Daredevil: Director’s Cut – a belated review

Back when I used to read comic books, one of my favourite Marvel titles was Daredevil.

So it pained me greatly when I first went to see the film Daredevil at the cinema, in 2003. Staring Ben Affleck, it was an incoherent mess, a string of bad action sequences without any real story to link them. It was a horrible movie, and what really annoyed me about it was that having made it, no-one else was going to make Daredevil the movie properly.

A couple of years later, the director’s cut came out on DVD, and I (and many others) ignored it, believing that you can’t polish a turd.

However, on seeing it discounted recently in The Works, for 2.99, I thought “what the hell, how bad can it be?”

Not bad at all, is the answer. Stepping forward a bit, I’ll tell you something I didn’t realise when I watched (and enjoyed) this version. Unlike many Director’s Cut versions, this wasn’t the result of a return to the editing room, some years later. It turns out that this is the original Director’s cut that he intended to be released theatrically. Unfortunately, it was felt by the producers that the audience for this kind of movie didn’t need plot, but action, action, action. Anything that slowed the film down was cut, with the exception of an *added* love scene between Daredevil and Electra, which was not in the original script. The 127 minute film was cut to 90 minutes, the violence was toned down to avoid an R rating, and so a decent film was ruined.

So this is truly the original film Mark Steven Johnson set out to make, and very good it is too. The “new” footage makes sense of the whole thing, and fleshes out the characters. Matt Murdoch’s partner, Foggy Nelson, and reporter Ben Urich – both important characters in the comic – now have their cut scenes restored, the Kingpin is now the main villain, rather than just a bogeyman, and the film is all the better for it.

If you get a chance to grab a copy of this, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Sorry it took me so long to get around to it.

6 Comments

  1. July 27, 2010

    Oh, thanks! I watched the original film on the basis of your song and realised that it didn’t match, this probably explains it. I’ll look for the director’s cut…

  2. chris
    July 27, 2010

    Ah. Although Daredevil is now a good film, and well worth seeing it still will not match my song.

    Rare for me, Elektra’s Song is not based on a movie, but on the graphic novel The Elektra Saga, which itself is actually a mashup of bits of stories from the original Daredevil comic that featured Elektra.

    Although the film does feature a couple of scenes that might have actually been storyboarded from the comic, the way Matt Murdoch and Elektra originally met is changed (in college in the comic, a random encounter in a coffeeshop as adults) and the rest of their shared timeline is reduced from years to days.

    I may still have a copy of The Elektra Saga, and if I find it, I will put it to one side for you. I have been slowly eBaying my comic collection for some time now, but I don’t think I have sold that.

    [Edit: No, checking my email archive, I actually flogged it in 2006. Sorry!]

  3. July 28, 2010

    I knew the song was from the printed form (long before the film). So even the restored film doesn’t totally match, if it now makes internal sense I’ll still be interested (it wasn’t just that it didn’t totally match the song/story, that’s common with films, but it didn’t hold together enough for me to get the story it was telling). Also to see the comparison with what the director wanted, often there isn’t all that much difference but this sounds drastic.

    • chris
      July 28, 2010

      Yes the film is internally consistent, as much of the stuff that was taken out for the theatrical release was that annoying non-action stuff that explains what is going on.

      I won’t say too much, as I’ll let you discover the film anew yourselves. Suffice to say that the beginning now leads to the end, and Daredevil no longer appears to take on the Kingpin just because he killed his girlfriend.

      Some other trivia I never knew. I always thought it strange that the Kingpin never appeared in any of the Spiderman movies, as he was pretty much his nemesis too. I didn’t realise it was because Marvel had sold the Daredevil rights to a different company than they sold the Spiderman rights to. As a result, there was a parcelling up of villains, and the Daredevil franchise got the big fellow.

      Apparently, there is a chance of either a Daredevil sequel or a reboot, one way or other. If Fox do nothing with the character, then the film rights will shortly revert to Marvel, who certainly will. As a result, 20th Century Fox are looking to do something with it pretty darned quick.

  4. July 28, 2010

    I might have a copy still. I’ll check and if I do I’ll bring it to the swiggle or manorcon.

  5. July 28, 2010

    Thanks, I was also disappointed by the film. I’ll keep an eye open for this version.

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