As much as Marvel tries to recruit the biggest stars in the entertainment world, they sometimes come up with a miss. While they continue to recruit A-list actors for new or upcoming roles, they managed to lose out on bringing in Matt Damon.
Damon could have played Daredevil had things gone just right. Maybe he was fortunate in that he bowed out when some actors become so easily typecast.
Keep in mind this was Marvel’s 20th Century Fox version of Daredevil (starring Ben Affleck) before the MCU came into existence. What makes Damon turning down the role so interesting is it became a He Said/He Said situation–between him and Affleck–on who accepted the role first.
Daredevil was an important superhero for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
According to Damon when interviewed about the role in 2016, as reported by ABC News, Daredevil was the most liked by him and Affleck as kids. To them, Matt Murdock was the ultimate superhero in being a lawyer by day and vigilante superhero by night. The look of both Murdock and his alter ego is obviously cool when going by Murdock’s shades and the helmet for Daredevil. As young actors, playing Daredevil in a movie was likely a major dream.
When the opportunity came up, however, fate became more than a little ironic. Damon said in the aforementioned interview he was offered the role first. This apparently conflicts with Affleck’s story who said he was offered the role first, even if he ultimately regrets being so impetuous and how the role turned out.
Ben Affleck was reportedly more eager to win the role
It more or less turned into a competition between Affleck and Damon on who would win the role of Daredevil first. Damon swears by his assertion he had the script first, yet turned it down out of precaution. His official explanation for turning it down was because he was unfamiliar with the work of the director: Mark Steven Johnson, according to ScreenRant. It appears Damon had a sixth sense to not join a movie where the director might not be familiar with the material.
Sure enough, many critics thought the Daredevil movie was a needlessly boring story. Making this more complicated is Damon says Affleck wanted the role without even having to think about it. Said Damon about Affleck in the above ABC interview: “I didn’t love the script and I didn’t know the director … So, I just tried to divorce my emotion from [it]. Ben is more of an emotional guy, he was like, ‘Daredevil!’ He just went and did it”.
Ben Affleck is still unhappy it turned out so bad
In past interviews, Affleck said he was not too happy with Daredevil either, despite starring with his future (now ex) wife, Jennifer Garner. He went through a rough patch in his career during that period, something Damon notes himself.
Many people still ponder what Daredevil might have been like with Damon in the lead. Could he have done something to make it work, or was it just doomed from the start due to a bad script?
Everyone knows it finally found the right production team turning it into something worthwhile thanks to the 2015-2018 Netflix series. Even then, Marvel fans think that version was canceled too soon. In the meantime, Damon would probably never take on a superhero role now.
Most notably, it seems Damon has a better ability to pick his projects based on never really having a huge dry spell in his movie career. After 2003, he continued doing successful character acting parts and action movies with mostly critical acclaim. Maybe he never wants it known, though, he ironically did two uncredited cameos in Thor: Ragnarok and Deadpool 2.