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Don’t watch the awful Marvel film Madame Web. Watch this underrated movie instead

Dakota Johnson looks through a spiderweb in an image from Madame Web
Sony Pictures / Sony Pictures

If you’ve already seen Madame Web this week, don’t say that we didn’t try to warn you. Even when the MCU has faltered, Marvel Studios’ movies have been better than Sony’s half-hearted Spider-Man-adjacent knockoffs. Now Madame Web gets to live on next to Morbius among the biggest comic book movie busts of all-time. Perhaps they should save a spot for Kraven the Hunter to join them this summer.

Look, if you really want to see a bad superhero movie like Madame Web in theaters, don’t let us stop you. But if you want a better viewing option without leaving the comfort of your own home, we’re suggesting that you watch an underrated superhero movie from 2003: Daredevil. While it’s true that Daredevil was maligned at the time of its release, it sure looks a lot better in retrospect 21 years later, especially if you’ve seen Mark Steven Johnson’s director’s cut. Daredevil was also upstaged by Marvel’s Daredevil TV series that premiered in 2015, which ranks among the all-time great comic book adaptations. But once you read our reasons why we’re recommending the Daredevil movie, you may see the film in a different light.

Daredevil has a terrific cast

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck in Daredevil.
20th Century Studios

Make no mistake, there were definitely missteps in the Daredevil movie. But the casting is not one of them. Ben Affleck may have disowned this film, but he was a good choice for Matt Murdock/Daredevil, and this was his proving ground before he eventually played Batman in the DCEU movies. Affleck also met his future (and now former) wife, Jennifer Garner, who was coming off a hot stint on Alias to play Elektra. Garner also got to headline an Elektra spinoff movie, but let’s just say that we won’t be touting the virtues of that one.

Before he went on to helm the first two Iron Man movies and appear as Happy Hogan in the MCU, Jon Favreau co-starred in this film as Matt’s best friend, Foggy Nelson. The late Michael Clarke Duncan was an inspired choice to play Wilson Fisk/Kingpin, and The Matrix‘s Joe Pantoliano had a supporting role as reporter Ben Urich. It’s also easy to forget that Ellen Pompeo appeared as Karen Page before Grey’s Anatomy made her a TV superstar. Colin Farrell also gave an over-the-top performance as Bullseye nearly two decades before he appeared as Penguin in The Batman. If it was possible to get this cast back together in 2024, it would still be a great lineup.

The film has exciting action

Jennifer Garner's Elektra takes on Ben Affleck's Daredevil in a scene from Daredevil.
20th Century Studios

Johnson gives in to some silliness early in the movie when Elektra and Matt have a mock duel in full view of the public while he attempts to court her. It wasn’t the best choice. But later in the movie, Elektra becomes convinced that Daredevil is responsible for the death of her father, and she is so murderously angry that she tries to kill him herself.

By this point in their respective careers, Garner had more action training than Affleck did, which may be why she seems more suited for these scenes. Yet when Daredevil fights Elektra with his life on the line, it’s among the best scenes in the movie. Daredevil’s subsequent fights with Bullseye and Kingpin also have their moments, but it’s the battle with Elektra that makes the movie.

Daredevil’s R-rated cut makes it an even better film

Ben Affleck as Daredevil.
20th Century Studios

Long before Zack Snyder’s Justice League came along, the R-rated director’s cut of Daredevil was released on DVD and Blu-ray, and it really did make it a much better film. For starters, the action is ramped up , and the additional 30 minutes gives the characters greater depth than they had in the theatrical version. Affleck’s Matt Murdock is particularly well-served when he gets to question whether what he’s doing as Daredevil is actually righteous or just another form of villainy. It also informs Matt’s decision at the end of the film to pull back from murdering his foes.

There’s also an entire subplot that’s put back into the film surrounding Dante Jackson (Coolio), a client facing a murder charge who is represented by Matt and Foggy. This connects back to Kingpin’s plot, and it also gives Foggy some heroic direction within the law while his partner steps outside of it. The difference between the two versions of the film really is night and day. If you’re going to watch Daredevil, the director’s cut is the one you should choose.

Rent or buy Daredevil on Prime Video and other digital outlets.

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Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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