Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was in full swing, comic book movies were a niche corner of Hollywood that featured big names or virtual unknowns to portray the character. While most of these films struggled to connect with a wider audience, most entries did what was possible to deliver a cohesive story with elements from the source material to bring it to life. 2003 daredevil was one such example, and while it has since paled in comparison to the most current iteration, it has a crown that no film has taken since – Easter Eggs.
Easter eggs have become mainstays of many franchise movies as they could allude to the medium they exist in, past movies, or completely different franchises. daredevil was one of the most unique examples of Easter eggs, as the backbone of the film was based on a celebration of the source material. In fact, audiences would be hard pressed to find a scene or instance where there wasn’t a nod to the greatest daredevil universe.
Perhaps the movie’s biggest Easter egg was carried throughout the runtime, both verbally and visually. Where most Marvel movies primarily focused on Stan Lee as their big cameo, Daredevil included him and the names and faces of other creators who contributed to the mythos. Kevin Smith and Frank Miller both made cameo appearances in the film alongside Lee, while other creators from Gil Kane to Bill Everett were mentioned. Rather than briefly focusing on graffiti art to signify appearance, these names played real roles, from boxers to real characters.
Another thing that kept the myth of daredevil alive was how he used the many characters in his universe, especially Matt’s love interests. One of the most defining qualities of the character was the number of girlfriends he had. In fact, one of the movie’s subplots revolved around Matt finding and losing love. As the film begins, Matt receives a voicemail from a comic book girlfriend, Heather Glenn, leaving Matt. Although Karen Page didn’t play a major role, she was also shown in the film, along with Elektra, but those weren’t the only comic book references seen in the film.
Comedic imagery was abundant in the film, most of which recalled a few pivotal moments in Daredevil’s history. The beginning of the film showed Daredevil leaning next to a huge crucifix, kissing it. It was reminiscent of one of the many comic book covers, while the film’s final shot saw Daredevil pull his billy club hook across the screen, calling himself a guardian devil. The shot was reminiscent of another Joe Quesada cover, while the term Guardian Devil referred to a story of the same name.
Elektra’s death at the hands of Bullseye was also recreated blow for blow, and her battle with Daredevil in the church and the death of Karen Page were also honored, although Karen’s death by billy club was used on Elektra’s father instead. Finally, Elektra’s motivations for revenge and playground fighting were also reminiscent of Daredevil: Parts of a Hole story that introduced Echo, who also wanted to kill Daredevil for the framed death of his father by Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin.
While all of these instances are undoubtedly clever, the best easter egg is in the film’s tone. daredevil was heavily influenced by the tone of Frank Miller’s run on the book. From silent introspection to multiple moments of loss and grief. The film wouldn’t be what it is without the tone set by Miller’s storylines. At the end, daredevil remained the king of Easter eggs for a Marvel movie for a reason: Beneath the film’s story and elements, the film’s foundation is based on inspirations from the past.