In 2013 Ben Affleck was cast as Batman/Bruce Wayne in the movie “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” As the internet experienced a meltdown and some misguided fans even signed petitions to have Affleck removed from the project, I was always on board with him being cast as the iconic capped crusader. View my old blog post in the link below.
I wanted to follow up my recent review of “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” with my thoughts on how Ben Affleck actually played this iconic dual role. I will begin by posting this quote:
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times remarked: “All the Internet resistance to Affleck being cast as Batman seems silly when you see him … There’s not a moment when we don’t believe Affleck as Bruce Wayne or as Batman.”
I agree with this completely. It is kind of funny that even though many Batman and superhero fans had a public meltdown over Ben being cast, there is nary a hater to be found these days. Another point I want to make is, although I supported Ben 100% in this role and could see him doing well, even I underestimated exactly how good he ended up being in the role. Ben Affleck disappeared completely into both Characters! While watching the movie I completely forgot I was watching Ben Affleck! He is just that damned good!
Comparisons are inevitable and I hate to use the word “better” in my comparisons (I can enjoy many things equal without making such judgments) I will add that Ben has come to personify the role for me. I do in fact enjoy all live incarnations of the character. Believe it or not but as of this writing “Batman Forever” is my favorite solo Batman movie, but Ben is my favorite portrayal of the character. I do like Nolan’s Batman Trilogy even though I have issues with it, however, I never really had a problem with Christian Bale’s portrayal of the Dark Knight. After watching Ben play both roles I have come to see his performance as the one I have been waiting for, for decades. Finally Bruce Wayne and his alter ego “The Batman” are portrayed the way they have been portrayed in the comics for a long, long time. I look forward with great anticipation to the Justice League movies and the solo Batman movies where Ben will once again don the cape and cowl to strike fear into the heart of darkness.
Today I will look at the two actors that played Batman in the two Joel Schumacher movies, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. I do catch a lot of flack for this but these are my two favorite Batman movies. They’re a lot of fun. I think I have already addressed my love of this movies (I will have to check my back articles).
Val Kilmer replaced Michael Keaton as Batman after Keaton dropped out because Tim Burton dropped out! I think Kilmer was a great choice. He portrayed the struggling and tormented Batman very well! As I write this I am coming more and more to the conclusion that all the actors who have portrayed the Dark Knight have done a very good job. It seems the reason why it is difficult to judge the perfomance as Batman is due to the fact that the actor gets to hide in the suit and it is the suit that does the acting. In Kilmer’s movie he begins with a suit almost identical to the one that Keaton wore in his two movies. However, we do see the introduction of the nipples to Kilmer’s Batsuit and I personally never had a problem with them..honestly I never noticed them!!
Now we come to George Clooney…the man who is said to be the worst Batman and the reason why the franchise fell apart. I have to disagree. I thought he did a fine job in the role. He is not my favorite but I do not think he deserves the flack and ridicule he gets. Remember this is coming from someone that did like the movie. However, if you didn’t like the movie I think the script is the problem and not Clooney’s performance. I once read from some fans that Clooney looks down a lot while playing Batman and I never really noticed it before. I watched the movie this morning and while I did notice he would look down while wearing the cowl, I didn’t think it was excessive nor did I find it bothersome.
Of these two I do prefer Kilmer over Clooney only because his projected a darkness that the character needs. Clooney was in a film where we are right back in the realm of the 1966 TV series with Adam West and all of that delicious camp. So, Clooney’s Batman didn’t need to be that dark for that type of film. However, despite the lack of darkness in this version of the Dark Knight there is a good deal of drama in the film. There is tension between Batman and Robin. Some of the tension is due to Batman not trusting Robin to be able to handle the difficulties of fighting crime and this leads him to being over protective which makes Robin resentful. This issues is used by Poison Ivy to further create a wedge between the dynamic duo.
Next week I will look at many people’s favorite…Christian Bale star of the Dark Knight Trilogy.
It is a nice warm and sunny Friday morning as I write this. Late last night it was announced that Ben Affleck had been cast as Batman for the upcoming sequel to the Man of Steel movie. My first reaction was one of disbelief and shock. He wasn’t even on the radar. He wasn’t even mentioned as being in the running for the role. I also honestly thought that they would select a relative unknown and not a big name such as Ben Affleck. I think that is why I am so shocked. But the more I think about it the more I do like the idea. I think he can really pull it off. Today as I write this I am watching the majority of my fellow nerdlings have a meltdown as the interweb explodes with the fallout from this news.
I actually like the guy and his work. Like most of us, I was introduced to Ben Affleck when I saw the movie, Good Will Hunting. An excellent film. He and his friend, Matt Damon, crafted a great story and both acted superbly in that movie. Sadly, Affleck’s acting career had some misses as well as hits while Damon’s acting career really took off. I am also a fan of Kevin Smith’s movies and Ben has acted in several of them, my favorite is when he teamed up with Damon once again for the movie Dogma. Ben also had a highly publicized romance with Jennifer Lopez. Ben also was the star of Marvel’s superhero movie, Daredevil, which was not well received. All of this creates too much baggage in the minds of many fans of superhero movies.
