Directed by Starring Ben Affleck, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Garner and Michael Clarke Duncan.

It couldn't have been harder. After sitting on goldmine characters for years, Marvel Comics finally saw their heroes make the jump from shelves to cinemas. Blade, The X-Men, Spider-Man all did big to huge business at the box office, making the successes of Marvel's rivals DC Comics with Batman and Superman seem like stories from your Grandad.

And with Ang Lee's take on stablemate The Hulk set to roast the tills this summer, Daredevil had his work cut out: a lesser known – but much cherished – Marvel hero, a February release date and a huge question mark about whether its star could cut it as "the man without fear" after a series of letdown movies. The answer is the one no fan wanted – from the script through to the suit, Daredevil is a mess.

Affleck plays Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer who at night swaps the bar for a billy club and becomes Daredevil, protector – and often judge, jury and executioner – in New York's Hell's Kitchen. Having lost his sight in a childhood accident, Murdock's other senses have been heightened to such an extent that they're now like a radar system as he jumps and swings from building to bust-up in the city.

Whether he's made the streets any safer, Murdock's own life is a mess. Unable to form relationships, troubled by his past and the violence of his present, he's ripped between the desire to do good and the public perception of him as a menace vigilante. The chance of salvation comes as Elektra Natchios (Garner), the high-kicking, deep-thinking daughter of an Ambassador who can match Murdock move for move and shares the same sense of personal loss. But Elektra's father isn't the Mr Clean society believes, and his bid to escape from the underworld brings the new lovers into a stand-off with crime boss The Kingpin (Duncan) and his blade-for-hire Bullseye (Farrell).

Seeing Affleck mug his way through the whole film, you're constantly nagged by the question - was he cast just because they knew his jawline would look good in a mask? Both Edward Norton and Guy Pearce were rumours for the role and - it may be wishful thinking with a plot this ropey - perhaps they could have brought a depth and drama to the character that is beyond Affleck. With no favours done for him with an outfit that's more fetish than fantastic, he's as wooden as his stick and the film has more laugh loud moments than some of what pass as Hollywood comedies right now.

Johnson should be praised for some nice visuals (how Murdock 'sees' is a real highlight) but 'Daredevil' is so hilariously episodic that it can never sustain the moodiness it assumes is there from the opening frame. Murdock's first encounter with his new woman plays like a deodorant ad with some martial arts thrown in, his crises of conscience always seem to take place on the edge of buildings and when he finally gets to stuff his mouth with some, ahem, Natchios, it's like a chocolate box should be product placed at the foot of the bed.

The two highlights in this film are the people who were there to make Affleck look great but end up making you point and giggle at him even more. Garner's all too brief appearance as Elektra leaves you convinced she had a much bigger part to play, while the scene where she practices her combat techniques is the best action sequence in the whole film.

But even Garner's beauty and athleticism is nothing compared to the real star: Farrell. So over-the-top that a winch could've been used to lower him into character, he keeps the Dub accent and makes his monosyllabic nutter have all the best lines in the film. His performance could be the first in US cinema history to be entirely informed by the gurriers who end up sitting beside you on the last bus home but both he and Garner should've got their own movie together because what they've ended up in is definitely not worth seeing.

Harry Guerin