Daredevil: Director’s Cut (2003) Movie Review


Ben Affleck in Daredevil (2003) Movie Image

With the news that Ben Affleck will be the new Batman in the upcoming “Superman/Batman” film, I thought it a good time to go back and look at Affleck’s first foray into the superhero genre with Fox’s “Daredevil.” Now before you all start groaning and clicking back to the front page, I’m reviewing the “Director’s Cut” of the movie, which is actually an almost completely different film, and is better for it. Before I start, I want to say that I own both versions, and I actually am one of the few fans that thought Mark Steven Johnson’s 2003 take on the character wasn’t bad at all. Better than Ang Lee’s “Hulk”, which was all over the place. “Daredevil” had some issues with floaty CGI characters and an eye-rolling playground fight between Affleck’s Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil) and wife-to-be Jennifer Garner’s Elektra Natchios, but the cast, the tone, and the setting were all on point.

The 2004 “Director’s Cut” follows the same overall story: blind lawyer Matt Murdock fights for the law by day, and at night takes justice into his own hands as the vigilante Daredevil. The major story beats are all still there, but the journey has changed slightly. Even director Mark Steven Johnson has called the “Director’s Cut” the “Story version of the film.” And it’s an apt description. Where the theatrical version was more about telling a rousing story, with action, romance, and some humor, this cut has all of that, too, but adds more character development for Matt and his law partner Foggy Nelson, played by “Iron Man” director John Favreau.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck in Daredevil (2003) Movie Image

In this version of the film, there is a case involving a possibly wrongly accused man (played by Coolio, no less) that connects to the larger issue of the Kingpin’s reign of crime. The murder is actually heard by Murdock, and is shown in a way that is very eerie and serves to highlight how Matt can never truly escape his abilities. The confessional scenes are gone, and we get some new scenes with Matt and Foggy actually investigating this case, as well as more scenes showing the Kingpin’s brutality. To this day, I say casting Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin was the ONLY choice for the character, and he brought a lot to the role.

The other major change to the film is that it’s less about the budding (and ultimately tragic) romance between Matt and Elektra, and more about his relentless search for justice, and his quest to take down the Kingpin. There’s an interrogation scene with Matt confronting a witness where Matt uses his enhanced hearing to listen for changes in heartbeat to tell if they’re lying, and Matt has recently found out from reporter Ben Urich (Joe Pantoliano) that the witness was indeed lying, and is out to figure out how. It’s a great addition, and adds to the overall narrative.

Michael Clarke Duncan and Ben Affleck in Daredevil (2003) Movie Image

Like in the original version, we see Matt return to the office the morning after his night with Elektra. It would seem that it was the whole “I’m not the bad guy” thing got to him down in the dumps, but in the new cut, it’s more than that. He never got that night with Elektra. He left her on the rooftop to do his vigilante thing, and the next time he sees her, it’s at the ball to say sorry and not “I found you.” These little moments are what tie the overall story together much better in my opinion. Of course we also get some extended fight scenes, including the final fight with the Kingpin, which is just David and Goliath.

“Daredevil” is not a perfect film, but it’s far from the complete and abysmal failure its spinoff “Elektra” is, and definitely has more positive stuff than negative going for it. Granted, the fact that Affleck had famously stated that the costume was a source of humiliation for him, and wouldn’t do it again probably rubbed some people the wrong way and add to the stigma of the film. Now 9-10 years later, Affleck is about to take back his word and don a costume that is more famous and therefore more daunting. He has to make his Batman different than Bale’s, but still infuse it with heart, which he did pretty well with Matt Murdock/Daredevil. He has his work cut out for him but it’s not a completely impossible task should he go back and look at some of the nuances he had in “Daredevil: Director’s Cut”.

So if you’re on the fence about Bat-Affleck check out this underappreciated flick. It may just change your mind. Until then, I await the first pic of the suit, and to hear his Batman voice, and I invoke “The Brokeback Mountain Clause.”

Mark Steven Johnson (director) / Mark Steven Johnson (screenplay)
CAST: Ben Affleck … Matt Murdock / Daredevil
Jennifer Garner … Elektra Natchios
Colin Farrell … Bullseye
Michael Clarke Duncan … Wilson Fisk / The Kingpin
Jon Favreau … Franklin ‘Foggy’ Nelson
Ellen Pompeo … Karen Page
Joe Pantoliano … Ben Urich

Buy Daredevil: Unrated Director's Cut on DVD or Blu-ray

Author: Dedpool

Movies, Comics, Anime and toons. I'm all about it. Love to read and write too.
  • clarkspark

    Never seen this director’s cut, will have to check it out.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

      It’s definitely better and more story driven than the theatrical cut.

  • Aegon the Conqueror

    I’m one of the few people thats actually a fan of the daredevil movie. Pre marvel studios era the directors cut was the best marvel superhero kovie out there.

    • Jim

      That is because you are an idiot.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

      Definitely closest to source material and tone.

  • http://spybubblez.es/spybubble-gratis/ Lachlan Castellano

    this cut has all of that, too, but adds more character development for
    Matt and his law partner Foggy Nelson, played by “Iron Man” director
    John Favreau.

