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Ben Affleck as Batman

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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.

MY Thoughts: Ben Affleck as Batman

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!

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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.

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Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice…a review.

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I cannot believe I have not yet reviewed Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The first pairing in live action of the two most iconic Superheroes in the world. There was a ton of expectation riding on this movie. The movie was heavily criticized by the professional pundits and under performed at the box office although it still made the studio money. One of the reasons for this is that the studio did not put out the three hour extended cut of the films into the theater. What was released to the theater was a truncated version of the film that was not very coherent in places. Note to film studio. Leave Zack Snyder alone and let him do his job, he knows what he is doing!

Therefore this review will be of the theatrical cut.

All movies do have their flaws…which is simply another way of saying “I would have done it differently” and although this movie is no exception the Pros greatly out weight any Cons it may have. I really enjoyed this movie so without further delay, the Pros and Cons of this film. Cons won the coin toss so they will go first. 🙂

Cons:

The story, even in the Extended Cut, still has some issues. The scene in the desert where Lois is interviewing a terrorist and then all hell breaks loose, it really isn’t too clear what is happening. One example, Batman brands his criminals and they end up getting killed in jail/prison…but the movie never tells you why they are being killed in jail or the motives for killing them.

Alfred. I think over all Jeremy Irons did a good job but his cynicism got old after a while. Plus, if he thinks Batman was going down the wrong road and becoming something corrupt, then you would think that he would have confronted Bruce long before he did in this movie. It seems Alfred was just as jaded as Batman was in this movie.

Death of Superman. I do understand that his sacrifice was to show the world that he truly is a force for good in the world and that he will use his powers to help and not hurt. However, maybe my objection is more about the elaborate funeral they gave Superman, because it all seems too soon because it really doesn’t feel Superman truly earned the accolades and the grief. In the movie Superman has been around less than two years and there is much controversy surrounding him, he certainly isn’t universally loved.

Death of Clark Kent. This is unprecedented. Sure, they have shown Superman die in the comics and animated movies, but they always have found a way to excuse Clark’s disappearance until Superman returns. This movie paints quite a dilemma where they are acknowledging both Clark and Superman are dead! How can they bring both back without the world knowing Clark Kent is Superman!?

Pros:

Good Story. Despite the story being muddled at times the story is very interesting and engaging. It really is not a story about Batman and Superman fighting, it is a story of redemption for both iconic characters.

Superman’s character arc. I like the idea in this universe where Superman isn’t a Mary Sue Boy-scout where everyone except the villains despise him and don’t trust him. In the real world we would have people truly fear and distrust Superman so I like that realistic approach and  how Superman has to cope with that reality especially in the face of life taking disasters committed to tarnish his name.

Batman’s Character arc. I love how this is an older and cynical and jaded Batman who has gone through many tragedies himself. We see that Robin is dead, Wayne Manor has been burned to the ground and Batman is an outlaw. I loved the scene where we fist see Batman in the room where he just branded the criminal and he is lurking in the shadows. Classic Batman! I also like how Batman comes to once again have faith in humanity restored. The scene where he rescues Martha Kent in the warehouse is the best live action scene of Batman ever put to film.

Special effects. Excellent. I love any time Superman takes flight!! Doomsday is created with such life-likeness! Great eye candy!

Good pacing. Even though the Extended Cut is three hours long the movie flows well without any slow spots at all.

Lex Luthor. I think Jesse Eisenberg was great as Luthor…yes he is Lex Luthor and not the son of Lex as many claim, he was bitter, psychotic and unpredictable.

Wonder Woman. What can I say? She was awesome! Gal Gadot was simply amazing as Wonder Woman and Diana Prince and she stole the show! I also loved the cameo glimpses of Aquaman and The Flash and Cyborg!!

I want to close by speaking of the controversial Martha scene. Sure, it is a bit cheesy but I do understand what they were doing and I think it was a great idea and worked although all it needed maybe was one line of dialogue. That was the moment Batman realized how far he had fallen and that he had become the very thing he had dedicated his life to fighting against. If Batman would have said that to Lois and Superman in some verbal way, I think it would have helped.

I really enjoyed this movie despite some of its flaws. All-in-all a good introduction of Batman in the DCEU and I look forward to more movies with these characters!

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Too Much of a Good Thing?

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One of the things I enjoy about such superheros like Superman, Batman & The Flash (my favorites in that order) is how unique they are. Superman is invulnerable, impervious to pain, can fly and run near at or better than the speed of light, has ex-ray and heat vision, super hearing…Batman is a human with no superpowers but an intellectual genius billionaire who has mastered several martial arts, has access to and developed many advanced gadgets, dresses up in a Bat-costume and fades into the night to scare and terrorize criminals. The Flash can run, move, think, and react at light speeds as well as having superhuman endurance that allows them to run incredible distances. Some, notably later versions, can vibrate so fast that they can pass through walls in a process called quantum tunneling, travel through time and can also lend and borrow speed. The Flash can heal more rapidly than an average human.

So what does DC Comics do with these unique characters? It creates a “Family” of similar superheroes with similar powers and abilities. Superman has Supergirl, Superboy, Krypto, Powergirl, Mon-El, Val-Zod Red Superman, Blue Superman, Asian Superman and Russian Superman etc. The Batman has many Robins, Nightwing, Batgirl, Batwoman, The Red Hood, Batman Beyond etc. The Flash has Jay Garrick (the earliest incarnation of the character), Barry Allen as The Flash, Wally West is the first Kid Flash and the third Flash, Bart Allen the second hero known as Kid Flash..and many more. Even Flash’s villains are just evil personifications of the Flash, such as Reverse Flash, Zoom and Doom etc..There are also many versions of the Green Lantern that originated from earth…Alan Scott, Hal Jordan,  Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz.

