Really? “Daredevil” Is All It Takes? Why Are Superheroes Different?


Warning: Commentary ahead.

So it's been more than a week, and this is still bothering me.

Of course, it shouldn't be, because "The Internet is a communication tool used the world over where people can come together to bitch about movies and share pornography with one another." People are just doing what people do. But they're being really silly about it.

Also, before we start: I know that some of you have legitimate reasons to be concerned about Affleck on Batman. I don't need to hear them all in the comments. I'm just exasperated by this one recurring comment that doesn't seem to go away and frankly makes no sense.

Yes, yes, "Daredevil" was trending immediately after Ben Affleck was announced as the next Batman, and everyone can understand why. But the fact that it's been such a persistent (and one-note) commentary from opponents of his casting is an interesting little drama for me. Because, as the headline says, the thing that comes up in my head is, "Really? You think just the words "Daredevil" is enough to win the argument?"

Ben Affleck snubbedAffleck also managed to make a bad spy movie in the form of Sum of All Fears, and nobody tried to argue that he should be banned from life from the genre (a suggestion that would have made Argo impossible). And that's just Affleck, and it's intentionally ignoring the fact that he has been held to a different standard than was Chris Evans following the flopped Fantastic Four movies he did before Captain America ever came across his desk.

"He should be banned from superhero movies forever after Daredevil" is a phrase that I've read more than once--probably more than a dozen times--since Affleck was cast, and it's the sentiment I'm taking issue with.

First of all, even removing the specific comment and going at its real emotional core: this is an actor and filmmaker who's been active in mainstream film for 20 years, and there are an awful lot of people out there who are basing expectations for the future on a three-year period about a decade ago. When confronted with the idea that fanboys had freaked out over Heath Ledger as well, one of our readers snapped back, "But was Ledger in Gigli or Jersey Girl?"

That's the fundamental disconnect between many of Affleck's detractors and his supporters (or people like myself who are just willing to wait and see at least a trailer before we pass judgment either way): A lot of people are simply stuck on this year or so in 2003 when Affleck did what he's already admitted were a series of bad movies he wouldn't do again. It's either petty, or short-sighted and silly, and either one of those isn't exactly the way you want your criticism to be perceived.

That's to be expected, to a certain extent; Warner Bros. picked somebody who wasn't just known, wasn't just famous, but spent a period of time not all that long ago as one of the three or four most famous and in-demand leading men in Hollywood. And they brought that actor to Batman, the superhero with the broadest possible cinematic appeal and the most to compare him to, in the form of the four previous actors to play the role in the recent past. They had to know that there would be a response, and the stony silence from Snyder, Affleck and Warner Bros. was likely planned months ago.

You can't, after all, win most of these detractors over and arguing with them is essentially a fruitless exercise. The most you can do is hope to give them some food for thought and see if they come back with a more legitimate critique.


And here's the problem: By saying, "Well, he did a bad superhero movie, so he should never do a superhero movie again," you're treating superhero movies like they're somehow different from other films. And in doing so you're lending credence to the people who essentially argue that they're all the same, and not to be taken seriously. If you're a fan of superheroes, is it really worth it to devalue everything those stories have to offer just to score some cheap points on Batfleck?

Is that oversimplifying? Maybe, but it's worth considering when you're getting all worked up into a lather about ten-year-old movies. At a bare minimum, people outside of the comics community--who may remember Daredevil as pretty bad but weren't scarred by it in the way that regular comics readers were--will likely see that kind of hysterical reaction and shrug it off.