With the announcement yesterday that Daredevil is set to be ‘Born Again’ in a new movie directed by 30 Days of Night & Hardy Candy helmer David Slade, attention has quickly turned to who might lead the franchise as the new Matt Murdock.
From what we can gather, the new Daredevil movie will be a semi-sequel to Mark Steven Johnson’s 2003 effort starring Ben Affleck but won’t carry over any of the actors from the original and it won’t be a direct sequel. It will simply be a ‘continuation’ meaning that it will be a story set in a universe where Daredevil is already established as fighting crime and it won’t be an origin film… think Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk and it’s relationship to Ang Lee’s earlier Hulk.
Which means that a new actor is likely to be required and the tricky thing in hiring a lead for a Daredevil movie is that just like the Batman saga, you need to cast two qualities – someone who is capable of playing the blind lawyer aspect of the character (i.e. – the Bruce Wayne part) and someone who can take on the costume and be believable as a costumed avenger. And I imagine it’s not going to be an easy role for Fox to fill.
As we like to do here at OWF as part of our Fantasy Casting series, I’ve come up with eight potential picks for who could be the new Man Without Fear (note these aren’t my top 8 choices, simply a mixture of who I think should circle the role and a few who probably will end up circling).
38 years old
Why: Ben Affleck’s career as Matt Murdock was ended abruptly because he was the unfortunate victim of two circumstances; 1) starring in a very ordinary comic book movie that couldn’t match up to X-Men or Spider-Man that came before it and 2) the media circus surrounding his personal life and his relationship with Jennifer Lopez. Both circumstances over-shadowed what was a perfectly fine performance from Affleck who was effective as both the physical presence of Daredevil and the blind lawyer crusader, Matt Murdock.
He was easily as good as Daredevil as Tobey Maguire was as Spider-Man. Now almost ten years older, Affleck is a force in modern day cinema with considerable and matured acting chops and the idea of what he could do now with the role is highly exciting.
Why Not: Ever since his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, Affleck seems to have leap-frogged the summer blockbusters he was making in 2002/2004 and is determined to be frying bigger fish these days, such as his latest movie The Town, unfortunate to miss out on the Oscars Best Picture ten. He has already turned down the directing gig on Superman: The Man of Steel to focus on this new successful phase of his career and I’m not sure any money Fox could chuck at Affleck would bring him back.
Plus, I’m not sure Fox would want him as they look to erase the last film from our memories. Affleck joins Eric Bana as the victim of the right casting, under the wrong direction.
30 years old
Why: In 2009′s Star Trek and last year’s Unstoppable, former romantic comedy actor Chris Pine has suddenly become an genuine action star, with the kind of charisma and enthusiasm that could lead him to becoming a star who dominants this decade’s biggest films. Pine seems to have the cocky but likeable and good-hearted All-American hero persona nailed down and it’s this empathic quality that has seen him courted by Paramount to star in a new Jack Ryan reboot and also becoming a fan favourite for DC’s superhero The Flash.
But if Fox were quick, could Marvel’s own red costumed avenger beat them both to it?
Why Not: He’s already well established as the new Captain James T. Kirk and with a sequel to J.J. Abrams’ newly revitalized franchise to go before camera’s this summer, it’s clear that the actor is going to be playing Kirk 1 out of every 3 or at a push 4 movies he makes. And with a deal to play Jack Ryan already nailed down… would he really want to be a 100% franchise man?
Plus, a lot of Pine’s power as a performer comes from his eyes… a tool he would lose as blind lawyer Murdock.
33 years old
Why: He was Brett Ratner’s choice to portray Superman when we was to shoot J.J. Abrams’ script eight years ago before production on that epic failed, and you can certainly see why he was picked. He has the look of a virtuous hero and if it were down to physical attributes alone, you couldn’t find anyone on this list more suited. He also has an unknown quality about him, which could work in his favour as he is not already established on screen, so like Brandon Routh and Chris Pine… he can come out of nowhere and perform on the big stage.
Why Not: Of course… just as the unknown quality can be a virtue, it can also just as easily be a hindrance. What do we really know about Matt Bomer except that he did those Superman adverts in Japan and was once set to play the hero? Can he even act? Do we know this?
