The “geek world” can be mighty particular about its heroes, especially when it comes to how they’re treated on film and, more importantly, who plays them. In a surprise move at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, Man of Steel director Zack Snyder showed up unannounced at a Warner Brothers panel and declared that the sequel to this year’s hit Superman film would feature not just Supes, but also the Caped Crusader so near and dear to many a nerd’s heart:Batman. To make his announcement, a hired actor read lines from Frank Miller’s classic Batman story The Dark Knight Returns: “I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.” While many in the audience may not have recognized that line, those of us in the know rejoiced for we all remember these were the words spoken by Batman to Superman near the end of Miller’s tale after a grueling battle between the two heroes.
Wait, WHAT!!?? Batman fights SUPERMAN? And Batman WINS!!?? But, how? Why? It makes no sense!
To go into too much detail here would derail me from my actual topic which I still haven’t gotten to yet. It would also spoil The Dark Knight Returns for those of you who haven’t read it yet. And shame on you if you’re one of them. The books came out in 1986 for fuck’s sake… what are you waiting for? I’ll just say that the fact that Bats and Supes are at odds makes sense in the context of Miller’s story, as does the fact that Batman wins this particular brawl.
Snyder was quick to point out that the sequel to Man of Steel would not, in fact, be an adaptation of Miller’s work, but rather is the “tone” he wishes to convey in the next film. As a quick aside, if you do want to see a faithful adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, it was released as a two part direct to DVD and Blu Ray movie produced by Warner Brothers Animation. Produced by Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series), directed by Jay Oliva, and starring Peter Weller (yes, Robocop) as the voice of Batman and Michael Emerson (Lost) as the Joker, it is a fantastic piece of work and was described by Kevin Smith as “the best Batman movie you will ever see.” I have to agree.
Naturally, Snyder’s announcement raised more questions amongst comic book fans than it answered. If you’re going to have Batman battle Superman in a movie that will be, for all intents and purposes, Man of Steel 2, wouldn’t Supes HAVE to win that fight? It’s HIS movie, after all. If Superman does win that fight, won’t it piss of legions of DC Comics fans who know how that battle is supposed to end? And, perhaps most importantly, who is going to play Batman? Snyder also pointed out that the film would not be set in the Nolan-verse of the recent Batman trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises).
Ah! 50 words in, I’ve gotten to my point. Yesterday at least one of those questions was answered as it was announced to the world who would take up the mantle of the Bat in the Man of Steel sequel.
Yeah. No, that is not a typo.
Ben “Daredevil-Gigli-Reindeer Games-Paycheck-Jersey Girl” Affleck will play Bruce Wayne/Batman in the upcoming film, the release date of which was also announced as July 17, 2015.
The internet lost it’s collective shit the moment this was announced. Everyone seemed to forget that he is also Ben “Good Will Hunting-Argo-Dogma” Affleck and that the dude may in fact know a thing or two about acting and filmmaking and has been involved in a few good films too.
I learned of the announcement through my buddy Jason at work. He came over to my desk and said, “did you hear the horrendous news about who’s gonna play Batman?” or something to that effect. He may not have used the word “horrendous” but it was something like that. I shrugged because I’d not heard a thing. Jason’s always got his nose in some news site on his smart phone and he was delivering me this information less than an hour after it had been announced. “Ben Affleck,” he said with a smirk, fully expecting me, I think, to share in his distaste and disdain. “Can you believe that?” I shrugged. “I like Affleck,” I said. “Maybe he can pull it off.”
Jason doesn’t think so. He insisted that he doesn’t have anything against Affleck as an actor, just that he’s “wrong” for Batman. Then he started drawing comparisons to George Clooney.
Clooney played Bats in one film set in the “Burton-verse” of Batman, 1997’s Batman and Robin, one of the worst takes on the Batman mythos we’ve ever been subjected to. Clooney gets a lot of shit from the nerd world for his portrayal of Batman/Bruce Wayne, but I think he gets it unfairly. It’s not his fault that Batman and Robin is the suckiest suck to have ever sucked a suck, it’s mostly Joel Schumacher’s and Warner Brothers’. Oh, and Schwarzenegger’s.
What I mostly don’t get is the instant hatred that Jason and thousands of others have instantly for Affleck for no other reason than that he seems to have been offered and accepted this gig. In the weeks and months following Snyder’s Comic Con announcement numerous names seemed to have been kicked around as possibilities for Batman in the film. As they were all unconfirmed rumors, its hard to know whether any of them were actually in talks or being considered, but names that had been floating around included Ryan Gosling and Channing Tatum. Channing Tatum as Batman? Not in my America.
Still, for the sake of argument, let’s say that everyone involved with Man of Steel 2 had indeed lost their fucking minds and Tatum had been cast as the Batman. Would I pitch a bitch online about it? Probably. I’d be whining here right now like a little bitch with a skinned knee and shit. Would I boycott the film? Hells no. I want to see this movie regardless of who is in the bat suit and any fan of Batman should as well.
Yet many people are saying they’ll do exactly that. Amongst my own friends on facebook I’ve started seeing it. One friend posted in her status, “Well the decision to cast Ben Affleck has guaranteed that I will never watch those Batman movies. Horrible decision.” Really? Never? Another friend (a woman who likes pretty much every movie she sees, regardless of actual quality or content and who has more than once defended films like Super Mario Brothers (1993 Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo) and Street Fighter (1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme, Raul Julia) as “excellent”) posted “One of the biggest upsets ever, hearing that Ben Affleck is or maybe Batman. Worse casting ever.” Grammar is not many of my friends’ strong suits; I’m sure she meant “worst.” After seeing Jason continue his Ben-bashing on his own wall with, “Ben Affleck has been chosen as the next Batman…..all I heard was George Clooney rides again.” and his friends started with their “Oh hell noooooooooooooo” responses, I felt I had to speak up. I wound up using the same short rant on Jason’s post and a few Instagram posts with people complaining about the choice as well. It was as follows:
You know, Twitter, FB, and IG have been blowing up over this news since it was announced earlier. I’ve even seen people say they would boycott the movie over it. REALLY? Without even giving the guy a chance to see what he can do with the role? It’s not like this is just some guy. I don’t care if you didn’t like “Daredevil” (I didn’t either) or you don’t like Affleck in general, the guy CAN act and deserves as much of a shot as anyone else who may have been cast. What were some of the other names being thrown around? Ryan Gosling? Channing Tatum? Would you folks have preferred THAT world? In 1989 I was less than thrilled to learn that the 5’6″ Michael Keaton (Mr. Mom, for fuck’s sake) was cast as the Bat in Tim Burton’s take on the character. You know what? I survived it and so did Batman.
Anyway, I plan on seeing this film on July 17, 2015, regardless of who is playing Batman. Who’s with me?