Once Again: Take a Deep Breath Batman Fans
You may or may not know this about me, but I am a gigantic Batman fan. It started way back in 2008 when I first saw The Dark Knight at a midnight screening. To this day, I’ve never been blown away by a movie in a similar fashion. At the time, I had no idea how much a movie could truly impact me. Some things were silly, like continuing to watch the TDK every July 18th (the anniversary of its release) or writing literary critique papers on the Joker in one of my college courses. Others weren’t so silly, like the foundation for my love of movies.
When The Dark Knight Rises was announced, and during its drawn-out anticipation, I grew cataclysmically excited. But with the excitement came an impeding dread: what if TDKR sucked? If it was disappointing, would it discount TDK? What about my love for Batman?
Luckily, I loved it. It’s nowhere near TDK, but is that even fair to expect? It might not even be one of Christopher Nolan’s best films. Again, is that even fair?
Why am I bringing this up? By now you’ve probably heard that Batman will be returning to screen in 2015 to face-off against/battle Superman (Henry Cavill) in the Man of Steel sequel. Eventually, the new Batman will get his own standalone film, but most importantly: the Justice League movie will finally move forward (presumably in 2017).
You’ve also probably heard that Ben Affleck was announced as the new Batman late last week. To say the outcry was loud would be an understatement. Comment sections and fan forums were set ablaze, angry editorials popped up in all corners of the Internet, and Twitter almost broke. It was hysteria (personally, this is my favorite way of describing Batfans).
So, as a true Batman fan, I’m here to give my little editorial on the shocking news (even if I’m a little late to the party). Unlike the majority of posts, I will exert some, admittedly cautious, optimism. I am still very skeptical, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet.
It might not seem smart to start with Affleck’s resume. Let’s please just disregard Daredevil. That was ten long years ago, and Affleck has undoubtedly matured since then. Some of his best work (Good Will Hunting) was before Daredevil, but we shouldn’t discount his performances later in Hollywoodland, The Town, and Argo (although I thought he was kind of bland here). The fact of the matter is, he’s a two-time Oscar winner (more on this later).
Really, we could discount the Oscars altogether, couldn’t we? Who, in their right mind, thinks any superhero will win an Oscar? Sure, having one on your resume “proves” you’re a good actor, but it’s not even close to a prerequisite for the job. Christian Bale does have an Oscar (and it happened after he first became Batman), while Robert Downey, Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and Jeremy Renner have at least been nominated. Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and Henry Cavill can’t say the same.
Still, I think the Oscar talk is a tad overrated. The actor doesn’t mean a whole lot without a story (Sabienna would agree).
If you had to rank performance vs. character, what would be more important? On the one hand, a crappy performance is really hard to ignore. However, good performances don’t come with a bland character/story. In other words, it doesn’t matter who puts on the cape and cowl if the story stinks. Therefore, instead of jumping to a hasty conclusion about Affleck, maybe we should be worried about how they’re going work out the narrative. That is a much bigger concern for me.
If we take a look at casting historically, there’s even more room for optimism. Remember when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker? According to one poll, 84% of the feedback was at least somewhat negative. One writer called the choice “foolish,” which he’d undoubtedly take back if he had the chance. A similar situation (although not as extreme) occurred when Anne Hathaway was announced as Catwoman. She didn’t go on to have a legendary performance, but her inclusion in TDKR was one of the better parts of the movie in my opinion. For more examples, check out Caroline’s five controversial casting choices that all turned out just fine. No matter what, it’s very unfair to already discount Affleck.
Moving on, Affleck fits the mold of what they’re looking for in the Man of Steel sequel. Rumors started circulating early that Snyder and company were looking for an older Batman. Names like Josh Brolin (45), Jon Hamm (42), and Joe Manganiello (36) seemed to fit a little better than Ryan Gosling (32), another popular choice. At 41 (just a few weeks ago), Affleck fits the age pretty well, especially when you look at how fit he can still get.
Finally, I can actually say I’m excited (not optimistic) for Affleck to become Bruce Wayne/Batman if this means he’ll take over the directing reigns. He was reportedly offered the director’s chair for the Justice League movie. Now that he’s actively involved in the franchise, the chances of him directing skyrocket. With three movies under his belt, it’s hard to make a case against him. His first two movies were too “genre-y” to make a huge awards splash, but he finally broke through with the Best Picture winner Argo. I’m not saying Justice League has a chance to win a Best Picture, but I am saying Batman and DC fans should want an Oscar-winner at the helm. I know I just spent a lot of time discounting the Oscars, but I can’t think of any realistic directors better than Affleck to take over the DC cinematic universe.
This is undoubtedly a touchy subject, so I am interested in other reactions. What are your thoughts on Ben Affleck as the new Caped Crusader?
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