32 years old
Why: Topher Grace looks like what I imagine Peter Parker would resemble once he turned 30 and indeed Sam Raimi previously cast him as Parker’s darker mirror image as Eddie Brock (Venom) in his last Spider-Man movie. He’s an actor that has somewhat fallen off the radar since his turn as Venom and I imagine he’ll be circling for the part as a way back into the mainstream.
Why Not: The casting of Topher Grace would break my own personal superhero rule that simply states… no actor should portray two comic book characters in their careers. In Grace’s case it’s actually worse because he would have played two Marvel characters – both Matt Murdock and Eddie Brock.
Plus, Grace’s portrayal of Murdock I imagine would be too wholesome and he would struggle with the darker side of the character and perhaps he is too dweebish to really connect with audiences as Daredevil?
32 years old
Why: Josh Hartnett already has a strong relationship with director David Slade having worked together on his only comic lead role to date, 30 Days of Night, plus he has the look of Matt Murdock nailed down and has found a recent desire to do a comic book role, probably to revive a failing career. He recently auditioned for the Loki role in Marvel’s Thor but ultimately lost out to Tom Hiddleston. Hartnett, despite not being notable for at least six years, is a still somewhat a heart-throb with Jane Popcorn and probably still has some pulling power with a wider demographic who would boost box office numbers and could play the darker side of Murdock.
If David Slade is going down a Sin City-esque (a movie he was in let’s not forget) noir version of Daredevil, then Hartnett could do a good job for him.
Why Not: Has a CV a mile long of roles where his lack of charisma has let him down and literally bored audiences to death…
43 years old
Why: Two and a half years ago, Frank Miller suggested that if he was ever to get his hands on the Daredevil franchise - he would cast Brit’s answer to Bruce Willis – action hero Jason Statham immediately to play his version of Matt Murdock. Unsurprisingly if you’ve ever read one of his comics, Miller envisioned a growlier and more aggressive, take no prisoners Daredevil. Statham could certainly do the physical aspects of the character and would be an imposing figure, but wouldn’t he be more suited to playing Bullseye?
Why Not: His age is a huge disadvantage as he’s five years older than Ben Affleck!. Plus there’s his cockney English accent which just wouldn’t really work for the American superhero, plus the fact it would be difficult to imagine Statham as the lawyer Matt Murdock. He’s too much of a geezer…
James Badge Dale
32 years old
Why: Suggested by OWF’s Simon Gallagher during a ‘Daredevil contenders’ conversation we had last night, James Badge Dale is probably the least known name on this list but he enjoyed a high profile 2010 with major roles on the small screen in The Pacific and Rubicon. He’s certainly no longer just seen as the guy who killed DiCaprio in The Departed! He’s a talented actor who is just waiting for a big screen breakout to prove his worth.
Why Not: The problem with hiring Dale is that he has primarily been a t.v. actor leading many to believe he would be better suited to a t.v. series based on Daredevil rather than a big screen property. He certainly hasn’t got the star value, the screen presence or even the looks (as handsome as he is) to bring in the masses.
26 years old.
Why: We know Disney were keen, at least before Tron: Legacy opened, for 6″2 Garrett Hedlund to be a franchise star they were going to pin their hopes on and certainly there’s nothing he did in the original that discredited that notion. Add to that, Marvel wanted him for Captain America before his agent convinced him not to rush into too many comic book roles and he turned the part down. Plus he has the deep voice for it, which is a huge asset considering the character will be behind a mask for long periods of the film.
Plus someone’s already done a pretty cool artist rendering of what Hedlund would look like in the role…
Why Not: Hedlund’s only been acting for a few year so he has a pretty sparse CV to date, plus he already turned down Captain America, so who is to say he won’t do the same here?
So there’s our 8 Picks in the latest of our fantasy series. Will David Slade’s eventual choice come from this bunch? Maybe… though do let us know if you think there’s an actor we have forgotten that Fox should instead consider…
Previous entries in our Fantasy Casting series…
8 Actors Who Could Be Recruited For THE EXPENDABLES 2
8 Actresses Who Could Be LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER
Who Will Direct IRON MAN 3? (Shane Black was eventually hired, a name on our list!!)
How I would cast SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL (Henry Cavill hired as Superman, a name on our list!!)
8 Picks For Who Tom Hardy Might Play in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES! (Hardy chosen to play Bane, a character on our list!!)