But that is not the whole story. He starred in and directed in last years Academy Award winning film Argo. He also starred and directed the critically acclaimed film The Town. He played George Reeves in the well acclaimed film Hollywoodland. Ben Affleck does have awide range as an actor. He can do comedy as well as serious drama. Not every actor can do that.
I do understand that the last Batman, played by Christian Bale, is the most popular actor to don the Batcowl. So Ben does have some awfully big shoes to fill and hopefully he will not be in Bale’s shadow during his portrayal of the character.
Another point I want to make as my fellow nerds are all upset this morning is that back in the late 80s there was a similar outcry when Tim Burton cast Michael Keaton as Batman. Even I thought that was pretty certain back then that Keaton was wrong for the part he proved all of the nay sayers wrong and did two great performances as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The other thing I find fascinating about the nerd meltdown is that they have a problem with long-term memory. When Heath Ledger was cast as The Joker for the movie, The Dark Night, many fans were all up-in-arms and outraged about that! Today he is, and for a long time will be, the standard by which any portrayal of the Joker will be measured.
I am “borrowing” some points by a blogger Robert Galvan and they are all points that I completely agree with.
Let us go back through the history of movie casting:
- When Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Iron Man, people thought he would be TERRIBLE because of his past. This actually helped his character and made him the face of Iron Man.
- When Christian Bale was cast, people still thought of him as a small actor who would be terrible.
- Heath Ledger was BASHED up and down the street because of his pretty face when he signed on to play the Joker. Now most people now consider him the greatest Joker ever portrayed.
- Daniel Craig as James Bond… people did go crazy about it which most of you should remember, since it was just a few years ago.
- Chris Evans was the Human Torch and was thought of as a terrible actor. Uhh, have you seen London? And now he IS Captain America.
- Chris Hemsworth looks like an Abercrombie and Fitch model and he was in Star Trek, but now he IS Thor.
- Hugh Jackman was a broadway star. How in the hell is he going to be the ferocious Wolverine? Go remove your foot from your mouth now.
As I said, Ben Affleck was not even on the radar as being in the running to play Batman. Many sites on the internet listed whom they believed would be a worthy successor to Christian Bale to play Batman. The favorites were: Matt Bomer (my personal choice), Richard Armitage, Josh Brolin, Armie Hammer, Ryan Gosling and others. I think Affleck as a better choice than Brolin. I just don’t think he has the looks. I now am wondering if these were true rumors, that the studio was looking at these actors, or were they just the dreams of fan boys?
I am more than willing to give Ben Affleck a chance in the role and I think he will do just fine. There are more important things to consider such as the script and the tone of the film. I am more concerned about the script than who they cast as Batman. Look at Clooney in Batman and Robin. While I may enjoy the movie as an homage to the campy 60s show, Clooney did not do a bad job acting as either Wayne or Batman. The problem was people did not want a campy Batman movie, or at least the level of camp that was in that movie. So if Clooney had been Batman in a less campy movie I think people would not be putting the blame for that movie on his shoulders. If they set the tone of this movie like they did with Iron Man then I think Afflack will do just fine.
I am sure the tone of the film will be similar or exactly like the one established in Man of Steel. If that is the case then I really have no worries about Ben Affleck being able to play Bruce Wayne and Batman. I just hope they have a good story to tell and that the script is well written.
The Man of Steel movies has not done as well as WB had hoped, although it is still success and it is more successful than 2006’s Superman Returns. Does this mean that Superman doesn’t translate that well into being a more serious character? What should be the tone of a superhero comic book movie? Many sing the praises of the Nolan Batman trilogy for its gritty realism. Some do not like it at all. I am between those two extremes. While I do like the trilogy, with the first movie, Batman Begins, as the most enjoyable, I do think that there are times when these movies seem like something else rather that a superhero movie. So, what should a superhero movie look like?
There is not one answer to this question but I do see a common denominator. To ironically quote the Joker from the movie The Dark Night..”Why so serious?”
That is they key element. At some level in the movie it needs to not take itself so seriously. After all these are stories where adults are dressing in costumes and fighting crime. If this were to happen in the real world such a person would be spending some time in a psychiatric center. I find many of the Marvel movies, specifically the first Iron Man movie, does strike the right tone. I also notice that there is a continuum of tone. As I mentioned that Iron Man strikes a good tone but can there also be a time when a more lighthearted approach can also work? I think so….and this is the heart of the issue; To balance seriousness with a lighthearted approach. For the next couple of paragraphs I will defend one of my favorite Batman movies, Batman Forever, and demonstrate how that movie does successfully balance the seriousness with a lighthearted approach.
