When Michael Clarke Duncan was cast, he weighed two hundred ninety pounds. He was asked to gain forty pounds for the role, in order to fit the physique of Kingpin. In order to do this, he would lift weights for thirty minutes a day, and power-lifted with one or two reps a day, as well as eating whatever he wanted.
Although Ben Affleck is a fan of the character, acting him out was such an unpleasant experience that, in November 2006, Affleck stated that he would never reprise the role, having felt "by playing a superhero in 'Daredevil', I have inoculated myself from ever playing another superhero. Wearing a costume was a source of humiliation for me, and something I wouldn't want to do again soon." It is believed that the Daredevil costume was very uncomfortable to wear. However, in 2013 Affleck accepted an agreement to play Batman, starting with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
In the comics, the Kingpin is white, but in the movie, he is played by an African-American, Michael Clarke Duncan who has the same basic build as the character. The studio was convinced to use Duncan after several white wrestlers gave poor screentests. However, when the original character was first written for Marvel Comics, he was sketched as an African-American, but the idea was scrapped, due to censors feeling that an African-American villain would have struck nerves in the media. (The character was introduced in 1967, during the Civil Rights Movement.)
Michael Clarke Duncan was often put on lifts or boxes, to make him tower over everyone else, particularly in his scenes with Ben Affleck, who is 6'4". The same thing was done for Duncan in The Green Mile (1999).
After negative critical and audience reactions, and Ben Affleck's refusal to play the character a second time, numerous producers and screenwriters were attached to a potential Daredevil reboot. An initial deadline of October 10, 2012 was set that if the movie didn't start filming before that date, the rights would go back to Marvel Studios. David Slade was originally attached to direct, before dropping out over a scheduling conflict in August 2012. Joe Carnahan pitched a sizzle reel to 20th Century Fox executives, depicting the character in a hard boiled, 1970s-set thriller in Manhattan. But the studio chose to let the live action film rights lapse, and go back to Marvel. Marvel chose to do Daredevil (2015) as a live action television series for Netflix, with the character fitting within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Guy Pearce was offered the lead role, but turned it down as comic book movies were not really his bag. Pearce would later change his tune by taking the pivotal role of Doctor Aldrich Killian in Iron Man Three (2013).
The fourth Marvel entity to make it to the big screen after Blade (1998), Blade II (2002), X-Men (2000), and Spider-Man (2002). The seventh after Punisher (1989) and Captain America (1990) were both released in a limited capacity in the U.S., and Howard the Duck (1986), although not an action hero, is also owned by Marvel.
The film pays homage to numerous "Daredevil" writers and artists: Stan Lee: Daredevil's original creator makes his cameo as the man who young Matt Murdock stops from crossing the street. Wrote Daredevil (1964-1969). Kirby, the lab assistant played by Kevin Smith (see final item): Comic book artist Jack Kirby (assorted Daredevil covers in 1964-1968). Father Everett: Bill Everett, Daredevil's original artist (drew first issue of Daredevil in 1964, then assorted covers 1966-1972). Jose Quesada (the rapist): Joe Quesada, Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, and artist of Daredevil 1998-2000. Colan (a boxer): Gene Colan, another Daredevil artist 1966-1974. John Romita (the boxer, against whom Jack Murdock is supposed to dive): John Romita Sr., Sr. was a Daredevil artist in 1966, and John Romita Jr. was a Daredevil artist 1988-1990. Kane (a thug): Gil Kane, Daredevil cover artist 1971=1978. Miller, Mack, Bendis (other boxers): Frank Miller, writer and artist 1979-1983, David Mack, artist 1999-2001, and Brian Michael Bendis, writer of Daredevil beginning 1999, and was still doing so when the film came out. Kevin Smith, author whose Daredevil work is collected in "Daredevil Visionaries: Kevin Smith", appears as the lab assistant Kirby, named for another artist mentioned above.
Matthew Murdock and his alter ego Daredevil (sometimes represented as Dare Devil or DD, as he often signs his name in this film) are two examples of the alliterative names of which Stan Lee and his disciples were so fond. Others are Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Scott Summers, Warren Worthington, Stephen Strange, Pepper Potts, J. Jonah Jameson, Betty Brant, Curt Connors, Frederick Foswell, Man Mountain Michael Marko, Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, Dumdum Dugan, Doctor Doom, Maxwell Markham, Green Goblin, Grey Gargoyle, Otto Octavius, Black Bolt, Maximus the Mad, Metal Master, Michael Morbius, Molten Man, Mole Men, and Sinister Six.
