Daredevil Movie

OK, yet another comic book movie post. The Daredevil movie. It was bad. Don’t watch it. What I want to mention here is a particular way in which it was bad.

Daredevil was a not one of Stan Lee’s greater creations, and for many years was not a very interesting character. The reason Daredevil is well known today is that Frank Miller took over the book in 1981. He made it the best comic book on the market, and ever since then Daredevil has been a home for good writing and good art.

Unsurprisingly, the movie is loosely based on Frank Miller’s first overall story arc, a story which included the Kingpin, made Bullseye into a dangerous villain, and introduced Elektra. Parts of the movie are actually a shot-by-shot recreation of Miller’s panels (an idea which is done in much more detail in the Sin City movie, also based on a Miller comic book).

The problem is, the movie inverts the story, so that it makes no sense. In the comic book, Daredevil is a pretty straight superhero, a good guy. By day he is a lawyer who defends clients who need help, by night he protects people as a superhero. In Miller’s story, he meets Elektra, a college girlfriend who has become a ninja assassin (these things happen). There is a conflict between his feelings for her and his feelings about what she does, and as it is moving toward resolution Bullseye kills Elektra. Daredevil can’t really make sense of this, and slowly loses his judgment and his self-control. Daredevil eventually causes Bullseye to take a long fall, which puts him paralyzed in a hospital. The long story arc ends with Daredevil sitting next to the hospital bed, playing russian roulette with Bullseye with what turns out to be an unloaded gun. Going through this lets Daredevil prove to himself that he won’t kill Bullseye for what he (Bullseye) did, and he (Daredevil) regains his emotional stability.

That was a very short summary of a lot of comic books. In the movie, on the other hand, Daredevil is out of control from the start, acting impulsively and dangerously. He meets Elektra, falls in love, Bullseye kills Elektra, and this shock makes Daredevil act more sensibly and responsibly. Huh?

So the movie story is the reverse of the comic book story, and the movie story doesn’t make sense. Lord knows there have been lots of terrible book adaptations, but most of them at least try to keep the main point of the story in the book.

2 Comments »

  1. ncm said,

    July 25, 2008 @ 10:52 pm

    Reminds me of how they messed up the significance of the alien’s ancestor recitation in the movie version of “Enemy Mine”, also eliminating any sense from the story.

  2. Ian Lance Taylor said,

    July 28, 2008 @ 10:02 pm

    I do remember being very disappointed in the movie of Enemy Mine, but I’ve forgotten all the details. I saw it in the theater when it came out.

    That was doubly sad in that Barry B. Longyear was a talented SF writer–I particularly like his City of Baraboo series–who after the movie came out spent many years working in Hollywood, no doubt earning money, but producing nothing.

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