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Daredevil Movie Kingpin Michael Clarke Duncan

Daredevil Movie Director Admits Backlash On Kingpin Casting

Did you know that a live-action Daredevil Movie exists? Daredevil is enjoying its 20th anniversary this year! That’s right, Daredevil had it’s opening way back in 2003 to great fanfare. You are forgiven if you never heard of it but it seems the movie is a hot topic. The movie stars Ben Affleck as the lead character Matt Murdock AKA Daredevil. The movie also stars Jennifer Garner as Elektra, Colin Farrell as Bullseye, and Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk AKA The Kingpin. Director Steven Johnson is sitting down with Yahoo Entertainment to reflect on the movie and talk about his experience making Daredevil.

I like the interview because the director seems to be pretty open to discussing his regrets. Daredevil did ‘ok’ at the box office and went on to generate a spinoff movie for Elektra actress Jennifer Garner. The director mentions  regrets and challenges from making the movie and one of the comments is a bit… well, you tell me:

You cast the late Michael Clarke Duncan as the movie’s other villain, the Kingpin, who has traditionally been depicted as white in the comics. That kind of color blind casting is more common now, but ahead of the curve then. Did you get any blowback from comic fans?

Oh yeah, I got a lot of blowback. It’s the strangest Catch-22, because you want to have opportunities for everybody. You say, “I’m not going to pay attention to race: I’m just going to cast the right person for the role.” But then you get killed for that [from some fans] who say: “The Kingpin should be white” or “He’s not my Kingpin” and all that kind of stuff. So I definitely got heat on that, but I don’t regret the decision at all. Michael was fantastic. It’s hard to find a guy who is that big and also that formidable, and Michael was definitely that guy. God bless him.

Were you sorry that casting tradition didn’t continue with Netflix’s Daredevil series that’s now coming to Disney+?

Not at all. I think Vincent D’Onofrio is wonderful as the Kingpin. It’s all about finding the right actor for the character, you know? Vincent is a great Kingpin and Michael was a great Kingpin. And the show is terrific. It’s fun, because everybody gets to have their imprint on it: You don’t own the character, you just get to be the steward for a short time and then pass it on for someone else to do something with it. That’s why it was so fun to see all the different Spider-Men come together in the last Spider-Man movie. Seeing all those different versions from different decades and different filmmakers coming together was such an exciting moment.

Kudos to Steven Johnson for his casting choices. I don’t find it surprising at all that he got blowback and that sort of casting would get a strong reaction today. There’s a very large audience who does not like race-swapping of characters and there are some that don’t mind.

I think Michael Clarke Duncan did a fantastic job as The Kingpin. I remember being really excited about his casting, especially after his string of hits like The Green Mile. Sadly the actor didn’t get to reprise his role for a sequel so that one film will remain his only outing as The Kingpin.

I get apprehensive to talk race-swapping in these sorts of roles. I think it can work at times but I also have seen it backfire badly. Have you seen the original Daredevil? What do you think of MCD’s portrayal and what do you think about this topic?

That’s all for this one…

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