While working on this movie, Actor and Director Jon Favreau began discussions with Marvel over what would eventually become Iron Man (2008), which is the first of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Once the Daredevil rights reverted back to Marvel in 2012, they announced plans to start a Daredevil (2015) Netflix series set in the same Cinematic Universe.
Colin Farrell was considered for the part of Daredevil, until Ben Affleck signed on the dotted line. Ironically enough, Colin Farrell eventually established the part of Bullseye which Ben Affleck was considered for.
The success of Spider-Man (2002) prompted 20th Century Fox to raise the budget from fifty million dollars to eighty million dollars. It made back the bulk of that (seventy million dollars) in just ten days.
Vin Diesel was considering playing the part of Daredevil, but opted for The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) instead. Ironically, in that film, his character, "Riddick", possesses visual enhancements. Diesel would later go onto playing Groot, another Marvel character in the Guardians of the Galaxy film series, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
If you look closely at Colin Farrell in Bullseye's opening scene in the pub, you'll see that his neck and the top of his chest are peeling. This is a sunburn, from which Colin Farrell was suffering at the time of filming, as he'd returned from a vacation in Mexico.
Matt Murdock's break-up phone message from "Heather", is a reference to Heather Glenn, Murdock's girlfriend during Frank Miller's first run on the Daredevil comic book. Murdock and Heather broke up near the end of that run.
Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. The Kingpin, first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #50 in 1967. It wasn't until Daredevil #170 in 1981, when Frank Miller was writing, that he tangled with Daredevil, and since then, he became a major part of the Daredevil comics.
The Braille writing on the charm pendant spells "Ailektra". First character is single dot in the middle - Braille letter "A" (characters with dots only in first column "K" and "L" are placed in the middle).
The DVD shows an animatic, which was an intended sequence of Daredevil jumping over trucks and cars to reach (presumably) Kingpin's office. However, it was deemed to complex, and therefore too expensive to shoot.
In the closing scenes, Daredevil calls himself a "Guardian Devil", the title of a Daredevil storyline (running in DD Volume 2, #1-8), written by Kevin Smith (who plays lab assistant Kirby in this movie). As these words are spoken, Daredevil is shown upside-down in mid-air, with his baton strings surrounding him, replicating one of the covers in that series.
According to Gary Foster, Avi Arad, and Mark Steven Johnson, the Director's Cut DVD of this feature, was in fact the originally intended theatrical release, until the last minute, when they decided to make the changes necessary to please 20th Century Fox, to get the film a PG-13 rating.
Ben Affleck was cast as Daredevil because Kevin Smith (appearing here as Kirby the lab tech) suggested him to Writer and Director Mark Steven Johnson. Smith, who directed Affleck in four films from the "View Askewniverse" series, and would later reunite in Jersey Girl (2004), also wrote at least one of the comic books, on which this movie is based.
Although the Marvel characters Daredevil and Spider-Man often work together in the comics, it was decided that all references to the latter character had to be removed, since the licenses were given to separate film companies. This includes the decision that The Kingpin (Spider-Man's enemy) would never appear in the Spider-Man film franchise, and the reporter Ben Urich (who often works with Peter Parker) would not work for the Daily Bugle. Michael Clarke Duncan would nonetheless reprise the role of Kingpin for the animated Spider-Man (2003) series, since the television rights did not have the same divide.
A subplot with a character played by rapper Coolio was removed, primarily to make the film shorter, and get it a PG-13 rating. However, Coolio was featured in trailers for the film. The subplot can be seen in the director's cut of the movie however.
In the comics, Bullseye wears a blue and white costume. This wasn't used in the film, in keeping with its realistic tone. Although at some point in the film, he tells Fisk that he wants a costume, he's never seen in one.
Originally, this was going to be a relatively low-budget film of fifty million dollars. However, during shooting in the summer of 2002, another film about a Marvel Comics character, Spider-Man (2002), became a spectacular success, and Mark Steven Johnson was soon asked by 20th Century Fox executives to enhance the film's visuals, and his budget was raised to eighty million dollars to accomplish that.
20th Century Fox first acquired the rights to Daredevil from Marvel in 1997. Chris Columbus was initially attached to direct. The following year, Marvel was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, so Fox let the option slide. Disney then expressed an interest in the character, but that didn't pan out. Mark Steven Johnson realized his life's ambition in 1999, when Marvel assigned the rights to Sony, and he was hired to write the screenplay. However, the following year, Sony put the project in turnaround. It was picked up by New Regency with Fox distributing, but Johnson found himself having to (successfully) re-pitch himself for the writing and directing gig.
