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Law is a Ass by Bob Ingersoll
Join us each Tuesday as Bob Ingersoll analyzes how the law
is portrayed in comics then explains how it would really work.

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THE LAW IS A ASS for 04/15/2003
DOCKET ENTRY

"The Law is a Ass" Installment # 192

Originally written as installment # 169 and published in Comics Buyer's Guide issue # 817, July 14, 1989 issue


A few months back the movie Daredevil came out. You remember it don't you? Watching that movie was an unsettling experience for me. As I watched the movie, I could see each and every flaw in the movie--the bad in media res beginning, because the writer/director couldn't be bothered thinking up a compelling visual to start the movie; the change in DD's origin which completely leached all of young Matt Murdock's nobility out of it; the older Matt Murdock seeming to be an incompetent lawyer; Daredevil allowing the rapist to die on the subway tracks (not to mention the lame one-line he told while doing it; gasoline logos that aren't broken up by the scads of police walking over them; the pointless fight between Matt Murdock and Electra; Matt Murdock having an easily identifiable marking on his cane, so that anyone who found it in its Daredevil billy club form could figure out DD's secret identity; the whole Coolio subplot being excised so we never actually get to see that Matt is an effective lawyer; fight scenes which were scripted as wire fights but were shot as as cheesy-looking CGI fights; Daredevil dodging the broken glass missiles Bullseye was throwing at him by doing a series of back handsprings and Bullseye never figuring out that all he had to do was aim lower; Daredevil throwing Bullseye out of a window; Daredevil not killing the Kingpin, so that we could learn this story was about his soul's redemption, even though there wasn't enough time between his trying to kill Bullseye and his not trying to kill Kingpin for that soul-altering epiphany to have made any sense--yes I saw all of these and more. I knew the movie really wasn't very good.

Usually, when I see that many flaws in a movie while I watch it (as opposed to when I think about it later and go, "Hey, wait a minute..." it's a sign that the movie is bad and I didn't like it.

Usually. Not so with Daredevil

I liked it.

I can't explain it, but I liked it. Maybe, in years to come I'll regard it as one of those "guilty pleasures." Maybe something will occur to me that didn't occur to me then. But, and I simply can't tell you why, I liked it.

Fortunately, I didn't have any such conflicted reactions about the last time they tried to make a movie about Daredevil, as you'll see below. That made-for-TV Hulk movie with Daredevil in it, that started bad, ended bad, and maintained its badness throughout.

I'm proud to say that movie I didn't like.

******

THE LAW IS A ASS
Installment # 192
by
BOB INGERSOLL

We wuz robbed! No, I'm not talking about all the pre-broadcast controversy over the made-for-TV movie, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. Controversy that piled up like dirty dishes on a weekend. Controversy which ultimately--like Shakespeare's song of a fool--proved to be full of sound and fury and signified nothing. You know the controversy I mean. Will Daredevil be blind? Will he have a red suit? At that point, who cared? We had already seen what NBC and the Hulk producers did to Thor in the earlier TV movie The Incredible Hulk Returns. Like it or not, we knew they'd change any Marvel character they were adapting so as to make him "work better" on TV--assuming a) such a thing is possible and b) that said producers had even an inkling of what made these characters work in the first place, so that they'd be able to "improve on them.". That's not where we were robbed.

We were robbed in the inducement.

You read the name of the movie in TV Guide. It was The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. I don't know what that means where you come from, but where I come from it meant Mr. Green Genes was going to stand trial for something.

You had heard the ads. I don't remember the exact words now, but you know as well as I, they went something like: "The beast within him has finally gone too far, and now the incredible Hulk must stand trial for murder."

You saw the ads. We were specifically shown a scene of David Banner Hulking-out while sitting in the witness box of a courtroom, so the Hulk could destroy said courtroom with all his bulging, green-stained, Lou Ferrigno muscles. Talk about your hostile witness!

What were we to think after all that? I ask you, what were we to think? (I have to ask you, there's no one else around to ask.)

We were supposed to think that Hulk was going to kill someone in one of his Hulk-outs and then stand trial for murder. That's what we were supposed to think.

Did we get that?

No.

Hell, did we get anything even remotely resembling that?

No.

First the Hulk didn't kill anyone. David Banner (Remember he's called David Banner in the TV series, because when the Hulk was originally on TV, the network thought the name Bruce was too sissy. I guess they weren't paying attention, when Bruce Jenner won the gold medal for the decathlon at the time. I should be so sissy!) Anyway, David Banner is riding a subway. He sees two armed men accosting a woman. (I say accosting, because the movie was on in prime time. I'm not sure they were able to go as far as attempting rape.) David tries to help but is hit. So he Hulks-out. The would-be assailants panic. One shoots. But the shot goes wild, flies through the window, and kills someone waiting on the platform for the next train. The men put a scare into the woman victim, and she tells the police that David Banner attacked her and fired the fatal shot. So David is arrested for felony murder.

