The year was 2003. The day was February 14th. Better known as the day we set aside to celebrate love, Valentine’s Day.
My good friend Ben Morse and I were without dates for the Day of Hearts. My girlfriend (now wife) was in Minnesota where she attended college, suffering in the near permanent darkness and frigid winds of the Land of 10,000 (supposedly) Lakes. Ben’s girlfriend (now wife) was abroad, across the proverbial pond.
What were two great dateless friends to do while everyone around them celebrated with flowers, chocolates, and heaping handfuls of snogging?
In the past, this would’ve been quite a conundrum. But in 2003, the game had changed. See, Ben and I were huge comic fans—see the past approximately ten years where he edited me at Marvel.com—and in multiplexes across the country, a comic book movie was set to open.
To understand why this super hero movie in particular was so significant to Ben and I—but especially to me—a brief history is needed. While Marvel had arguably broken their decades long streak of bad movies in 1998 with BLADE, the change of tide was more formally recognized in 2000 with X-MEN hitting screens.
However, for me, a lifelong, shall we say, contrarian on the subject of the greatness of the X-Men, the true watershed moment was the first Sam Raimi SPIDER-MAN film, released in 2002. I loved Spider-Man and I loved the realization of the character on the big screen. For me, that was the moment Marvel had truly gotten its act together.
That said, there was one character I really wanted to see given the big screen treatment. My favorite character. The Man Without Fear. The blind lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen. The son of Battlin’ Jack Murdock. And on Valentine’s Day 2003, my dream was a reality. DAREDEVIL, starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clark Duncan, Colin Farrell, Jon Favreau, and Joey Pants was hitting the silver screen.
So what were two comic book fans doing that long-distance love thing to do on Valentine’s Day? Why go see DAREDEVIL of course.
And so we did.
AND WE LOVED IT!
In the post-viewing haze, we were so hopped up on adrenaline and my realization of a longtime hope that we ran back to our small liberal arts campus on the hill and roused all of our coupled friends and suggested, nay, DEMANDED, they come see it with us. Not soon. Immediately.
So Ben and I saw it twice in less than 24 hours. Much less.
In the light of 15 years later, perhaps this was a bit of an… inflated reaction to DAREDEVIL. Certainly history does not agree with us. Heck, at the time, many critics didn’t.
(For the record though, DAREDEVIL made bank. It was definitely not a financial flop.)
I can remember years later, a friend confiding in me that her boyfriend at the time was quite unhappy with Ben and I disrupting their Valentine’s Day plans. When I followed up to ask what those derailed plans were, she said that apparently he thought they were going to have a ton of sex. Now, I confess Colin Farrell’s performance as Bullseye might be AS GOOD as sex, but it’s gotta be close, right?
So yes, DAREDEVIL has not stood the test of time. But if you descend to the basement of the Watchtower and find my movie collection, you will see I have not just the theatrical cut but also the director’s cut of the film. If you visit my CD cabinet, you will note DAREDEVIL is represented in the soundtrack section. If you ask me of my history with the film, I will tell you that the last movie I watched as an unmarried man was DAREDEVIL, lying on my friend’s couch on the night before my wedding.
Most importantly of all, however, is this. The first person who wished me a Happy Valentine’s Day after my wife and kids was Ben. And he was the first person I sent a Valentine’s Day message to after the people I live with. So, regardless of how you feel about DAREDEVIL, you can’t deny it solidified one of the most important friendships of my life.
Also, like it or not, that soundtrack BOPS!