A Fact-Check for the Four-Color World

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Daredevil: Quesada's Comeuppance

Daredevil: The Director's Cut

I bought the Daredevil Director's Cut DVD several months back, and I finally got around to watching it recently. It was a definite improvement over the Theatrical Cut, and I would readily say that it's better than all the Marvel movies that weren't directed by either Sam Raimi or Bryan Singer.

The reason I bought the movie to start with was because one of the added subplots in this version deals with Matt's legal representation of a murder defendant, played by Coolio. And that's not the only law-related aspect of the film, which is fortunate, since the title character is, after all, a lawyer.

Fair warning, I'm going to spoil the heck out of the movie, particularly some of the added material. So if you haven't seen the Director's Cut already, consider yourself warned.

Near the start of the film, we see Matt Murdock in a (suspiciously small) courtroom, questioning a defendant, Jose Quesada, who's on the witness stand. It seems that Mr. Quesada is accused of beating and/or raping the woman that Matt is representing. When Quesada insists that their intimacies were consensual, Matt can tell from his heartbeat that he's lying.

Quesada gets off (more on that in a second). Matt dons his Daredevil costume, and follows Quesada to a bar. Matt ends up fighting a lot of bargoers to get to Quesada, who, in the end, Matt throws onto the subway tracks, where he taunts him before the oncoming subway train cuts him in half.

There's a scene in the Director's Cut where Daredevil tries to console a scared kid, in front of whom Matt's just beaten up a thug, by telling him that he's not the bad guy. Based on his treatment of Mr. Quesada, I think it's fair for the kid to be scared.

It begins with some confusion as to what kind of trial we saw. Was Mr. Quesada a criminal defendant or a civil defendant? Was he on trial for the criminal charge of rape, or was he just being sued by the woman? If it's the former, he's facing serious jail time; if the latter, he'd only owe her money.

Matt is a private attorney, working for the private firm of Nelson & Murdock. He's not a criminal prosecutor, who by nature are government employees, and are the only people who could be prosecuting a criminal rape case. Legally, there's no possibility that what we observed was a criminal trial, despite Quesada's later references to being "acquitted." So by default, it had to be a civil trial.

And that's fine within the context of the trial scene itself. I don't believe that it's all that common for women to sue their rapists, but it's an available route. Plus, the burden of proof is lower. They may not be able to collect much from a lowlife, but at least they could sully his name.

(Incidentally, one funny moment in the trial was when the defense attorney objected to Matt's questioning, and told the court that his client was "a respectable member of the community." Not the best choice of words to describe a guy who was oozing sleeze on the witness stand.)

So if it's a civil trial and Matt loses, all that means is that his client doesn't get any money. He didn't lie his way out of a prison sentence, he lied his way out of owing his victim money. That's it. Apparently, Matt took the loss kinda hard, since he ended up killing the unrepentent Quesada. And that seems like a rather harsh punishment to mete out to a guy who only beat a civil allegation.

Like I said, that little kid was right to be scared.

The best case scenario that I can think of is this: Quesada had already avoided a criminal conviction. Either the prosecutor's office didn't think the evidence was strong enough to pursue rape charges, or it already went to trial and Quesada managed to win. Then Matt comes along to help with a civil trial, and it fails too. Knowing that the guy managed to escape rape allegations twice, Matt takes the law into his own hands.

That's the only way I can make it work. Otherwise, Matt's revenge is driven by nothing more than his failure to win a monetary award and get paid.