sources has not made the movie the best.
The movie follows much of the folklore developed in the comic books.
This is great for hardcore fans but not always good for other viewers.
Too much time is spent on building the character's background as opposed
to straight storytelling. Outside the main plot, not much time is spent
showing Daredevil. The super hero material almost seems to intrude on
the lives of Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios.
Mark Steven Johnson, credited for the script of the film, used a large
amount of clich®s in the plot of the movie. For example, the burning
message, left by Daredevil was explained by the director as an homage to
the movie The Crow. Well, the scene makes little sense as Mark Steven
Johnson has not characterized Daredevil in other parts of the movie as
the type of vigilante who leaves messages behind.
Much of the "justice is blind dialogue in the court room lent a high
level of cheesiness to the movie. Matt Murdock, might be in his mid 30s
in the movie. He has probably practised law for a decade now. One would
expect that after so much time as a lawyer, he would have stopped using
such cheap clich®s, especially as a blind man. It gave the film a tone
of "hey, we're trying to be hip and relevant, look at us."
The other main problem in this movie is Ben Affleck. It's not that he is
not a good actor. The problem is that much his Daredevil acting is not
believable. The singular example of this is the scene where he crawls on
the floor of the church, in the beginning of the film. All suspension
of disbelief is lost. It looks like an actor crawling on a floor,
following the instructions of a director, instead of an injured
The second disc from the set includes many things DVD fans expect and
more. There are two main sections. One is about the comic book, the
other about the movie. The first noteworthy extra, is the feature on the
movie section is the short clip on movie advisor Tom Sullivan.
Sullivan, a blind man since birth, counselled the crews on the topic of
blindness. The worst part about the clip, is that it's too short.
There's a good behind the scenes section on the film, unfortunately, it
reuses too much contents from other parts of the DVD, such as the Fox
movie prequel, hosted by the Jennifer Garner. Included on the disc are
dailies, and screen tests by the various actors. Some even have
multi-angle features. The only let down, is the high compression rate on
A good section of interest to the visitors of this site is the still
gallery, collecting pre production elements from the movie.
Surprisingly, the film's storyboard has much more the trappings of a
comic book, than a traditional storyboard. The highly stylized panel
layout seems to not have caused much problems to the production team.
Other galleries contain model sheets, prop, costume, production, and set
The section on the comic book contains a very good interview with
several Daredevil comic book creators, such as the character's inventor,
Stan Lee, Frank Miller, film director Kevin Smith. Past and presents
artists and writers such as John Romita Senior and Junior, Brian Bendis,
Joe Quesada, Dave Mack and Gene Colan are there too. Each contributor
shares some of their thoughts on the character and their work.
It's always fun to see Stan Lee talk about Marvel Comics' characters. He
always seems to have a good anecdote related to each character, making a
compelling argument against those who think he just likes to take away
others' credits. As any good communicator, and he is one of the best, he
succeeds in selling the idea of the comic book medium to an audience
who seems to have forgotten its existence.
The other sections on the comic book section of the disc are less
interesting, although the animated montage on Daredevil's senses
includes some of the campy illustrations that were virtually absent from
the DVD-rom section. However, the compression on the illustrations has
softened them too much.
Many called daredevil the "underdog" of the super hero movies of 2003.
It was dodged by complaints that it would startle Marvel Comics'
aggressive foray into live action feature film. Daredevil did not garner
the media coverage and the blockbuster aura of neither Spider-man, the
X-Men nor the Hulk. Instead, it carved itself its usual niche where
collectors savour it as an acquired taste.
Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15