Aug 30 2013
At the very least, fanboys owe Miley Cyrus and her bizarre VMA sex act a debt of gratitude for taking all of the attention away from the airing of our dirty laundry – the virtual tantrum we threw at the mention that Ben Affleck (or ‘Bud Abbott’ to Matt Damon’s ‘Lou Costello’ act) would be donning the cape and cowl in 2015’s SUPERMAN VS. BATMAN. I felt the pain, too, especially at my ripe old age and – as I’ve constantly confessed – given the fact that I’m clearly one of cyberspace’s oldest Batman and Superman fans.
Was I surprised?
‘Dumbfounded’ was more like it.
Did I take to the web to declare my grievances right away as did so many?
No. I have better things to do on a weekend.
Am I pleased that Affleck will be wearing the mask?
You know what? I could actually care less.
Even moreso, I think all of us should care less, and, if you’ll indulge me, let me tell you why.
It Could Be Worse
First off – and I do mean every word of this – there are far worse choices than Ben Affleck.
For starters, how about his buddy, Matt ‘Sourpuss’ Damon? Seriously, the only thing bigger than that man’s scowl is his ego! Or, hey, how about Jason ‘ApplePie’ Biggs? Pauly Shore? Or Democratic strategist and Mr. Haney lookalike James Carville? Minimally, Affleck has the basic features Bruce Wayne might have – two eyes, two ears, a mouth – and, once everything is buried under the heavily padded suit, does it really matter? I’m the first to admit that, no, I don’t think Affleck has the greatest acting chops in the world; I get that he’s essentially a graduate of the George Clooney Institute for Limited-Range Male Thespians, but, on the upside, so far as I know he’s never assaulted his family members like Christian Bale did. And don’t try to hit me with that “Have you never seen Argo?” crap, either, because yes, I’ve seen it, and, no, I didn’t see any range there, either.
Stranger Things Have Happened
Back in the late 80’s, fandom similarly exploded when Tim Burton announced that he cast Beetlejuice regular Michael Keaton to play the billionaire-turned-superhero.
Cries of “what was he thinking?” immediately went up, much like what went down electronically this past weekend. Despite Keaton’s presence, 1989’s Batman wasn’t half bad. Sure, it was ham-handed by that God awful Prince soundtrack collaboration. Yes, it tried a bit too hard to elicit some of the obvious Frank Miller influences of the time. Still, a lot of it worked quite well as Burton fashioned a respectable gothic nightmare out of Gotham City’s landscape, and then he populated it with the only denizens who would ever think about living there. Burton’s greatest misstep – so far as this critic is concerned – was killing the Joker in his first theatrical outing ‘cause everybody knows no one can ever truly kill the Joker.
“The play’s the thing.”
Billy Shakespeare said it best: “the play’s the thing.”
Films are the ultimate artistic collaboration. Hundreds if not thousands of hands fashion it into what it is. Outside of the obvious cast and crew, there are far more less obvious contributions made by only the best craftsmen money can buy. While I’m no fan of Christopher Nolan’s short-attention-span narratives, I respect the guy enough because he’s managed to eek out some quality from every critical decision he’s made. Could Affleck be his Achilles’ Heel? Meh, I doubt that. But as I’ve often said, I tend to dismiss so much attention given to projects with casting announcements because they honestly mean so little when measured against ‘the play’ that’s yet to be written. How will ‘the play’ come together? Well, it’s too far off for me to really be all that concerned about it at this point.
What I’m trying to say is that “I don’t know the story of the SUPERMAN VS. BATMAN film.” When will it take place? Who’ll be the villain? (Yes, I’ve heard about the Bryan Cranston rumors.) What will its developments be? How do I know Ben Affleck isn’t exactly what Zack Snyder will need for it? While I can understand and appreciate the reservation based entirely on Affleck’s present resume, I just don’t know how well (or unwell) Mrs. Matt Damon will figure into it, so I tend to let these things be.
If Tim Burton made Michael Keaton work as Batman, then maybe Affleck has half-a-chance.
If Zack Snyder made Henry Cavill work as Superman, then maybe Affleck has half-a-chance.
What excites me far more than any specific casting announcement is ‘the play’ that will be ‘the thing.’ When I know more about that … when I get a chance to finally understand the how and why a choice was made … then I may honestly feel otherwise. Having been around on this big blue ball for as long as I have, this isn’t my first rodeo. If Warner Bros. and Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder wanna have Ben Affleck jump aboard, take the bull by the horns, and show us his stuff, then that’s their call, not mine. Based on what develops in the time between now and the film’s eventual premiere, I’ll decide whether or not I’ll be willing to plunk down my $10 for a ticket.
In the meantime?
Why, there’s always Batman: The Animated Series. Has there been a better incarnation of Bruce Wayne or the Batman since Kevin Conroy? Not so far as I know.
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