Get ready for some daredevilry

ALTER EGO: Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner) and Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck)  

THE SUPER success of Spider-Man proved that we loved our super-heroes and our comics and the latest to join the comic book gang is the Ben Affleck starrer Daredevil.

Based on the legendary Marvel Comics character created by Stan lee and Bill Everett in 1964, Affleck plays blind attorney Matt Murdock by day and the masked vigilante Daredevil, the Man without Fear by night.

Jennifer Garner plays Elektra Natchios Murdock's love interest while Michael Clarke Duncan is Wilson Fisk, New York's Kingpin of Crime and Colin Farrell plays Bull's Eye, the assassin with the perfect aim.

The film is written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson. Johnson loves all comic books but responded most to daredevil.

"I think it was because he was the only one who had a handicap that made him unique to me. What also sets Daredevil apart from other comic icons is that he's a real guy with real problems. He doesn't have the strength or web-spinning powers of Spider-Man, the brawn of the Hulk or the healing powers of Wolverine. Daredevil is just a guy. If you shoot him he dies."

Johnson having read Ben Affleck's forward to the Kevin Smith (the renowned writer/director) graphic novel knew that the actor was born to play Daredevil. "Not only is Ben a talented and physically gifted actor, he's as big a comic book geek as I am," Johnson says. "A bonus was that, at six-three, he is physically imposing."

Affleck acknowledges that playing Daredevil was more than a typical acting assignment and that he was thrilled to see this important part of his childhood come to life. "The character and comics had this magical kind of mythical appeal to me," he says. "Daredevil is dark and tough, but also sort of sexy and romantic. It's a challenge to take the two-dimensional medium of comics and create a live-action world, making it believable and compelling, all without betraying the original concept."

Before cameras could capture the action, production designer Barry Chusid and his team of set designers, concept illustrators, set decorators and storyboard artists had to create Daredevil's physical world.

In designing the sets, Chusid had to consider the character's blindness and the vibrant colours of the costumes.

Chusid also had everything in Matt's home labelled in Braille from his stainless steel clothing tags to his kitchen cupboards.

Some of Chusid's designs are closely linked to the work of visual effects supervisor Rich Thorne, whose team "built" a portion of Daredevil's Hell's Kitchen in the computer. Much of the visual effects department's work centred on Daredevil's unique shadow world, which works somewhat like a sonar, taking it a step further.

Like sonar, Daredevil's hyper acute hearing defines shapes by the way sound waves bounce off to them. But his abilities go far beyond conventional sonar - details of shapes are more "visible" to Daredevil than they are to our naked eye.

To render this realistic and three dimensional shadow world, sound waves are shown and defined by shadow not shot by light.

Daredevil's costume, designed by three-time Academy Award winner, James Acheson, presents a departure from the spandex-clad superhero template.

Its look merges the comic tradition with contemporary sensibilities and practicality. The separate jacket and pants have built-in chest and arm muscles that work as body armour; the deep red colour is able to go to black when in shadow and the mask has a sculpted expression with custom tinted red lenses.

The boots are an aerodynamic version of a motocross boot complete with buckles.

With some of the top martial arts choreographers, action specialists and trainers coming together, the film promises to be unadulterated fun.

All super-hero and comic enthusiasts could make a date with the latest entrant from the Marvel stable.