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File:Daredevil 8480.jpg

The Man Without Fear

Based on the comic series of the same name, Daredevil is the story of Matt Murdock, lawyer and Catholic by day, vigilante hero by night. Young Matt Murdock is blinded by chemicals in a freak accident after seeing his father participating in a beatdown working for the mob. But soon, he and his father work together to better their lives, as Jack Murdock leaves his mob past and resurrects his boxing career as Matt learns how to live life blind, while finding his other senses incredibly heightened. However, his father is murdered as a result of a hit at the hands of mob hitman Wilson Fisk, who will rise to a powerful crime lord known only as the Kingpin by the time Murdock is fully grown...

In the corrupt, crime-ridden New York neighborhood known as Hell's Kitchen, an adult Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) works as a pro bono attorney to help those in need...and finds other forms of justice when he cannot find it in court, as the costumed avenger known as Daredevil. He becomes mixed up with Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner), whose father also runs afoul of the Kingpin. Throw into the mix Kingpin's hired assassin, Bullseye (Colin Farrell, accent in full gear), who handles the Kingpin's wettest of work, and a lot of Evanescence and Seether on the soundtrack, and you have 2003's Daredevil.

In part due to the character being more physically normal than other heroes, the movie aims to mix the hyperactive fight scenes reminscient of the Spider Man films with a look at how physically taxing a vigilante's life would be (Matt is covered in scars and regularly takes pain killers) in addition to the fact that his superpowers never turn off. The Directors Cut of the film is one of those instances where the movie as a whole was better received than the theatrical version. Featuring alternate versions of familiar scenes, it also reinstated an entire subplot that dealt with Matt tracking down a chain of evidence that lead to the Kingpin. This resulted in a more proactive hero than originally shown.

This film contains examples of:

