Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis talk in an Armageddon movie still
(Touchstone Pictures)

Was Ben Affleck Right About ‘Armageddon’?

It’s been 26 years since Armageddon was unleashed unto the world, and obviously, there are questions from this movie that keep me up at night.

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First, why is Liv Tyler’s dad, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, always played over her love scenes with Ben Affleck? Isn’t that, you know, a bit weird?

Second, why is it some weirdo keeps putting monoliths in deserted places in America, yet no one has ever thought to put bronze busts of Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) in places of national importance in this country? Surely that would be funnier and weirder than what they’re doing now, right? Plus, we should all pay homage to the salt of the earth man who gave his (fictional) life so that we all could live.

Third, did this movie really casually throw out the term “space dementia” as if it was a thing we all know and could potentially suffer from, as a major plot point just so they could have Steve Buscemi’s character go off the rails? (I did Google this so you don’t have to, and it’s not a thing … yet.)

We could be here all day pondering the questions this film makes us think about, but we’re here today for a very specific one: Was Ben Affleck right?

Well, let’s narrow that down a little: Was Ben Affleck right in his DVD commentary that it would be better for humanity’s survival for astronauts to be drillers, than drillers to be astronauts? As a refresher, here’s his commentary:

Here’s his full, extremely sarcastic commentary:

I asked Michael why it was easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts than it was to train astronauts to become oil drillers and he told me to shut the fuck up. So that was the end of that talk. [Michael Bay voice] “You know, Ben, just shut up, OK? You know, this is a real plan, alright?” I was like, “You mean it’s a real plan at NASA to train oil drillers?” and he was like, “Just shut your mouth!”

See, here’s where we demonstrate that, because Bruce is gonna tell the guys that they did a bad job of building the drill tank. See, he’s a salt-of-the-earth guy and the NASA NERDONAUTS don’t understand, uh, his salt-of-the-earth ways, his rough-and-tumble ways. [Laughing] Like somehow they can build ROCKET SHIPS but don’t understand what makes a good [transmission]. Eight whole months? As if that’s not enough time to learn how to drill a hole, but in a week we’re gonna learn how to be astronauts? [Bruce Willis voice] “Oh one whole week? Now you know how to fly into space? I need my guys.” Why do you need ’em? “They’re the best.” Everyone’s the best. Why are they the best? “I don’t know, they just are.”

On the one hand, if we did it Affleck’s way, the movie would probably be an hour shorter and less interesting. On the other hand, it is quite the logic stretch to believe a bunch of oil rig drillers could be ready to go to space in a week and perform optimally. (Perhaps that’s the point of the whole space dementia thing. Did we just discover Armageddon has layers!?)

Can you imagine getting all the way to the production of this film, and your second-billed star points out the massive logic gap of the central tenet of your massive blockbuster movie? How would you react? I’m pretty sure I’d tell him to shut up, too, then go home, and spend all night coming up with multiple reasons why drillers make the most sense to send into space, even if in my heart I knew it to be a lie.

Not to get distracted by the funny, snarky commentary, because it is glorious, but we need to spend a little time on the claim from director Michael Bay, via Affleck, that this is a “real” NASA plan to train oil drillers and send them into space. I would love to riff on this, but historically, space programs sent a lot of wacky living creatures into space: dogs, primates, mice, frogs. So the real question here is: When was this the plan? Are we talking about the ‘nineties’90s, when the movie came out, or maybe the ’50s, when everything was hypothetical and sending drillers into space was seen as “science”? Huge difference there.

Ultimately, though, perhaps it doesn’t matter if Affleck is right (although, for my money, he is) because perhaps the real question we all should be asking ourselves is: Why don’t they make stand-alone summer blockbusters independent of franchises, where a lot of things get blown up before the day is saved, anymore? They’re awesome! Without those, it doesn’t matter if we are astronauts who can drill, or drillers who can astronaut (yes, it’s a verb now) because neither story is told. Nor can it be rehashed on the DVD commentary because those aren’t a thing anymore, either. Alas, that is a lament for another time. Until then, I will sit here waiting, pondering myriad questions that Armageddon poses but never answers.

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Image of Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson (no, not that one) has been writing about pop culture and reality TV in particular for six years, and is a Contributing Writer at The Mary Sue. With a deep and unwavering love of Twilight and Con Air, she absolutely understands her taste in pop culture is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. She is the co-host of the popular Bravo trivia podcast Bravo Replay, and her favorite Bravolebrity is Kate Chastain, and not because they have the same first name, but it helps.