Saturday, February 6, 2010

When Good Comics Make Bad TV: Daredevil

One of my all-time favorite comic books was Daredevil.  You might be familiar with the character, too, though maybe only from the 2003 movie adaptation starring Ben Affleck.  But that wasn't the first attempt to bring Daredevil to the screen. Writing this morning about the 1979 Captain America TV movies reminded me of a 1989 TV movie titled The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, in which the Hulk and Daredevil teamed up to defeat the Kingpin in low budget, live action glory.

While it was in part a sequel to the popular Incredible Hulk TV series that had aired from 1978-1982, and while this TV movie still featured Bill Bixby and Lou Ferigno, it was really designed to be a pilot for a proposed live action Daredevil TV series. But the version of Daredevil brought to the screen in this movie was jarringly bland, so much so that a 45 second NBC promo for the show never even mentioned (let alone showed) Daredevil, even though he was the film's main character.  The problems started with Daredevil's costume. As you can see from the photo above, his costume in this movie was a plain dark blue, not red as in the comic book, and it also lacked his trademark horns and "DD" logo on his chest.  And why did this Daredevil apparently feel the need to don a black eye mask to supplement his costume, like he had trouble sleeping or was a Las Vegas magician?

I could go on at length about all the other problems that made this so disappointing at the time, but won't bother.  The scene where Bill Bixby transforms into the Hulk in a courtroom, after having been badgered in the witness box by an aggressive lawyer, was particularly corny.  If you remember that those transformations were the "money shots" in the old Incredible Hulk TV show, that'll give you a good idea how badly this TV movie stumbled.

But what NBC wouldn't show you in that 1989 promo, I will now.  Embedded below is a 10 minute clip from this movie's climax. Daredevil appears in action at length from about the 4:40 mark on.

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