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Affleck Attempts to Save the World as Blind Superhero <i>Daredevil</i> - 2003-02-19

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner co-star in an action-fantasy film based on one of the darkest characters in the pages of Marvel comic books. Alan Silverman has a look at Daredevil.

By day, Matt Murdock is a crusading attorney. By night he puts on red leather armor and swings into action as "Daredevil," a superhero with a difference: blinded by a childhood accident, he uses his sharpened other senses to stop the bad guys. Ben Affleck says he's been a fan since he first read the character's Marvel comic book adventures.

"This guy represented something to me that, I guess, was more realistic," says Affleck. "It sounds funny to say that about a guy who puts on a red suit and fights crime at night, but he was a flawed hero. He had his own struggles. He was openly religious. He had these tragic love affairs. He struggled with himself [and] he didn't always win. He didn't always do the right thing."

"I guess that kind of resonated with me a little bit more," he adds. "He was also more like a 'ground level' guy. He wasn't fighting various other intergalactic empires or traveling through alternate universes. He didn't have a ring that shot green rays. He was just a guy."

"Elektra," a beautiful woman with issues of her own breaks, through "Daredevil's" tough armor and Affleck says that relationship links the fantasy character to reality.

"It's a little far afield from my everyday life: putting on a costume, doing flips, fighting crime, people getting stabbed in this operatic, kind of melodramatic scale of good versus evil," Affleck admits. "But one of the things that I could identify with in this movie was what's at the center of it in some ways, which is this love story and the transforming power of love and the redemptive qualities that falling in love has."

As "Elektra," Jennifer Garner is the hero's match when it comes to martial arts; but their relationship gets complicated when she's duped into believing her father has been killed by "Daredevil" (who she doesn't yet know is really Matt Murdock, the man she's falling in love with). The action is ratcheted up several notches from her hit television show Alias; but Garner, who had not read the comic book before making the movie, believes this heroine is also inspiring.

"I think 'Elektra' is incredibly empowering and I've met women who say 'it's because of Elektra that I thought I could live on my own...' or '...became physically fit' or whatever," says Garner. "I think that's a pretty amazing thing for a comic book character to give a young woman. Now, of course, I've read her entire saga and her story is pretty epic. It's pretty fascinating. She's a very dark woman."

Like star Ben Affleck, writer and director Mark Steven Johnson is also a longtime Daredevil fan; and Johnson relates this wounded superhero who dishes out his own 'street justice' to what audiences may still feeling after the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

"For me, it wasn't just a harsh vigilante story. It's not simple out there. It's not black and white," he stresses. " It's not like Spider-Man swooping down and grabbing a purse snatcher and saying 'here's you're purse, ma'am.' That's not the world we live in and I think he is a real post-9/11 hero. I really believe that. The theme of the movie is 'can one man make a difference and I think it has a good message in that he's not trying to save the world or stop mutants from taking over New York City or Metropolis. It's just a guy trying to make a difference and keep his little piece of the world clean. He's trying to keep his neighborhood safe. That's all it is."

Daredevil also features Colin Farrell as the nemesis "Bulls Eye," a psychopathic assassin with deadly aim. Michael Clarke Duncan plays the conniving "Kingpin" and Jon Favreau is the hero's unsuspecting business partner.