I'm Just Sayin'…#30
by Greg Manuel on October 8, 2008

Before we get back to the principle topic of discussion, I wanna take a quick second and draw open the curtains to KNEE-JERK REACTION THEATRE once more, as NEWSARAMA reports that the CW will soon be airing a pilot in the vein of the highly successful SMALLVILLE, and this time it’s the story of Robin…

…before he became Robin.

According to Newsarama, Variety offered this blurb with regards toTHE GRAYSONS - In the one-hour “Graysons,” which will be set in modern times, young DJ [as Richard John “Dick” Grayson shall be known] will face challenges involving first loves, young rivals and his family as he grows up. [Executive Producers Kelly] Souders and [Brian] Peterson have come up with an original take on the character.

MY KNEE-JERK REACTION: Pass before the pilot even airs.

Mind you, a well-told story is a well-told story, so if THE GRAYSONS can deliver, more power to’em. Nevertheless, if it takes off, I can see myself caring as little about this series as I do about SMALLVILLE. Sorry to say, but I’m not very interested in a series centered around superheroes before they became superheroes. Especially when it comes to DC characters, where the iconic nature of the heroic identity has always held so much weight. Give me Clark Kent, and I’ll expect Superman. Give me “DJ” Grayson, and I’ll expect Robin, and in turn I’ll expect Batman. And since I already know that we won’t get that until the very end of the program – after all, we can’t have a Robin while there are still Graysons – there’s no incentive for me to watch. So good luck, but no thanks.

Ok, back to the main discussion, set forth by the possibility that Marvel Films and 20th Century Fox could take another shot at DAREDEVIL as a film franchise, which has led me to get into several of the many missteps taken in the original movie. Last week, I got into the COSTUMING, and how many grossly unnecessary changes were made to Hornhead’s outfit, creating a heavy, leather eyesore…

…when with just a little ingenuity as such employed by costume designers for – ironically enough – a superhero series that doesn’t exactly have superheroes in it…

Alan Ritchson here depicted as Aquaman in a SMALLVILLE episode.

…we could’ve gotten to see Daredevil in all his glory. Now we move on to another big part of superhero movies – CASTING.

I’ve sat in many a discussion over this hypothetical superhero movie or that, getting into how Actor A would be GREAT for the role of Comic Character B, so on and so forth. I’ve developed the opinion that, when it comes to the main roles in a superhero movie, the most important thing is that the actor should be the precise blend of star recognition, facial resemblance and acting ability, that s/he be completely swallowed up by the character s/he portrays.

Case in point: Who do you see here?

Do you see Christopher Reeve, or do you see Superman?

How about this one?

Or this one?

And of course, the best examples of the genre yet…

Who do you see?

Who do you see?

Who do you see?

All of these are prime examples of well-chosen actors to play characters who through years of publishing and well-written, well-drawn storys, sagas, storyarcs, have been elevated to iconic status. You don’t see them as who they really are, so much as you see them for the character they’re meant to play. They’re just the right amount of famous, and just the right amount of facial resemblance – aided along the way via costuming and makeup – and they have just the right acting ability to make it all work.

This is where DAREDEVIL fell short.

Don’t get me wrong, now – David Keith as Battlin’ Jack Murdock?

A fine choice. Jon Favreau as Foggy Nelson?

A highlight of the film. But the guy holding it all together?

In my single solitary opinion. Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock/Daredevil? Dial M for mmmmmistake.

This wasn’t the only problem I had with the casting – the casting choice for Bullseye was another mistake, and I’m not so sure if the choices for Elektra and the Kingpin were the best either…and was Karen Page even in the movie? In any case, the main problem I had when I was watching the movie, was in the lead player. I didn’t feel as though I was watching Matt Murdock in the movie. I may have known that Tobey MacGuire was playing Peter Parker, but once any of the three SPIDER-MAN movies started, it was though Tobey receded into the role, and all that was left was Peter.

Not so in the case of DAREDEVIL – Ben Affleck was already a little too famous all on his own, and as a result Ben Affleck was too close to the surface of the character he was playing. So once the movie got going, I could not get past it. Not once did I see Matt Murdock. Heck, you’d think when he was playing Daredevil, the mask would’ve helped. Instead, I felt like I was watching Ben Affleck sporting dyed hair and red sunglasses, Ben Affleck in a horn-headed leather mask, Ben Affleck making out with Jennifer Garner…I just couldn’t get past the fact that I was watching Ben Affleck portraying Daredevil, instead of just watching Daredevil.

So if Marvel and 20th Century want to give this another go, they might want to get someone who may not necessarily be as much of a household name. When I first started writing this series, I was all set to suggest Alan Ritchson, pictured a few paragraphs higher as Aquaman on SMALLVILLE, since he seemed to have just the right build. However, since I don’t watch the show, I know nothing about his acting ability.

Then, I rented SPEED RACER on OnDemand, and not only was I entertained beyond my wildest expectations – I wasn’t that big of a fan of the cartoon so I was only peripherally interested in the movie – but I think I saw just the man to play the part of the scrappy blind lawyer/guardian of Hell’s Kitchen.

And wouldja look at that - he's already named Matt!

Matthew Fox is already well-known to fans of the television show LOST, but again, I wouldn’t have known since I don’t watch the show. However, when I saw him play this guy…

…I was convinced in an instant. It’s in the voice he employs during his first appearance as Racer X after rescuing Taejo Togokhan, and the down-to-business, grim arrogance he projects throughout the rest of the movie when he’s rocking that black mask. It’s in the sheer glee that radiates from his being, the scoundrel’s grin he flashes while punching out hot-rodding Vikings in the midst of the insanely lethal Casa Cristo 5000 race – all while behind the wheel of a somersaulting car. It’s in the deep sadness on his face when we learn that he is in fact Speed’s long, thought-dead brother Rex…this is your Man Without Fear, folks. I have no doubt. Just let him shine, give him a great script, a great supporting cast, don’t saddle him with a heavy leather costume or a ton of useless CGI, and you will have a killer of a movie. I’m certain of it.

I wanna invite you to write in and let me know what you might be thinking in terms of other casting moves, because next week I want to discuss STORY. Hope you’re enjoying the read, and we’ll be back with more! Til then, I’m Greg Manuel and I’m just sayin’, is all…



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