Last year, SPIDER-MAN showed people how to make a good movie version of a comic book superhero. Although DAREDEVIL is not as successful, or as family-friendly, as SPIDER-MAN, both movies have a well-defined moral premise, or overriding moral theme. With SPIDER-MAN, the theme or premise was stated in the line in the movie that “With great power comes great responsibility.” Thus, SPIDER-MAN’s script proved the premise that “moral responsibility overcomes personal selfishness or personal ambition.” In contrast, DAREDEVIL proves the premise that “justice overcomes revenge.”
Better yet, both movies have a strong Christian worldview. DAREDEVIL’s Christian perspective, however, is marred by Romantic, pagan and satanic elements and symbols. These are designed to give the movie a darker edge, but they also make the movie problematic for older children, which was not true for SPIDER-MAN.
DAREDEVIL opens with Matthew Murdoch, a.k.a. DAREDEVIL, wounded and sitting on the Christian crucifix atop his Roman Catholic church. As his priest gives Matthew comfort on the floor of the church, Matthew recalls what happened to bring him to this precarious position.
Matthew grew up in Hell’s Kitchen with his father, a down-and-out boxer who succumbs to being an enforcer for the local loan shark gangster. His father tells Matt to be a lawyer or a doctor, not a boxer like him. One day, however, Matt sees his father threatening one of the loan shark’s victims. Hurt and ashamed, Matt runs away, but while he runs, a forklift pierces a barrel of hazardous waste. The waste blinds Matthew’s eyes for life, but gives all his other senses superhuman strength. Seeing his son’s condition, Matt’s father asks forgiveness from his son, repents of his criminal activity and decides to go back to just boxing. The loan shark gangster, however, has Matt’s father murdered when he refuses to take a dive in a match.
Matt vows revenge against all criminals. He becomes a lawyer for the little guy and dons the Daredevil costume at night to exact revenge against the criminals who roam the streets and who escape the inadequate restraints of the legal system. After letting a subway train run over and kill an acquitted rapist, Matt confesses his sins to his Catholic priest, who knows about Matt’s Daredevil activities. “I’m also not crazy about the costume,” the priest tells Matt, referring to the red devil costume Matt designed.
While Matt/Daredevil is out fighting crime, a star reporter writes stories about the unknown “Kingpin” of crime who he alleges runs the city’s crime organization. Matt happens to meet Elektra, the beautiful daughter of a Greek tycoon, who’s also one of the Kingpin’s associates. Kingpin sends his henchman, Bullseye, a vile criminal who kills people by throwing small sharp objects into their hearts and throats, to kill the tycoon and frame him as the city’s crime lord. Kingpin’s plot does not go exactly as planned, however. He decides to order Bullseye to take care of both Elektra and Daredevil. A great series of battles ensues, but there is one thing that Daredevil, a.ka. Matt Murdoch, has yet to find out: KINGPIN is the man who killed his father. Will Matt’s lust for personal revenge destroy him, or will true justice prevail?
The action sequences in the second half of DAREDEVIL are well done. This movie is full of personal jeopardy and conflict. Ben Affleck does a very good job as Matt/Daredevil in one of his more convincing performances. Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Colin Farrell, and David Keith also provide fine support as Elektra, Kingpin, Bullseye, and Matt’s father, respectively. DAREDEVIL wears its comic book roots on its sleeve, however. For instance, some of writer/director Mark Steven Johnson’s dialogue, especially in the first half of the movie, was very corny, though MOVIEGUIDE® enjoyed the old-fashioned, moral qualities in the relationship between Matt and his father and Matt and the priest, his spiritual mentor.
The best part of the movie, however, is the way in which it resolves the moral conflicts within Matt/Daredevil’s own soul. Matt eventually decides to take his priest’s admonitions about justice versus revenge to heart, despite the personal tragedies he undergoes during the story. Matt even tells Elektra, when her father is killed, that she will learn that revenge will not satisfy her soul. He also tells the priest at another point to “have faith.” Thus, the Christian, biblical definition of justice does indeed prevail in this popcorn movie. As Matt himself declares at the end, “Justice is served!”
Despite DAREDEVIL’s positive qualities, parents must be warned. There is some foul language in DAREDEVIL, very strong action violence and an implied intercourse scene between Matt and Elektra. Furthermore, Matt indicates in the dialogue that his relationship with Elektra has also softened his dark heart and helped to save his soul, which is a Romantic notion, in the philosophical/theological sense, at best. Finally, at the very end of the movie, Matt half-heartedly jokes that Daredevil is a “guardian devil.” Because of this negative content, MOVIEGUIDE® gives DAREDEVIL a caution for older children.
Please address your comments to:
Peter Chernin, Chairman & CEO
The Fox Group
Tom Rothman & Jim Gianopulos, Chairmen
Fox Filmed Entertainment
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
A division of Fox, Inc. & News Corp.
10201 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-1000
SUMMARY: DAREDEVIL stars Ben Affleck in one of his more convincing performances as a blind comic book superhero with other superhuman senses, who fights criminals in revenge for the murder of his father. DAREDEVIL is an exciting popcorn movie full of personal jeopardy and meaningful conflict, with a strong Christian worldview and strong moral elements, marred by some lesser Romantic, pagan and satanic elements and symbols.
(CC, BB, Ro, Pa, Ab, LL, VVV, S, N, A, D, M) Strong Christian worldview with strong moral elements about the triumph of justice and revenge being unsatisfying, including angry superhero goes to confession and gets good advice from a Roman Catholic priest and then tells the priest to have faith, although marred by some Romantic, pagan and satanic elements and symbols such as the saving power of human relationships, immoral sexual content and superhero wears devil costume; about 10 obscenities (including a few "s" and "a__" words), two strong profanities and eight light profanities; very strong action violence with a little bit too much blood includes villain throws small sharp objects to kill people, man pierced in chest by walking stick with sharp blades, heroine's hand pierced by small sword, man pierced in shoulder by small sword, wounded man's blood trickles down stained glass with Christian icons, train cuts man in half, martial arts fighting, boxing images, hero dodges gunfire, and death-defying leaps off tall buildings; implied fornication and couple caress in bed under covers; upper male nudity, female cleavage, implied female nudity, and nude statues with images of hands in inappropriate places; alcohol use; smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality, such as revenge rebuked, loan shark activity rebuked and gangsterism rebuked.
GENRE: Action Adventure