First of all, the set designs, costumes and cinematography all let the viewer know that this is indeed a fantasy and not the real world. Gotham is not realistic but it is a character all its own that adds to the verisimilitude of the movie. Direct Joel Schumacher used brighter colors than the previous director, Tim Burton, but it still kept Gotham as a foreboding gritty crime filled city. The setting does establish the tome of the movie that it will be serious but lighthearted. The over-the-top portrayal of the villains, Two-Face and the Riddler, played wonderfully by Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carey, also lets us know that this movie is to entertain and to not take it so seriously.
Yet, the movie does have some serious themes. It shows Bruce Wayne/Batman, played greatly but Val Kilmer, struggling with his identity and the guilt over his parents death. We see Dick Grayson/Robin, played brilliantly by Chris O’Donnell, struggling with grief, the murder of his family and the desire for revenge. Although this movie does have camp like the 1960s version of Batman, this movie does not show that the relationship between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Dick Grayson/Robin was anything but smooth and it took them time to form a partnership. For myself this is the strength of the movie and watching them come together is what makes it so enjoyable for me.
Batman Forever is on the more campier side of the verisimilitude of comic book movies, much more so than Iron man, but it does demonstrate that there is a continuum within the less realistic approach of the recent Nolan Batman and Superman movies. The sequel to Batman Forver, Batman and Robin, although a guilty pleasure, did cross the line in the other direction and demonstrates that going too campy can also cause a problem. So for myself with Batman Forever on the campier end of the spectrum and the first Iron Man being the more serious end of the spectrum gives comic book movies a great deal of space to work with to find that perfect tone for these types of movies.
The Dark Knight Rising comes out on DVD in a couple of weeks. I have not seen it yet. I will get it I am just not sure when. Last night I was in a Batman mood and I watched the 1995 Batman Movie, Batman Forever, produced by Tim Burton and directed by Joel Schumacher. The movie stars Val Kilmer as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Chris O’Donnell as Dick Grayson/Robin, Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, Jim Carrey as Edward Nigma/The Riddler, Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian: A psychologist and love interest of Bruce Wayne.
This may be blasphemy to many but this is my favorite Batman movie. After I watch The Dark Knight Rises I will review that movie and the entire Nolan Batman franchise. Right now Nolan’s Batman trilogy is being hailed by fans as the best. While I do enjoy the Nolan Batman movies I do have my complaints about it. I will not go into detail here by my major complain is that they lack joy and fun. I must say that the recent string of Marvel movies really struck the right balance for me between seriousness, realism and fun and adventure. While I do appreciate Nolan’s realistic approach I do think it needs to be kept in mind that these are comic book characters after all.
This blog post is in defence of Batman Forever and why I like it. I really like Kilmer’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Some critics called his perfomance as Wayne wooden. I think he is mysteriously aloof with a dark secret to hide. His story arc of coming to terms with his past so he can be Batman not out of a compulsion because of guilt but because it is his choice. The movie see Bruce Wayne returning to his Locus of Control and taking responsibility for who he has become instead of blaming the death of his parents. I find that to be good character development.
I also like the fact that the coming together of Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne as Batman and Robin is also filled with tension and good character development. They could easily have had the story be where Bruce Wayne naturally adopts DickGrayson as his partner…after all that is his destiny…but instead they take a more realistic approach where Wayne resists taking on Grayson as a partner who is also angry and wanting to avenge the death of his family.
Although Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey, who play Two-Face and the Riddler respectively, do a fine job in their roles I just wished they were a bit more serious at times. At times they are so comical and over the top that it gives the film an uneven tone and that would be my only complaint.
I find this movie a lot of fun to watch. The 1989 Batman with Michael Keaton is also good but the sequel, was too dark in tone for me but Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle / Catwoman does help redeem that movie. I find Batman Forever to be the most enjoyable movie for the reasons I stated. Plus I do like the charcter of Robin and this movie depicts his origin well and I like Chris O’Donell’s protrayal of Grayson/Robin. His Robin costume is pretty cool too.
In Hollywood and with the general public sequels get a bad rap. It is often stated that sequels are not as good as the original. I would certainly agree there are times when the original is superior to the sequel but there are times when the sequel surpasses the original. Below is a list of my favorite sequels, movies that I actually enjoy better than the original. Below the list I will make a few comments about some of them.
Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa
Toy Story 2
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Back To The Future Part III
Jurassic Park III
Lethal Weapon 2
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The Dark Knight
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
I didn’t include Back to the Future Part II on the list because, even though it is pretty good and I enjoy it, I don’t think it is as good as either the original or Part III. I included The Dark Knight because it really is a good film even though I do like the original a little better. I also included the last Rocky movie, which was technically Rocky VI. I really like that movie it captured so many things that made the original an Academy Award Winning film. I even included some Godzilla movies. While I think the 1954 original is excellent there are also many other very good movies in the Franchise, so I included just a few. I could have included more!