Daredevil is a 2003 American superhero film written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson. Based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, the film stars Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer who fights for justice in the courtroom and out of the courtroom as the masked vigilante Daredevil. Jennifer Garner plays his love interest Elektra Natchios; Colin Farrell plays the merciless assassin Bullseye; David Keith plays Jack "The Devil" Murdock, a washed up fighter who is Matt's father; and Michael Clarke Duncan plays Wilson Fisk, also known as the crime lord Kingpin.The film began development in 1997 at 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures, before New Regency acquired the rights in 2000. Johnson chose to shoot the film primarily in Downtown Los Angeles despite the Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan setting of the film and the comics. Rhythm and Hues Studios were hired to handle the film's CGI needs. Graeme Revell composed the Daredevil score which was released on CD in March 2003, whereas the various artists soundtrack album, Daredevil: The Album, was released in February.
Reviews of the film were generally mixed, praising Ben Affleck's performance but criticizing the action sequences. The film still enjoyed a profitable theatrical run and became February's second biggest release: it was successful enough to allow a spin-off film, Elektra, which was released in 2005. In 2004, an R-rated director's cut of Daredevil was released, incorporating approximately thirty minutes back into the film, including an entire sub-plot involving a character played by Coolio. The director's cut was intended as an improvement over the theatrical version.
Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) is a blind lawyer who lives in New York City's Hell's Kitchen and runs a firm with his best friend Franklin "Foggy" Nelson (Jon Favreau), who only defends innocent people and does not require monetary payment.
As a child, Matt (Scott Terra) was blinded after toxic waste was spilled over his eyes while he was taking a shortcut home from school after discovering that his father, former boxer Jack "The Devil" Murdock (David Keith), had become an enforcer for a local mobster. The accident, however, also enhanced his other senses and gave him a sonar that allowed him to "see" through sonic vibrations. Matt uses his sharpened senses to train himself in martial arts. His father, blaming himself for his disability, stopped being an enforcer and went back to boxing. However, his new career was short-lived and he was murdered after refusing to turn in a fixed fight by the same mobster that had employed him earlier. To avenge his father's death, Matt used his abilities to become a crime-fighter known as "Daredevil", who operates in Hell's Kitchen, going after the criminals that escape the conventional means of justice.
One day, Matt meets Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner). Elektra is the daughter of Nikolas Natchios (Erick Avari), a businessman that has dealings with Wilson Fisk (Michael Clarke Duncan), a rich executive who is also the criminal leader of New York City's Underworld, known and feared as the Kingpin. When Nikolas tries to bail on his dealings with the Kingpin, the mobster hires the Irish hitman Bullseye (Colin Farrell), who never misses a shot, to kill him. Daredevil tries to stop Bullseye, even causing him to miss a shot, but Bullseye ultimately succeeds in killing Nikolas and framing Daredevil in the process. As a result, Elektra swears to take revenge on him as reporter Ben Urich (Joe Pantoliano), who had been investigating Daredevil's activities, discovers his secret identity. Believing Daredevil to have done good things for Hell's Kitchen, he tells Matt that Bullseye will be going after Elektra next.
Daredevil goes after Bullseye, but is attacked by Elektra, who plans to use her extensive training in martial arts to avenge her father's death by killing Daredevil. After wounding him, she removes his mask, and discovers his secret identity and innocence. Forced to fight Bullseye alone, Elektra is overpowered and murdered by the hitman, who is forced to flee before he can kill Daredevil as the police arrive, having been tipped off by Urich. Matt, wounded, makes his way to a local church, where he is looked after by his confidant Father Everett (Derrick O'Connor), who knows his secret identity. After recovering slightly, Daredevil fights Bullseye, who had followed him to the church. After a violent battle, Bullseye discovers that loud noise is Daredevil's weakness and prepares to kill him with a spiked piece of wood after incapacitating him. Daredevil blocks the attack and hears an FBI sniper stationed on the neighbouring building preparing to fire. As the bullet is fired, Daredevil moves out of the path of the bullet and pulls Bullseye's hands into the path of the bullet. Wounded, Bullseye pleads for mercy, but is overpowered by Daredevil and thrown from the church's top floor. He lands on the hood of Urich's car, wounded but alive.
Upon discovering that Fisk is the Kingpin and Bullseye's employer, Daredevil makes his way to his office to face him in combat. The confrontation gets off to a bad start for Daredevil, however, as the Kingpin proves to be a surprisingly powerful combatant, overwhelming Daredevil for the majority of the fight. Lying on the floor, Matt questions the Kingpin as to why he killed the people he loved, having learned that Fisk had killed his father many years before, to which Fisk says it was just business. Angered, Matt finds the strength and breaks the Kingpin's legs, but refrains from killing him, instead allowing him to be arrested by the police, who have discovered his criminal connections. Before being taken away, the Kingpin — who had also discovered Daredevil's secret identity after overpowering him — swears revenge on Matt Murdock, but Matt taunts him, pointing out that he can't reveal his secret identity, for the humiliation of being beaten by a blind man, and that Daredevil will be waiting for him when he gets out of prison.
Having taken down the Kingpin and gained some closure over his father's murder, Matt goes back to his day-to-day routine, though brokenhearted over the loss of Elektra. His strength is renewed at the possibility that Elektra might still be alive after he goes to the rooftop where they had their first kiss and finds a necklace like the one her mother gave her, except with a Braille inscription. Matt meets Urich one last time, in which Urich assures him that he will not publish his article about Matt's true identity, and Daredevil dives into the night, forever the "Man Without Fear".
During the credits, Bullseye, having been moved to a prison hospital and severely bandaged up after his confrontation with Daredevil, is shown to still have his perfect aim despite his injuries after he impales a fly on the wall with a nearby syringe needle.