Death of a Disabled Hero

Published: Jul 26, 2018

Skyscraper is a problematic film.

It doesn’t matter how well Dwayne Johnson plays a disabled character.

It doesn’t matter how well it’s written.

It sure as hell doesn’t matter how well it shows a disabled character being the hero of the story.

It still stars an able‐bodied actor pretending to be disabled.

Heroes represent our ideals—something we should strive to emulate. As a disabled person, how can a hero be someone I want to be if they’re always represented by a body I can never have?

The characters that actors play on screen may be fiction, but every actor has the power to bring that character to life for those who need it the most. Gal Gadot can visit a hospital as Wonder Woman and inspire young women and girls with her strength and determination. Chris Evans can grab his shield and grant a wish to meet The First Avenger. Chris Hemsworth can show the most vulnerable and frightened child they are worthy to lift the hammer.

Dwayne Johnson cannot role up his pants‐leg and comfort a child that just lost a leg to cancer. He can’t take a photo with them to show off their new matching prosthetics. He can’t bring that character to life in the way that matters the most.

But a disabled actor could.

Unfortunately, at least with Skyscraper, we'll never get that opportunity. Neither will the disabled actor who should have played that role.

Mr. Johnson should have graciously declined the role of Will Sawyer and offered it to an actor who is an actual amputee. But maybe that wasn’t an option. If he had declined the role, there’s a good chance this movie would have never been made and that Will Sawyer, disabled action hero, would have never been brought to life on the big screen.

And I’d be fine with that.

I would rather mourn the loss of a movie featuring a disabled hero played by an able‐bodied actor than have to mourn the loss of another disabled actor who will never get the chance to bring that hero to life.