  • Ability Over Appearance: The Kingpin was played by Michael Clarke Duncan. He was the best actor with the size that they could find, and even then, he had to gain some weight for the role. Ironically, the Kingpin was originally supposed to be black in the comics, but an editor thought it would be racist to have a black villain.
    • This carried over into the short-lived Mainframe animated Spider-Man series on MTV, to the point of actually having Michael Clarke Duncan voice the character.
  • Alliterative Name: Well, it is a Stan Lee adaption.
  • Amoral Attorney: Matt's partner Foggy is a humourous version as he doesn't mind taking on guilty clients for money.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Ben Affleck was reportedly a fan of the Daredevil comics as a kid and wrote the foreword for the collection of Daredevil issues his buddy Kevin Smith wrote.
  • Badass Boast: "Time to give the Devil his due"
  • Badass Bookworm: Matt works as a lawyer by day. Also, when he drops his report card after seeing his dad beat some poor guy down in the name of the mob, it shows straight A's.
  • Badass Longcoat: Bullseye sports a damn cool leather one.
  • Badass Normal: Although Murdock's heightened senses certainly come in handy, his physical capabilities and weapon handling (not to mention the physical injuries he sustains on a nightly basis) are still just those of a well-trained man.
  • Bald of Awesome: Ben Urich
  • Bald of Evil: Kingpin and Bullseye. Quesada, the rapist, is also bald.
  • Big Bad: The Kingpin.
  • Big Bra to Fill
  • Big No: Daredevil, when Bullseye impales Elektra with her own sai.
  • Blessed with Suck: Matt Murdock's hearing is so potent, he can hear everything in at least a block radius, which forces him to sleep in a sensory deprivation tank simply to blot out the noise. Oh, and the whole being blind thing, too.
  • Bloodstained-Glass Windows: Daredevil and Bullseye face off in a church. And this would be a literal trope if Daredevil did not evade Bullseye's hurled shards of said glass windows.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Both Matt from Hell's Kitchen and Kingpin from The Bronx qualify
  • Calling Card: The Kingpin's roses.
    • This may be a Shout-Out to the Rose, one of his enforcers who was originally his son Richard.
  • Catch and Return: Bullseye catches Elektra's sai with ease. Elektra catching her sai back, not so much.
  • The Cameo: Kevin Smith making a quick appearance; he's written multiple Daredevil comics.
    • A young Matt Murdock prevents Stan Lee from getting run over by a car.
      • Frank Miller who redefined the Daredevil character and whose run the movie took its inspiration from appears as guy killed by Bullseye with a pencil in his head.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Not so much a Chekhov's Skill as a Chekhov's Loophole in Matt's Achilles Heel. Early on, Matt reveals that he can see perfectly when he's in the middle of a rainstorm because of the multiple echoes from falling raindrops. In the final battle, he uses this to get the upper hand on Fisk.
  • Chest Insignia: Matt Murdock wears a DD logo on his suit.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ben Urich and Matt's law partner Foggy
  • Death as Comedy: Bullseye kills a old lady on a flight simply for talking his ear off, which would be such a dick move if the manner he did it (ricocheting an airplane peanut off the back of the seat in front of him into the woman's throat, posing her as asleep, then politely asking a stewardess for more peanuts) wasn't so darn funny.
  • Death by Cameo: Hey, there's Frank he falls to the ground dead with a pencil in his head!
  • Death Dealer: An ace of spades is one of the multitude of things Bullseye hurls in the film as a weapon.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best
  • Demoted to Extra: Removing the murder case subplot in the theatrical cut means Coolio's role as Matt's client was completely gone, and Ellen Pompeo's role as Karen Page is reduced to a one scene walk-on.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Unlike their actors in real life, Matt and Elektra do not stay together due to Elektra getting gutted by Bullseye and then brought back to life in a sequel that never re-unites them.
  • Disability Superpower: Although blind, Murdock can utilize his other (super-heightened) senses to help him fight crime.
    • Notable for examining this to its utter limit; Murdock can smell on gun oil from across a room, hearing that can not only detect lies by heartbeats but act as sonar, kinesthetic reflexes on par with V's, touch that can not only allow him detect depressions in paper well enough for him to read but act as an alternate sense of balance... but he still has to fold the money in his wallet in idiosyncratic ways to keep up appearances as an average blind person.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: A rare dramatic example. After Matt and Elektra have their first kiss, Matt hears a carjacking in the background and tries to leave so he can intervene... then Elektra looks deep into his eyes and says "Stay with me". Cue sex scene.
    • Like other examples, this only exists in one cut (theatrical in this case; Matt answers the call of duty in the director's cut)
  • The Dragon: Kingpin's hired gun, Bullseye. Kingpin was this to Fallon back in the day.
  • Dub Name Change: In Brazil, Bullseye was renamed "Mercenário" (Mercenary).
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Kingpin is played by Michael Clarke Duncan
  • Executive Meddling: Why the theatrical version was met with a mixed reaction, but the director's cut was more warmly received. Fox smelled potential spin-off with Elektra, so an entire subplot concerning Matt Murdock's "lawyer by day" persona (with his case eventually leading him to the Kingpin) was removed completely. His internal struggle with his vigilante justice clashing with his faith additionally take a backseat to increased screen time for Elektra and their love angle, and the film cut down on the intended Darker and Edgier tone. As a result upon its release, Daredevil nearly became the first film to not cross the $100 million domestic barrier after a $40 million opening, and Elektra completely tanked. Thankfully, the director's cut Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Fake Nationality: The Greek-American Elektra Natchios is played by very not-Greek Jennifer Garner.
  • Fallen-On-Hard-Times Job: In this version, Jack Murdock descends from boxing into being a small-time enforcer to pay the bills.
  • Fighting Irish: Matt is a native of the Irish-American neighbourhood Hell's Kitchen. His father Jack Murdock was a professional boxer (and secretly a mob enforcer). And of course there's Bullseye (played by Dubliner Colin Farrell), who is just completely Axe Crazy.
  • Foe Yay: Daredevil/Elektra and Bullseye/Elektra. Bullseye seeming to be the only enjoying his Foe Yay.
  • For the Evulz: Bullseye killed an old woman because she annoyed him; he later killed a guard at Fisk Corp and later admitted to Fisk it wasn't necessary, just fun; and while his first attempt on DD's life was because DD tried to prevent him from killing Natchios, he'd later try to kill DD just because he missed the first time.
  • Franchise Killer: The original film put it on life support, Elektra put a firm-sai-into-the-gut/dagger into the franchise, for lack of a better analogy.
  • Freak Lab Accident: More like a freak chemical/forklift accident, but still...
  • Genre Savvy: Kingpin is so good at being the boss, that he doesn't even need to hear the bad news, only to here that there is bad news.

 Wesley: There's been a problem.

Kingpin: Bullseye failed.

  • Gold Digger: Foggy advised Matt to marry Elektra as soon as Matt told him she's a billionaire's daughter.
  • Half the Man He Used To Be: "Jose Quesada...the rest of Jose Quesada."
  • Ham and Cheese: Michael Clarke Duncan and Colin Farell as Kingpin and Bullseye.

