Happy Foggy Nelson day! Listen, as this usually topical column is, in some ways, a weekly check-in on what’s going on in my head, I gotta tell ya — the last 24 hours have been pretty awesome for me. Thanks to last night’s “Agent Carter” and today’s “Daredevil” trailer, I’ve seen live-action versions of two of IN YOUR FACE JAM’s top three hottest fictional comic dudes. It’s been a very Dum Dum Dugan and Foggy Nelson filled week so far, and that’s awesome — just like that “Daredevil” teaser trailer.
I don’t talk about it much outside of constantly droning on about Foggy, but I really like Daredevil. Outside of the X-Men, he’s easily one of my fave superheroes, so I have very high expectations for this Netflix series. I freaked out just a bit back when I got to see scenes from the series during the “Daredevil” panel at New York Comic Con. This series looked way more “House of Cards” than “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” — and I’m so glad that that comes across in the trailer. This “Daredevil” looks way more cinematic than the previous feature film. It’s also way more mature, which is saying something considering that the 2003 film tried with all its might to be a very specific, Evanescence and Nickelback-tinged type of mature.
I’m so incredibly on board with “Daredevil,” except for one thing: Matt Murdock doesn’t have a hairy chest. Yep, remember how I’m the guy that thought way too much about the implications of He-Man wearing pants? Well, here we go again.
Because I’m a human person with access to Google, it should not surprise you that I did look up shirtless pictures of Charlie Cox at some point after he was cast as Daredevil. He’s handsome! I have no shame here, because odds are if you fancy men, you did it too! And unlike covers for ’90s issues of “Captain Planet,” it is easy to find a decent shot of Mr. Cox sans shirt. These search results let me know that his chest naturally rocks some Burt Reynolds realness.
So yeah, a hairy-chested Daredevil? Sounds great to me! It would make for a solid change of pace considering how so many of Marvel’s men — and nearly every man in every film and TV show — has a totally smooth torso when the time comes to take it all off. Between Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Winter Soldier, the men of Marvel are as smooth as the “Magic Mike” cast — and now we can add Daredevil to that stack of… beefcakes? That sentence got away from me, but my point stands: just like the naturally hirsute but patriotically-waxed Chris Evans, Cox had to shave his chest. Why?
As a guy with a hairy chest, I feel like looking at all these baby smooth men on film and TV has given me the tiniest inkling of what women have experienced for the past forever — if only in this one area. It’s annoying to have Hollywood set this arbitrary and puzzling standard of beauty and not meet it, not want to meet it and therefore never see myself reflected onscreen. We’ve been telling women the same thing — on a much grander scale — ever since motion pictures were invented; honestly, if this out-of-nowhere trend of hair-shaming men came packaged with a newfound freedom for women to do whatever the F they want with their bodies and the hair it grows, it’d seem like an even trade. Instead, no one on film can have any hair below their neck, period. Again, why?
I know I’ve written almost 650 words about this now, but I want to stress that I’m totally aware that this in no way affects “Daredevil’s” quality and that there are very real, much larger problems that need addressing, well, everywhere. I’m doing this to point out that diversity comes in many diverse forms — not just racial and gender ones. Body type, background, age, height — I can keep on going. I actually saw some Tumblr users upset about the new all-female “Ghostbusters” cast — and not because it featured all women, but because it featured three white women and one black one. Yes, that is a very valid point, but focusing on one way the new “Ghostbusters” cast isn’t diverse over the number of ways it is diverse seems shortsighted. When you take into account that films continually cast thin, straight, white women under the age of 30 in every role, the cast is ridiculously diverse. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones are all over 40; Kate McKinnon is a lesbian; McCarthy and Jones have plus-sized figures and Jones is six-feet tall. No, they’re not that diverse in one way, but they are diverse in a number of other ways. I just want to see that in the Marvel men, and I want to be able to see myself in them too. Oh, uh, I’m talking about in appearance. Geez, I let that sentence get away from me too.
People like seeing themselves reflected back at them. This desire for relatability is why we can all name at least one celebrity we share a birthday with (Sylvester Stallone) or one famous person from our home state (Justin Timberlake). This is why during my year as a page at “The Late Show with David Letterman,” I had to tell every audience member to not let out a big “woo” anytime someone mentioned their alma mater or hometown. This is why I feel an immediate kinship with short guys. When I see Charlie Day unleashing physical comedy whirlwinds on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” I kinda see myself doing it too; Martin Freeman is a prematurely gray-haired man that’s 5’6″ tall just like me and I love him for it. I can fully acknowledge how illogical these little things are, but it’s all lizard brain stuff. It can’t be denied, and it’s annoying to have it denied in small ways over and over again. A hairy Daredevil wouldn’t have been Earth-shaking, but it at least would have been different. Knowing how Cox naturally looks only makes this development the more deflating.
Our superheroes should not be held to the same singular standard of beauty. Maybe there’s an in-universe reason why most of Marvel’s heroes are hairless. Maybe Daredevil’s radar sense is driven to the edge by the sound of hair rubbing against a tight costume (and now I’ve written the first line of “50 Shades of Daredevil”). I just know that after the tragedy that befell Charlie Cox’s chest, Mark Ruffalo has to carry the hirsute torch for a while longer. But I mean, he can handle it. Just look at him.
Brett White is a comedian living in New York City. He makes videos for the Upright Citizens Brigade as a member of UCB1 and writes for the sketch comedy podcast Left Handed Radio. His opinions can be consumed in bite-sized morsels on Twitter (@brettwhite).
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