The opening scene where Bullseye is playing darts, was filmed at Ye Olde King's Head Pub in Santa Monica. Appropriately enough, the board on which he is playing, is the "A-list" board, reserved for better players.
The core storyline was based on Frank Miller's story arcs. The introduction and flashback was taken from his mini-series "Daredevil: Man Without Fear", and many of the sequences follow John Romita Jr.'s art work shot-for-shot. The Elektra storyline occurred in Miller's original run on the comic in the early 1980s.
Patrick Wilson auditioned for a role in this film. Wilson was later cast in another Marvel film: Ant-Man, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Wilson had to drop out of that film due to scheduling issues.
The character of Bullseye was created by comic book Writer Marv Wolfman and Artist John Romita, Sr. for Daredevil #131 (March 1976 issues). He was drawn, in that first appearance, by Bob Brown, and inked by Klaus Janson.
According to Producer Gary Foster, Brett Cullen was considered to play the part of Matt Murdock's father and Donal Logue for the role of Foggy Nelson. They ended up playing similar parts in Ghost Rider (2007) (from the same Director and Producer), namely Johnny Blaze's father and best friend, respectively.
In the fight scene between Daredevil and Bullseye in the church, Daredevil Is sent crashing through the pipes of the church organ, and several bats fly out. Ben Affleck plays Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), Justice League (2017), and their respective planned sequels.
It is rather coincidental that the one detective asked for his S.W.A.T. team while Daredevil and Bullseye were fighting in the church because Colin Farrell, (Bullseye), starred in the movie Swat which was theatrically released this same year.
Stan Lee: An elderly man that a young Matt Murdock stops from walking in the streets by holding out his walking stick in front of him. Lee's character is based around the elderly blind man from the comics which Matt saved, but also resulted in the accident that gave him his powers.
Kevin Smith: Kirby the lab assistant. Smith wrote two acclaimed comics for the hero, "Guardian Devil" and "Daredevil/Bullseye: The Target". The character is named after the legendary Jack Kirby, who illustrated many of Stan Lee's comics during the 1960s, although Jack Kirby's work on Daredevil was mostly limited to the cover illustrations.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When Elektra is stabbed by Bullseye, his blade doesn't pierce the back of her outfit. This was a nod to the original comic, Daredevil #181. Marvel could not show a blade piercing a body and still have the issue approved by the Comics Code Authority. The artists got around it by showing the blade pushing the back of her outfit up, letting the audience know that she had been stabbed, without actually showing it.
In the Director's Cut, a policeman was to commit perjury on the stand. While Daredevil's sense allow him to detect perjury (since people's hearts tend to beat faster when not telling the truth, and heightened senses allows one to detect the heart beating faster), the policeman's perjury receives a false negative, for the simple reason that the policeman had a pacemaker in his heart, which regulated his heartbeat. A similar incident happened in Daredevil #184, where a man with a pacemaker also received a false negative.
Nikolas Natchios' name in the original comics is Hugo Natchios. Additionally, while the film portrayed him as a billionaire, with connections to organized crime, the comics portrayed him as a Greek Ambassador. His time of death in the comics occurred before Matt Murdock had begun his vigilante activities as Daredevil, which was during the Frank Miller run.
In the film, Matt runs into an industrial area where a forklift accidentally damages a container filled with toxic waste that falls on his face. In the comics, Matt saves an elderly blind man from being run over by a truck, but a radioactive isotope fell out of the truck and struck Matt in the face.
The love scene between Matt and Elektra after the rainstorm, and the confession booth scenes were added at the last minute, after director Mark Steven Johnson had re-cut the film to ensure a PG-13 rating, calling them coverage shots of his original intentions.
At the end of the final confrontation with the Kingpin, Daredevil says, "Justice is served". This is the catchphrase of another Marvel comic character, the enigmatic vigilante Scourge, who would use the same line after murdering Marvel villains.
In the original comics, Matt's father Jack won the fixed boxing match, and was murdered that night when Matt was in law school, while in the movie, he was murdered sometime after Matt became blind while he was twelve years old. Additionally, in the original Marvel Universe, The Kingpin was not involved with Jack Murdock's death (though in the Ultimate Universe he is), and the name of the criminal, for whom Jack worked, was Roscoe Sweeney, a.k.a. The Fixer, while the movie has him working for a mob boss named Fallon.
Bullseye killed Nikolas Natchios almost the exact same way that he killed Karen Page in the comics (Daredevil # 5 1999). Although, instead of Nikolas being killed by one of Daredevil's billy clubs, like in the movie, his own stick is actually meant for Daredevil himself, and Karen jumps in front of it at the last moment, and is killed almost instantly.