 'Bullseye:*after being shot in the hands* You took me hands! You took away me haaaaands!!!!

  • Heroic Fatigue: We see the hero going through his before-bed routine, getting everything put away in just the right place, climbing into the sound-proof casket (necessary due to his super hearing), only for him to hear a woman somewhere nearby crying for help. He only lets out an exhausted sigh before slowly closing the casket to close out the sound.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Ralph Cifaretto is on the right side of the law and The Greek is finally getting some Justice.
  • Hollywood Healing: Subverted. Matt is often shown in noticeable pain from injuries and is shown popping his knee back into place towards the start.
  • Hollywood Hype Machine: The film is considered part of the series of films Affleck did that lost some of his momentum in his acting career.
  • Honor Before Reason: One of Matt's defining traits. He's struggling financially because he refuses to represent wealthy clients who he knows to be guilty, but he often represents innocent people who are too poor to pay legal bills.
  • Hyper Awareness: Daredevil can hear a gun preparing to fire...even a sniper rifle from across the street!
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Even though he was there to gut her, Bullseye seemed to act this way during his fight with Elektra, especially before doing so as he holds her and tries to lovingly (and mockingly) kiss her. While holding her, attempting the kiss, he even speaks to her in a loving manner. During his fight with Daredevil after killing her, he even reminisces her for a brief moment.
  • Impaled Palm: TWICE!
  • In Medias Res: The film starts with Daredevil bleeding and injured atop a church, and the next hour and a half brings us back to that point.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Nikolas Natchios. Special mention must be made of the fact that this was done with Daredevil's folded billy club, which wasn't designed to penetrate anything.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Bullseye's schtick.
  • Improvised Weapon: Bullseye's other schtick. He can turn anything into a deadly weapon. And when I say "anything", I mean AN-NY-THIN-GUH.
  • In the End You Are on Your Own: Quoth the Kingpin, "I'm from the Bronx, Wesley. This is something you wouldn't understand."
  • Ironic Echo: "I'm not the bad guy."
  • It's Personal: Matt's vendetta against Kingpin
  • Large Ham: Colin Farell certainly enjoyed playing the hell out of Bullseye, that's for sure.
  • Large and In Charge: The Kingpin, of course!
  • Living Lie Detector: Matt Murdock listens to the heartbeat of people to deduce if a person is lying or not in his cases. In the director's cut, he takes on a client despite every sign pointing to him as the correct suspect, but his heartbeat confirms he's telling the truth about his innocence. Likewise, the person setting him up almost foils Murdock's method because he too has a steady heartbeat while telling his side in court...until Matt realizes he's on a pacemaker.
    • Which is a Continuity Nod to a Frank Miller story where Matt was duped into believing his client was innocent because he had a pacemaker.
  • Mythology Gag: The rapist Daredevil deals with at the start of the movie is named Jose Quesada.
    • Most any time a name is being dropped in this movie that isn't a comic character, it's the name of a creator who worked on Daredevil.
  • Night Vision Goggles: Matt Murdock's senses allow him to "see" his environment in a sonar-esque filter.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: Daredevil, Elektra, and Bullseye jump and fall great distances with no effects.
  • Old Shame: Ben Affleck does not look back on this experience fondly, stating that wearing a costume was "a source of humiliation".
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Jon Favreau as Foggy Nelson.
  • Precision F-Strike: The original line, bowdlerized in the threatical cut and intact in the director's cut, is "I want a fucking costume!"
  • Pro Bono Barter: Matt Murdock regularly accepts gifts, instead of money, for payment from impoverished clients, much to the dismay of Foggy Nelson.
  • Psycho for Hire: Bullseye.
  • Race Lift: Completely justified as Michael Clarke Duncan is about as commanding an acting presence as can be while fitting the required size and stature of Kingpin. Interestingly, the Kingpin was originally envisioned as black when conceived for the comics, but at the time Marvel worried that it would be considered racist to make him black.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Although Daredevil has no qualms dispatching of criminals rather than sending them to the big house, the only criminal he actually leaves dead is, you guessed it, a rapist.
    • Subverted. Quesada was just unfortunate enough to be the last bad guy Matt came across before deciding Thou Shall Not Kill; that he was a rapist was less important than he was an utter bastard. Matt actually tries to kill Bullseye later as well, but its later revealed that he survived.
