20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
With X-Men: Days of Future Past currently at the top of the box office and DC steadily teasing more and more about their upcoming superhero showdown, Marvel decided to keep itself in the news by throwing a new name into the ring: Charlie Cox. The Boardwalk Empire star is set to play Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil in the upcoming Netflix miniseries. Daredevil is the first of four heroes who will be receiving the small-screen treatment, with Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist set to follow. Fans of the character have high expectations for the series, as the last time the Scarlet Swashbuckler appeared on-screen, he was played by Ben Affleck in the disastrous 2003 movie.
No matter what Cox does with the character, he will inevitably be compared to Affleck, whose performance has become something of a punchline amongst comic book fans. While there are a lot of things wrong with the Daredevil movie — terrible lighting, awkward editing, a script full of plot holes, a soundtrack full of Evanescence — nothing seems to inspire the kind of ire that Affleck’s take on Matt Murdock has. A decade later, both Affleck and the film have their defenders, but whether you believe that Daredevil is an underrated classic or best forgotten completely, Cox has some big shows to fill, and a lot of wrongs to make right. Wrongs like:
Playing a Blind Character Appropriately
Matt Murdock’s blindness is an integral part of the character, and while the Daredevil movie did give it the import that it deserves, all of the torment, pain and difficulty that Matt dealt with as part of his life-changing injury were forgotten the second that Affleck took off his glasses, thanks to Affleck’s blank, cross-eyed stare. Maybe it was the contacts, maybe it was the way he awkwardly held eye contact with whomever he was sharing the scene with, but either way, it was simultaneously hilarious and uncomfortable. We’ve got to believe Cox will do a better job, if only because it’s impossible to do worse than Affleck.
Being Too Brooding
Like most superheroes, Daredevil has a lot to be upset about: he was blinded as a child, his father was murdered, his girlfriend might be trying to kill him, and there’s some weird Catholic guilt stuff he’s dealing with. But unlike Batman, Daredevil is able to see the brighter side of things, and balances out his brooding side with some wise-cracks and charm. Affleck played up the dark, serious moments to the detriment of his charisma, resulting in a boring, overly-somber superhero. Cox, however, knows how to play up the charm, winning over both Claire Danes and Robert De Niro in Stardust — and that takes a lot of personality.
Not Brooding Enough
Yes, you read that correctly. Affleck’s turn as Daredevil somehow managed to be too cocky and too serious in equal measure, instead of finding the right balance of the two. When he wasn’t skulking about sadly, Affleck was swanning about with an obnoxious smirk on his face, trading terribly-written quips with the supporting cast. Cox’s biggest challenge will be finding a way to get across the character’s joking nature as well as giving the right amount of gravitas to his angstier moments, or he, like Affleck, will somehow manage to upset both sides of the fandom.
Lacking Inner Turmoil
One of the biggest things that Matt struggles with is the idea of doing the right thing. He’s an earnest, well-meaning guy, who only took up his vigilante hobbies in order to ensure that good people got the justice they deserve. While the script for Daredevil referenced that inner struggle, it was never really evident in Affleck’s performance that it was something the character was really wrestling with. Cox has played his fair share of complicated characters, so he should be better equipped to hint at some of the conflicted feelings that Matt has about what he’s doing. Or, you know, any feelings at all.
That Awkward Murdering-People Thing
Like Superman before him, Daredevil has issues with brutally killing people just because they’re bad guys. It has to do with all that Catholic guilt we mentioned earlier. However, in the first few minutes of the film, Affleck’s throwing people in the path of a moving train, while Daredevil believes that violence is a last resort. While Cox has proven himself to be menacing and murderous, he’s going to need to tone that down a bit in order to really bring Matt Murdock to life. Less strangling, more courtroom jargon.
Pulling Off Ridiculous Costumes
With the exception of George Clooney’s Batman, no hero has a more universally reviled costume than Affleck’s Daredevil. Both too baggy and too tight and made of obnoxiously shiny read leather, it truly is the kind of costume only a blind person would design, and Affleck never looked comfortable in it. If you’re forced to wear a ridiculous costume, you might as well commit to it, like Cox did with all of the ruffs and feathered hair he had to sport in Stardust. Embrace the absurdity, and it will embrace you right back.
And if all else fails, both Cox and Daredevil fans can take comfort in the fact that the fight scenes will be better choreographed than this: