Michael Keaton Disses Spider-Man’s Emotions, Saying “Batman Would Never Cry”

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Michael Keaton told a story on The Tonight Show about seeing a scene from one of Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man movies in a store while waiting for a clerk to repair his phone. During the scene that played while Keaton hung out in the store, Peter Parker cries — and Keaton took that opportunity to make a quip about that to the clerk.

I go, “Is he cryin’?” [laughter] The guy goes, “Yeah.” And I just wait a little bit — you’re gonna bleep this out — and I go, “Pussy.” [laughter] And I wait. And he kinda does this, he kinda looks at me and he’s locked in, and I go, “Batman’d never cry.”

Keaton assures everyone that the clerk never recognized him, throughout all of this — so this conversation comes off like a personal joke that Keaton has with himself, rather than him performing a tough guy role for the benefit of a fan. I might have a little more sympathy for this story if the clerk had recognized Keaton. I get how male actors (especially those who play iconic action-packed roles) might feel a need to perform a “tough guy” persona in order to please their fans. I also get how using sexist insults to put down another man for being too emotional (and therefore too feminine) is part of how masculine posturing works.

But the clerk didn’t recognize Keaton. This was just a joke that Keaton told to a stranger because he thought it would be a funny shared experience. He thought it was so funny that he didn’t want it to remain in that one store clerk’s memories. No, this one’s good enough for television! And he’s probably right — this is exactly the sort of tired, one-note joke that works within a talk show format. It makes Keaton look like the “tough guy” that he wants to come off as being — all at the expense of Andrew Garfield, who is presented as a counterpoint to Keaton’s super-tough manliness.

I think Keaton’s right that Batman wouldn’t cry. But that’s because Batman has deep-seated emotional issues. I don’t see why that’s something to strive towards — and even joking around about it only highlights the fact that this is considered to be not only normal, but ideal. “Not crying” is assumed to be endemic to masculinity itself. But that’s …. not actually funny. It’s quite sad. And I guess only Spider-Man would be able to understand that.

(via Comic Book Resources, featured image via Movie Pilot)

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Maddy Myers
Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).