      • Also, it seemed an act of desperation: he was able to trash an entire bar-full of goons, but had to hit Quesada so hard he can't walk away because his senses were overwhelmed by the incoming subway train.
  • Reality Ensues: Much of the beginning of the film delves into how a superhero would probably live in real life; Matt has scars all over his body, is on pain medication, his powers make sleeping difficult, and he has a shambled ruin of a personal life.
  • Romance on the Set: Affleck was still involved with Jennifer Lopez and Garner with Michael Vartan at the time, but after those relationships ended, Affleck and Garner became happily married with children.
  • Spare The Villain: Matt does not kill the Kingpin in the end.
  • Scary Black Man: Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin.
  • Secret Keeper: Ben Urich eventually becomes this in the end. A Secret Secret Keeper, to be exact.
    • The priest as well from almost the very beginning, and a reluctant one too.
  • Sensory Overload: Bullseye clangs together giant organ pipes to overwhelm Matt Murdock's senses and render him helpless for moments.
  • Shout-Out: Several shots and dialogue are taken directly from the comics.
    • Also, near the beginning of the film, Fallon mentions 3 fighters that Jack Murdock defeated named Miller, Mack, and Bendis, all three named after people who wrote on the Daredevil comic, and later, we see that the man Jack defeated that night was named John Romita, a name shared with an artist who briefly worked on Daredevil.
    • A criminal that DD hunts down in the beginning of the film is name Jose Quesada. JOE Quesada also did work on the series.
    • Kevin Smith's character is name Jack Kirby.
    • And then there's "Mr. Lee", the client who pays his legal bills with fish.
    • When asked about cuts, Matt says that he is in a Fight Club to which his partner says he has never seen the film.
    • Matt is essentially Atticus Finch if he moonlighted as a superhero. The first scene of the movie has him futilely standing up for justice in a rape trial, and he often accepts random gifts from impoverished clients in lieu of cash.
    • Early on Jack Murdock says he once beat a fight by the name of Colan. Gene Colan drew Daredevil from September 1966 to June 1973 (making his run the first of the many long runs the character is known for) and Daredevil is often considered his signature character.
  • Shower of Angst: Matt takes a brief Shower of Angst after a night of vigilantism. While showering, he pull a broken tooth out of his mouth.
  • Soft Glass: Averted. After being thrown through an already cracked window, Bullseye lands on a windshield which doesn't break. Later on,the massively built Kingpin throws Matt full force at a window which only cracks but doesn't break
  • Spandex, Latex, or Leather: Leather for everyone!
  • "Take That!" Kiss: Averted and played straight depending on what cut you're watching. Bullseye goes to kiss Elektra but simply kills her in the theatrical version, but does plant one on her while running her through with her sai in the director's cut.
  • The Stinger: We get one featuring Bullseye incapacitated in the hospital, but still able to kill a fly.
  • Super Senses
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Matt battles this as part of his double life.
  • Throwing the Fight: Why a hit is put on Matt Murdock's father, who refused to take a dive.
  • Vigilante Man
  • Wastebasket Ball: Foggy fails at tossing one in, although he tries to get one over on Matt by announcing "swoosh" after a miss. Of course, the blind Murdock makes it without even looking in the direction of the basket.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The one main thing that seems to render Daredevil incapacitated, however briefly, is loud noise, even from everyday occurances such as loud trains and organ pipes.
  • Wham! Episode: Similar to an event in the comics but unexpected in the movie, Elektra is killed a bit more than halfway through the movie when she tries to fight Bullseye.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Matt chooses not to kill Kingpin. When asked why, he replies "I'm not the bad guy." The line itself is a Call Back to a line he says after he'd beaten up a crook in Hell's Kitchen only to find out that crook was a father, and he had been beating him up with his child present, while calming he wasn't the bad guy.
  • Wolf Whistle: Bullseye does this to Elektra once they meet. Both to address an attraction towards her and to disturb her that her father's murderer, and about to be her murderer is hitting on her.
  • You Can Barely Stand: Daredevil goes to confront Kingpin after taking a beating in his fight with Bullseye. His priest actually tells him this before his fight with Bullseye after his injuries sustained fighting Elektra.
  • You Killed My Father: Daredevil and Elektra.
  • Zorro Mark: Matt leaves his insignia written on the ground in oil at the scene of one of his fights. It proves very convenient for a reporter being told that there's no proof his "so-called Daredevil" was involved - one thrown cigarette later...