Already I was cheated. The Hulk didn't lose control of his bestial nature. The Hulk didn't kill anyone--he didn't even muss anyone's hair. Shoot, it wasn't even the Hulk's trial.

Where was the pathos I was misled into believing I would see, as David Banner had to deal with the fact that the Hulk killed someone? Where was the drama? Where was the writer?

On vacation, that's where. We didn't get drama and pathos; we got David Banner on trial in one of those cliched situations, where his defense counsel--Matt (Daredevil) Murdock, in case you weren't paying attention--has to convince the scared woman victim to tell the truth.

Yawn City! We didn't need Daredevil, we needed Bud Collier.

However, I was willing to accept that as a premise. At least, it got Banner into the courtroom, so we could have the Hulk-out in the witness box scene we had been shown in every ad for the movie. I settled back in my La-Z boy and waited.

I didn't wait long.

CUT TO: David Banner asleep in his jail cell. He is tossing and turning in his sleep. They weren't . . .

I mean, I've seen this scene in TV and the movies dozens of times. I knew what was coming. You've seen this scene dozens of times, too. You knew what was coming. The dog's seen this several dozen times. It knew what was coming.

Still, I thought--I hoped, I prayed--they're weren't leading up to, what we all knew they were leading up to.

Yes, they were.

Dream sequence.

And not just any old dream sequence, either. The Hulk-out in the courtroom scene, the one we were all waiting for? The whole thing was a dream, a nightmare, a lousy prison-food induced night-sweat torment.

It never happened.

We wuz robbed.

You waited all week for this movie just so you could see the Hulk do to a courtroom what you've always wanted to do to a courtroom, yourself. And it was a dream, a nightmare, a lousy prison-food induced torment. It never happened.

Me, because I wanted to see the same thing, and it was still a dream, a nightmare . . . Well, you get the idea. Maybe we can report NBC and the Hulk producers to the BBB for fraud in the inducement.

There I was pen in hand all ready to take notes on what, I was sure, would be another classically inaccurate Hollywood courtroom scene, and I get a dream.

How am I supposed to critique a dream? What, they got it wrong? Of course they got it wrong! It was--For crying out loud!--a dream. Dreams always get it wrong!

I'll get them. I'll think of something. Just let me move on with the movie for now, but I'll think of something.

It turns out that the would-be rapists in question worked for Winston Fisk, the local kingpin of crime--although they never called him that. He doesn't want the men connected back to him, so he arranges to have the girl victim kidnapped. Bad mistake, Winnie.

******

We interrupt our regularly scheduled column for an important announcement: I thought of something! Play back your tape of the movie, if you haven't done the prudent thing by now and bulk-erased the sucker. Look at that courtroom dream sequence again. Look at the jury box. Look at the person sitting in the Juror # 1 chair. Look at him carefully. It's Stan Lee.

What was Stan Lee doing on the Hulk and Daredevil's jury? I happen to know for a fact that Stan's intimate with both the defendant and the defense attorney. Why, he's almost a father to them. He should have been dismissed as a juror for cause.

What's the story here, Stan? Everyone and his brother wants to get out of jury duty. (Yes, I mean everyone! Why do you think I became a lawyer? Lawyers are never called for jury duty.) But you go out of your way to sit on a jury you can't properly sit on in the first place. Where's your civic pride, man? Next time do what everyone else does: bring a note from your mother.

We now rejoin our regularly scheduled column, already in progress.

******

Eventually, as we knew they would, Daredevil and the Hulk rescue the hapless victim. Before they did, however, she was not having a good day. She was kidnaped, she was bound up in Fisk Tower, she was used to bait a trap designed to kill Daredevil--where she saw Fisk himself running things, and someone tried to kill her on Fisk's orders, which she heard him deliver. Finally, after she was rescued, she ran out of Fisk Tower to the police. Now, I've read where the Daredevil part of this movie was a pilot film for a proposed TV series which would feature stories of Daredevil fighting the Kingpin for control of the city.

This cannot be. The woman victim had to have told the police what she knew. She had to have told them that she had been kidnaped, that Fisk ordered her execution, that she had seen Fisk orchestrate a murder attempt on Daredevil, and that she escaped from the Fisk Tower.

Only a fraction of that would have given the police sufficient probable cause to secure a search warrant for Fisk Tower. All of it would have given the police sufficient probable cause to get a search warrant for Fisk's minister. They should have found enough incriminating evidence for several arrest warrants and a few extraneous all-points bulletins on Winnie. Winston should be far too busy playing fugitive from justice to come back to the city and plague Daredevil's life.

Which is just as well. Personally--and assuming they turn Daredevil into a weekly series--I'd rather see how NBC handled some of Horn Head's classic villains. Like Stilt Man or Leap Frog.

Now that would be a series!

Bob Ingersoll

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Recent Installments:
NEWESTInstallment #193 (05/27/2003)
05/13/2003"Court's Adjourned" Installment # 5
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