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(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was for a poem detailing an alter ego, so a superhero seemed like a prime subject.)

My alter ego you may know;
His fame surpasses mine,
And yet for all our differences,
Our points of view align.
Where I avoid hostility,
My shadow boasts a spine.

Where I will yield at pressure’s grip,
He clings to his ideals.
The fear that dogs me in the day,
The night for him conceals.
And those who propagate that fear,
He follows on their heels.

The scars that scare the rest away,
My counterpart will earn.
And what he does for you and me
It’s best that we don’t learn.
Since bad for bad is good for good,
A blind eye I will turn.

MPA rating:  PG-13 (though R for the director’s cut I saw)

I went into Daredevil fully expecting it to be bad since it has gained a reputation as one of the several lame Marvel adaptations that floundered before the MCU found its stride. I wasn’t aware that the director’s cut had a better reputation than the original, so it was just luck that I opted to see the more complete version of the story, before thirty minutes were unwisely cut for theaters. And I was pleasantly surprised by a comic book tale that may be imperfect but not nearly as dismal as I’d heard.

None of the actors are at the top of their game, but it’s still an impressive cast, including a pre-Batman Ben Affleck as “the man without fear” Matt Murdock, a pre-Happy Jon Favreau as his lawyer friend, and a pre-Penguin Colin Farrell as the ruthless assassin Bullseye. Jennifer Garner is decent as love interest and fellow fighter Elektra, while Michael Clarke Duncan steals every scene as the hulking Kingpin, putting his massive height and strength to good use as the imposing criminal mastermind. There are clear echoes of Daredevil’s comic book origins, such as the opening scene of the blind vigilante clinging to a church’s rooftop cross, and even though it plays itself straight with a dark and brooding tone to rival Batman (and minus the aversion to killing), there’s also definite cheesiness on display, with Farrell the worst offender, taking every opportunity to show how irredeemably evil he is.

With its obvious CGI moments and choppy fight editing, Daredevil doesn’t have the special effects polish we’ve come to expect of modern superhero films, so it’s a product of its time, when the first Spider-Man was the best template for a comic book film but was hard to replicate right. I was also surprised to hear the Grammy-winning “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence, which was part of the soundtrack before the song had even been released. There are genuinely good elements in the mix, from Murdock’s movingly tragic childhood to the Catholic subtext to the brutal face-off between Daredevil and Kingpin. So Daredevil may have been a misfire at the time, but it simply paved the way for other Marvel films to be better. (I really ought to see the Netflix series now that the character seems to be entering the MCU in earnest.)

Best line: (Father Everett, to Matt as Daredevil) “Look, a man without fear is a man without hope. May God have mercy on you for your sins and grant you Everlasting Life, Amen. …I’m not too crazy about the outfit, either.”

Rank:  Honorable Mention

© 2022 S.G. Liput
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