Friday, August 23, 2013

The Inmates Have Taken Over Arkham Asylum

I'm sure everyone by now has heard that Ben Affleck will be Batman in the upcoming Superman-Batman DC movie/project/re-boot. And I'm sure everyone can guess how I feel about this. I'm not much of a Ben Affleck fan. Is it because I'm just a dumb goofy-looking guy from Indiana and Affleck is one of those left-wing beautiful people that is so beloved by the mainstream media? I"ll fully admit that has a lot to do with it. But when it comes to Batman, it's personal. Batman is my favorite all-time comic-book character. I feel as if I "know" Batman....and Ben Affleck ain't Batman. (Yes, I'm well aware that Affleck has already played a big-screen superhero....but in all honesty, does anybody other than Jennifer Garner care about DAREDEVIL?)

Apparently a fair number of people on the internet feel the same way I do. So why would Warner/DC cast Affleck in the first place? In my opinion, I think there's a few factors involved. So let's look at each of the relevant factors one-by-one:

1. The ARGO factor

One reason for picking Affleck may be is that he is now considered a "respectable" film maker, due to his involvement with the Best Picture Oscar winning ARGO. The problem with this is that we live in a sound-bite society, and Oscar buzz doesn't have much of a shelf life. Remember the guy who starred in THE ARTIST? Have you heard anything about him lately?

Of course I realize that Affleck is a lot more famous that the guy from THE ARTIST. But, what we should really be asking is...what does ARGO have to do with Batman? Okay, Affleck may now be at the supposed top of the "A" list....but how does that qualify him to play Bruce Wayne?

One of the things I kept reading on the internet last night from Ben's defenders is that "ARGO proved he's a major talent, so he should get this chance, etc." But, once again, what does that have to do with Batman? Martin Scorsese directed a Best Picture winner. So did James Cameron. Should they be allowed to play Batman?

This idea that Affleck now "deserves" to play the Caped Crusader because he's a supposed big thing now shows how much the film industry is beholden to comic books. It used to be that if you directed a film that won the Best Picture Oscar, you'd get a chance to adapt a great novel, or a famous play, or you would be able to make your dream project. Now it gives you a chance to be cinematic superhero. The geeks really have conquered the world.

2. The "This isn't Christopher Nolan's world anymore" factor

One of the big questions surrounding the cinematic future of Batman was whether the next film would be set in the Christopher Nolan/Dark Knight "universe". With the casting of Affleck, it seems that everything connected to the Dark Knight movie trilogy is going to be left out. I've mentioned before that I've had certain reservations about Nolan's take on the character ( I'm certainly not going to start crying if this is a Nolan-free Batman. But...if you have a new take on Batman, that means he has to have a whole new world for himself, and a new Gordon, a new Alfred, a new other words, a new origin story. I'm sick and tired of origin stories--I've seen so many of them in the past few years. It also means the new Batman will have to be "introduced" to the audience...and that means a major portion of the next movie will probably be devoted to this, instead of  more important things like a well-written plot. It would be nice if a movie just let Batman be Batman....but if Affleck is going to play the character, that means he'll have to be "explained"...and to me that's just going to be a waste of time.

3 The "It's so crazy, it just might work!" or "The Robert Downey Jr." factor

The other common point that I've heard Affleck defenders mention is that his casting is so out of left field, it just might surprise everybody and be successful. These people also are bringing up Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of Iron Man--"Nobody thought that would work, and see how that turned out?"

I'll be the first to admit that when I originally heard that Robert Downey was going to play Tony Stark, I assumed it was a joke. That bit of off-beat casting did work. But let's face it, Iron Man is not Batman. There are millions of folks who have never read a comic book in their lives that will have strong emotions on who should play Batman in a movie. Batman is more than just a comic book superhero...he's an authentic American legend. Because of that, I really don't think ANY actor of today can do the Batman justice. But I think there's got to be a lot better choices than Ben Affleck.

The character of the Batman is far more legendary than any actor that winds up playing him. The Batman will survive Ben Affleck....but why even go there in the first place?

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