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    • ARGO


  • Jim

    Ben Affleck is not talented. He hasn’t done anything of merit in his life. He won nothing for Argo, he didn’t really make that piece of lies anyway, the studios did with some fat Jews who wanted to piss on Iran. Ben Affleck ruins everything he touches including Jennifer Garner. Batman is officially dead. Thanks Hollywood.

  • Gary W Muthig Jr

    I always liked this

  • Daniel Brennan

    A great character is destroyed 15 minutes in. Daredevil is always at odds with the Punisher because as a Lawyer he believes in the justice system. But watches someone get run over by a subway train in the beginning of the movie. He does not kill. Movie sucked, was terribly casted, tried to fit 40+ years of continuity into one film.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

      Same could be said of Burton’s Batman then. Also they weren’t trying to fit all the continuity in one film. It’s called cherry picking. All the adaptations do it. Look at the Dark Knight Trilogy. That had stuff from all over the Batman universe.

      • Daniel Brennan

        I know it didn’t try to put EVERYTHING in Captain literal. Its called exaggerating for humor. Please enlighten me about Burtons Batman. Do you mean the Joker dying? If I remember right he was holding his hand and couldn’t because a gargoyle statue was attached to his leg. Daredevil actually stood on the platform and taunted the criminal about his impending death. No way DD ever does that. Its such a character breaker and nothing any DD writer has let DD, a lawyer do.

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

          Well in Batman there was the clocktower fight wehre he grabs the guy with his legs after faking a fall, and throws him to his imminent death. Then in Returns where he put the bomb down the clowns pants and kicked him down a manhole.

  • Daniel Brennan

    Wow do I disagree with this. Better than Ang Lee’s Hulk? Now Hulk was far from perfect, but its story was not all over the place. This Daredevil was so bad.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

      What I meant by all over the place was that it was trying to do too much. Psychological thriller, monster flick, cbm, but never found it’s true calling. The directors cut of DD was a much more coherent piece. That said you are wholly entitled to your opinion.

      • Daniel Brennan

        I don’t believe a movie MUST have a calling, or be pigeon holed into one. Hulk does touch on all those you mentioned and that’s what I like about it. DD, and I own the directors cut, because I’m a comic geek at heart, and good or bad I own it, is so poorly casted. Besides Affleck, Garner seems as Elektra as I do Bruce Lee; Bullseye? Bullshit! I hate when actors do the oh I quiver and my eyes shake and bug out so you know I’m crazy. And DD beats the Kingpin in a straight up fight? Spiderman has had trouble with the Kingpin. And DD’s sense of touch gave him super strength and agility? No the blind guy, Stick, taught Matt to master his senses, and the training gave him his fighting and agility. He has no super strength, like Batman.

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

          No it doesn’t but if it’s going to wear multiple hats it should do it well or at least balance it out. Hulk didn’t, it was mostly a psych drama and then would switch wildly into comicbook/action flick and then back to the drama. Like you I’m a completionist so i own it. And I own Elektra.
          I agree Garner was horrible casting. Farrell made Bullseye fun for me cause normally he has no real personality. As for the changes to comic book canon things change when adapted. Sure they could’ve thrown stick in, but it would’ve been just as unbeleivable to have someone with the same abilities just happen to find Matt, and trian him as it is to believe he trained himself. In a comic you can get away with certain things that would lose a movie going audience. Also they didn;t say it gave him superhuman strength, but that it was heightened so basically peak human, like Cap is in the comics. When you only have 2 hours to explain stuff things need to bechanged or cut out. In a perfect film we would’ve gotten stick, and explaination of who he is and a training montage. THEN the connective tissue for the Elektra movie would’ve been stornger. But oh well.
          Also the Kingpin thing, that was the comics, this Kingpin has never fought Spiderman, and also isn’t superhumanly strong. He’s big and muscular but it’s all realistic. It puts him in a strength class beyond DD but not beyond human.

          • Daniel Brennan

            Great info, bro!! Totally forgot those moments from batman films. Makes me want to watch them, and angry at them. As you said its all opinions and when it comes to Hulk I’m in the minority, as I like it. One thing I meant with cramming continuity with DD is I saw no reason to give all of the Elektra, bullseye, kingpin story in one movie. I look at amazing Spiderman and imagine introducing and killing Gwen Stacy in one movie. Flesh it out, let it build, you know?

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            I liked Hulk too, but it could’ve been better. Incredible Hulk was an improvement. And I totally agree with Joy about shoving all that in. Its like they wanted all the iconic stuff but didn’t know how to for it in. Well the Netflix show should be much better.

          • Daniel Brennan

            Well we disagree there. Incredible hulk was a drop for me. Hulk looked terrible, Norton was ok, but Tyler and Hurt didn’t work. Fight in Harlem and birth of the Leader was cool. Really liked avengers hulk/banner best. Could build on that, imo.

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            Well I think he looked good in Incredible, but a little TOO ripped. I liked the leaness they gave him, but I agree that Tyler was off. Hurt I liked, but I liked Elliot in the part better, and loved the guy playing Sterns. In full agreement that Ruffalo and Aveners Hulk was the best! I hope they do build from there.