The first thing you notice about Daredevil is his similarity to Spider-Man--a costumed crime-fighter with heightened senses who haunts the skies of New York City. A number of villains tangled with both of them and they teamed up to fight crime in 2002. Daredevil first appeared in his own comic, Daredevil #1, in April of 1964, two years after Spider-Man. In 1965 he switched from a yellow costume to the devilish red one that he was worn ever since. The Kingpin of Crime, a recurring antagonist for him, first appeared in Spider-Man #50. Elektra first appeared in Daredevil #168, and in a four-part series called The Elektra Saga her complex history with Daredevil was explored. Much of the back-story in the film came from the Frank Miller/John Romita Jr. re-imagination called "Daredevil, the Man Without Fear."
The movie begins with Matt Murdock The Daredevil (Ben Affleck) dropping into a church with terrible injuries, where his priest friend cares for him. The movie fades into memory of Matt's childhood in Hell's Kitchen as son of a down and out boxer, with no mother. Bullied by tough street-brats, he discovers his father shaking down innocent people for the mob, and runs away, bumbling into a toxic-waste accident, in which he is blinded but given the extra-ordinary senses that constitute his powers. He finds he can beat the crap out of the bullies. His father stands up to the mob, refusing to throw a fight, and pays the ultimate price. Matt finds him dead in an alley with a red rose on his chest, and Daredevil's life as a crime-fighter begins.
He sleeps in a sensory-deprivation tank to block out all the sounds of the city. Reading Braille, he becomes a lawyer. He can tell when people are lying, and criminals the law cannot touch get a visit from The Daredevil. He can mop up the floor with mobsters, but loud noises like a subway train or church-bells confuse him and make him vulnerable. The Police insist he doesn't exist, but one reporter, Ben Urich (Joe Pantoliano) is certain he does, and even gives him tips. Only his father confessor knows his secret identity.
He introduces himself to Elektra Nachios (Jennifer Garner), follows her he thinks surreptitiously, but she confronts him and when he touches her, reacts with violence. I have seen a lot of battle scenes, but this is one of the sexiest. A later love-scene is not the only one I have seen that begins with the couple examining each other's battle-scars.
Michael Clark Duncan, as The Kingpin of Crime, is sonorous and impressive, not to mention huge. He likes to drop red roses on his victims. Colin Firth plays his hired assassin Bullseye. He never misses, can take down a man with paper-clips or a playing-card. He has a bulls eye carved into his forehead and Firth played the role in his native Irish accent. These are four great characters. I will admit that Daredevil himself is the least exciting of these characters, but that's the way it is, often, with heroes and villains. In fact, I could say that a genre movie in which the good guy is as compelling as the bad guy is a great movie instead of just a good one.
When Bullseye kills Elektra's father with Daredevil's cane, she swears vengeance on the hero. Now he is hunted by the police and faces three antagonists, one after the other, or in combination, in what seems to be a common Marvel pattern that we have already seen in Spiderman III.
Throughout the movie, Daredevil appears with crosses and gargoyles and statues of angels on the rooftops, and casts demonic shadows on the streets below. He is not as tortured as Spider-Man or The Hulk, but he is haunted by the conflict of seeking justice through violence. He may be The Man Without Fear, but he is certainly not The Man Without Guilt. The movie has been panned, but often it appears to be only because Ben Affleck is in it.