When it comes to producing movie stars, Boston must have a secret formula in its dirty water. But which of the city’s locally-bred badasses—and the big-screen characters they play—takes the action hero crown? With a trio of franchise films set to hit theaters over the next few months, we decided to put Boston’s best to the test.
Note: In order to qualify, a Boston-bred actor must have a leading role as an action hero that’s part of a franchise, with a film in the franchise coming out in 2016. Sorry, Wahlberg.
1. Ben Affleck’s Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (out March 25). It’s been 13 years since Ben Affleck first stepped into a spandex outfit on the big screen. Now, the Cambridge native probably hopes his new superhero movie fares better than 2003’s Daredevil.
2. Chris Evans’s Captain America in Captain America: Civil War (out May 6). The Sudbury actor is less than two months away from his fifth appearance on the silver screen as Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America.
3. Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne in Jason Bourne (out July 29). While Matt Damon hasn’t worn anything nearly as form-fitting as Affleck and Evans, Damon seems to think his Jason Bourne can take Affleck’s Batman (though Affleck begs to differ).
So which of these dauntless men will win the title of Boston’s leading franchise action hero? We pit these three actors and their titular roles against each other via a bunch of different superlatives.
It’s 2016 and #squadgoals are the greatest of all goals. We’ll start by ruling out Bourne: Occasional interlopers aside, he’s largely a lone wolf. In Batman v Superman, Batman’s squad consists of — for now — Superman and Wonder Woman, though it’s undoubtedly going to expand into the glorified superhero team known as the Justice League. However, Captain America’s squad of Avengers—including Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Black Widow— is already thriving and two movies deep into its own franchise.
Winner: Captain America. Batman’s posse has to actually prosper before we can judge.
Batman’s got the Batmobile, the Bat Signal, the Batplane — pretty much anything that begins with the prefix Bat-. Batfleck’s also got a few other nifty gadgets in the newest film, including a portable device that clones telephones and Kryptonite tear gas canisters to ward off the Man of Steel. Meanwhile, Captain America has his shield, his shield, and let’s not forget his shield. Jason Bourne has … his money, his passports, and his many identities.
Winner: Batman. Batman’s only real superpower is his stash of sweet gadgets. He easily wins this round.
Bourne gets major (nonexistent, completely arbitrary) points for the old-school Mini Cooper he drives in The Bourne Identity—avoiding your enemies without the help of a billionaire budget or unlimited government largesse has to count for something. Captain America’s custom Harley is nice to look at, but in the end, the Batmobile has to win. It’s the crown jewel of Batman’s arsenal of high-tech gadgets, and it gets the job done in Batman v Superman, bursting through brick walls, avoiding missiles, and generally wreaking havoc.
Winner: Batman. There’s only one Batmobile.
Best Unnecessary Display of Strength
Let’s face it: No matter how strong Jason Bourne looks in his strongest moment, he’s no superhero. Batman v Superman has an entire montage dedicated to Wayne getting real beefy in his underground man cave where he’s lifting nonsensical amounts of weights, tires, and heavy chains. But then there’s Captain America, who brandishes his supernatural brawniness by ripping apart a log out of pure angst.
Winner: Captain America. Because Batman’s a show-off.
Though Captain America did his fair share of low-profile snooping in The Winter Soldier, he is typically pretty noticeable, if not for his all-American good looks, then for his struggles adjusting to contemporary life. For all his furtiveness in previous films, the Bruce Wayne/Batman of Batman v Superman is not very subtle. Wayne is immediately called out as he attempts to steal information from LexCorp computers, and instead of ambushing enemies, Batman turns on the Bat Signal, a brazen “come at me, bro” challenge to Superman. As a CIA agent, Bourne’s strength is his ability to blend in, allowing him to disappear around corners and into crowds at will.
Winner: Bourne. You probably couldn’t pick him out of a lineup, which, in this case, is a good thing.
Ben Affleck’s Batman doesn’t have a Robin, depriving him of his natural sidekick. (Note to film executives: Please give Matt Damon’s agent a call.) Could we call Nicky, aka Julia Stiles, Jason Bourne’s sidekick? Maybe. Or is she a love interest? A heroine in and of herself? Her role varies movie to movie, like his squad, so we’re subtracting points for inconsistency. Captain America has a sizeable squad, but it’s unclear that he has any one person he can call his partner in crime, the Bonnie to his Clyde.
Winner: Batman. An Affleck-Damon Batman and Robin movie hasn’t materialized, but Christopher Nolan’s Batman series makes clear that the Caped Crusader’s real sidekick is Alfred. Zack Snyder continues that trend, with Jeremy Irons giving Michael Caine a real run for his money as the Wayne family butler in Batman v Superman.
Best Cheesy One-Liner
–“This is where it started for me. This is where it ends.” — Jason Bourne, The Bourne Ultimatum
–“There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.” — Captain America, The Avengers
–“Do you bleed? You will.” — Batman, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Winner: Captain America. The lengthy pause between “Do you bleed?” and “You will!” in Batman’s quip feels like it was scripted by a sitcom writer leaving space for a laugh track, while Bourne’s pedestrian “This is where it ends” is indistinguishable from any other action movie protagonist. Captain America’s earnestly cheesy one-liner, on the other hand, fits his stilted 1940s talking style perfectly.
Most Creative Weapon
Captain America’s weapon use is typically limited to whether he should throw his shield at someone or hit him or her with it. On the other hand, Batman’s options run the gamut. Along with his typical array of Batarangs, grappling hooks, and tear gas canisters, Batman has an extra-special weapon in the newest movie designed specifically to fight Superman. *SPOILER ALERT* While the Bat gets points for welding the weapon himself in a gritty montage, in the end, the weapon is just a spear with a sharp piece of kryptonite on one end. Bourne, on the other hand, single-handedly fights off a knife-wielding bad guy with a pen, proving that the most innovative solutions are often borne out of necessity (geddit?).
Winner: Bourne. As the saying goes, the pen is mightier than the kryptonite spear.
Jason Bourne’s usual getup is the all black trench coat and slacks look, which would be boring even if we weren’t comparing him to two superheroes. While Batfleck’s Batman suit has a couple of different versions in Batman v Superman — one that’s more of a classic Batman, and one that’s big, clunky, and made of armor — viewers can appreciate the consistency of Captain America’s spandex suit that’s both patriotic and practical.
Winner: Captain America. Batman’s armor suit is unnecessarily bulky. We docked him points for lack of stealth.
Batman hardly leaves Gotham. He’s obsessed with Gotham. So the billionaire playboy is the least cultured of them all. Captain America fights the worst villains of the universe, but has he really explored the globe while he’s zipping around in the helicarrier from one shattered place to the next? Probably not. But you know who has? Jason Bourne. He takes globetrotting to impressive levels by stealing cars and making slick getaways to Paris, India, and Naples with his dozens of passports.
Winner: Bourne. He’s seen the world.
Swiping four of the 10 superlatives here, the winner of the Boston action hero battle is Chris Evans’s Captain America. After all, who can really beat a leading man whose character is a part of two franchises that are incredibly successful and still flourishing? That said, with Affleck set to put on the cape once more in 2017’s Justice League, and with the newest Bourne film hitting theaters this July, this showdown may need a sequel.