Movie Article

Ben There, Dumb That

''Daredevil'''s four fatal flaws. Here's why Ben Affleck's hit movie is the silliest superhero flick yet, says Brian Hiatt

Ben Affleck, Daredevil | IN THE RED Affleck (shown here with a dying Elektra, played by Garner) could have used some womanly advice on the look of his costume
Image credit: Daredevil: Twentieth Century Fox
IN THE RED Affleck (shown here with a dying Elektra, played by Garner) could have used some womanly advice on the look of his costume

''Daredevil'''s four fatal flaws

The nation's No. 1 movie got one thing right: Daredevil's pec-hugging bodysuit, helpfully inscribed with the telltale initials ''DD,'' is unsightly enough to have been designed by a blind man.

But that's about it for realism in ''Daredevil.'' Even graded on a generous comic-book-movie curve, the film exhibits an uncommon disregard for the dictates of logic, common sense, and physics (Jennifer Garner's sturdy leather sportsbra excluded). Sure, the movie's $70 million-plus take suggests its lapses didn't faze many moviegoers. But even the most ardent Marvel Comics worshippers shouldn't have to put up with the level of silliness we've uncovered [warning: spoilers ahead].

LEGAL PROBLEMS Justice may be blind, but ''Daredevil'''s sloppy take on the legal system is just jaw-droppingly dumb. Ben Affleck's Matt Murdock must be the ditsiest lawyer since Ally McBeal; he, and the moviemakers, don't know whether he's a private attorney or a government prosecutor. The film establishes Murdock as a partner in a law firm, only to cut to a scene of him as a finger-pointing, speech-making prosecutor in a rapist's criminal trial. Then, when the rapist gets off (the jury must have been as confused as the audience), Murdock puts on his S&M outfit and pushes him in front of the C train. Now that's due process.

MOURNING BECOMES ELEKTRA ''Daredevil'' offers the most miraculous resurrection since Paula Abdul found a TV gig. In the film's climactic fight, Colin Farrell's Bullseye shreds Elektra's throat and impales her on her own sword; we see her heart stop. So how does she come back to life at the end? When Elektra croaked in the '80s ''Daredevil'' comics, a group of helpful ninjas revived her in a magical ritual. But there's nary a ninja to be found here. More puzzling: Instead of expressing bewilderment at his girlfriend's miraculous return from the grave, Affleck simply murmurs something about ''hope.'' Our hope? No ''Daredevil 2.''

POWER OF ATTORNEY ''Daredevil'''s makers touted their star as an all-too-human superhero who combats the aches and pains of crime-fighting by gulping Slim-Shady-worthy doses of Vicodin. So why do they betray their concept by showing Daredevil floating around Manhattan like a cross between Spider-Man and Mighty Mouse? Daredevil, whose only superhuman abilities are enhanced senses, is shown dodging bullets with a Neo-like ease, casually hurling himself from the top of skyscrapers, and making absurd 300-foot leaps from rooftop to rooftop. Forget Vicodin -- what this guy needs is a coffin.

OPEN SECRET Matt Murdock seems to have trouble understanding the ''secret'' part of ''secret identity.'' Sure, being a blind dude helps keep people from figuring out that you're a costumed crusader by night -- as long as you don't blow your cover by flaunting your abilities in broad daylight. But that's exactly what Murdock does in front of dozens of strangers in his cutesy first meeting with Elektra, engaging in an elaborate martial arts brawl that no blind man could ever attempt. Meanwhile, Elektra adds to the scene's foolishness with her alarming comfort about pummelling a cane-toting, shades-wearing sightless guy -- in public, no less. Talk about a bad blind date.

What did you think of ''Daredevil''?

Originally posted Feb 26, 2003