My complaint is that with so many Superheros with the same name or powers within these families it waters down and dilutes the original characters and turning what was a special and unique character into something more ordinary. I am conflicted about this because there are actually some of these extra characters I love (Supergirl, Val-Zod, Jay Garrick, Reverse Flash, John Stewart). I even plan on doing a blog post dedicated to Val-Zod in thew future….Plus, as an artist and creative person myself, I certainly do not want to stifle creativity…

I just cannot also ignore this nagging feeling that all of these similar characters take something away from the original characters. I stopped watching the Flash TV series because of this problem. Not only does he have a team helping him but the majority of the villains are just like him to the point where The Flash himself doesn’t stand out, isn’t the star of his own show and is simply one of many with the same powers. I think Supergirl suffers from this a bit also.

This was just a little venting and I don’t really want or expect anything to be done, it just explains why I gravitate to stories that depict the original character rather than these many similar extensions in these superhero families.

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Batman Syndrome?

This is hopefully going to be a lighthearted fun piece. One of the interesting things about following science-fiction and fantasy films is that the fan base for certain franchises can be strongly opinionated and people can tend to get nasty. I have noticed it with Godzilla, Star Trek and Star Wars fans and comic book superhero fans. That leads me to today’s topic. Another point I want to make is that although I grew up in the 60s and 70s reading comic books I do not read them that much any more although I have kept up with what is going on in many of them. One of the trends that is big right now is superheros fighting other superheros as apposed to fighting criminals and villains.

In light of next years movies, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Marvel’s Civil war…superhero battles are all the rage…pun intended. Therefore on many of superhero related groups on Facebook there are these hypothetical battles between these fictional characters and the most prevalent one is between Batman and Superman. Observing the passion on both sides between which superhero would be triumphant there is something I have noticed about Batman fans, which I am one, but these übber fans guys take it up several notches and have what is called Batman Syndrome.

Now I must confess I am biased. I am mostly a Superman fan and Batman comes in second place. Having admitted that, let me define Batman Syndrome. Batman Syndrome is the belief that Batman cannot be defeated and not only that, given enough prep-time Batman can defeat any superhero no matter how powerful they are. Superman has limits but it seems like Batman does not.

Why is this a problem for me? Well, as a Superman fan I do find it a little funny to think that a guy who can fly faster than light, lift a freight-train with one hand and have bullets bounce off his chest as if they were jelly beans can be beaten by someone with zero superpowers. But if you have Batman Syndrome you think beating Superman or any meta-human with powers can easily be done…any time and all of the time. Sure, Batman has his kryptonite which can weaken Superman and for those with Batman Syndrome that is all it takes.

But my problem goes deeper than that. Batman Syndrome fundamentally changes the essence of all the characters. Do you have superpowers? Doesn’t matter in the end because despite them you can be beaten. Then why have superheros with special powers? In the end, under Batman Syndrome, they’re worthless. The other and more important point is that it changes Batman the most. Part of the appeal of Batman is that he is a human being with no superpowers. He lurks in the shadows and the night and strikes terror in the hearts of criminals. Yes, he is a master of martial arts, he is extremely intelligent and has unmatched detective skills along with advanced gadgets and technology at his disposal. But when you turn him into a god-like being you take away his humanity and it is his humanity that made him a great character in my eyes.

The last thing that bothers me about Batman Syndrome is that it turns Batman into someone with questionable ethics. In my day Batman and Superman were friends with trust and a common goals of stopping crime and evil. A cynical Batman who doesn’t trust anyone and has questionable ethics doesn’t sound like a character that would even want to fight crime and evil.

I like Batman to be human and with limitations. I like all my superheros to have some limitations for it makes for great story telling. A human Batman is one to look up to and relate to as he embodies all the best characteristics of being human. Without that he is just another superhero and nothing really distinguishes him from the rest. As a mortal with no powers and with limitations is an exciting character.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, trailer review

This past weekend the full trailer for the movie Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was released. My first reaction was Holy Crap! Holy Crap meaning that was excellent! I am certainly not one that hated Man of Steel so I am greatly looking forward to this next movie. In my participation in various message boards and groups Man of Steel (MOS) does have its fair share of haters. Those haters of course ceremoniously also are sticking their noses up at this movie before they see it.

One of the reasons people tended to hate MOS was due to the rampant destruction. They seem to side with Holly Hunter, playing the part of a Senator that heads a committee holding Superman responsible for the destruction. Another reason the haters hated MOS was its failure to addresses the mass destruction issue. However, it looks like this movie will be addressing that very issue! Plus, we see Bruce Wayne, who was apparently in Metropolis on the day of the fight between Superman & Zod, and this is the impetus for the distrust and rivalry between the two Superheros.

I would like to comment on the main focus of the movie. The fight and rivalry of Batman & Superman. I grew up in an era where Superheroes fought other Super villains and not one another!!! I grew up in the 60s and 70s with the Super Friends cartoons and Batman and Superman were the best of buds and on the same side. From my participation in fan groups and pages dedicated to Superheroes (I even run one myself) having Superheroes battle one another is all the rage. Personally, I find it a bit annoying. Sure, some rivalry and bruised egos and distrust will make for some good story telling, and I don’t mind it going that far, but these out and out hatred and battles between them are not what I really like to see.

Reading the official synopsis of the movie does give me hope that this rivalry will not last long as a bigger threat arises forcing Batman and Superman to join forces against a bigger threat.

Two more points before I end this. I was on board when Ben Affleck was chosen as the new Batman for this film. You would think the internet had broken when so many fans had a meltdown when Ben was chosen. Haters crawled out of the woodwork! Today, I am happy to say that haters have dwindled in number to a very small few. The same can be said of the casting of Gail Gadot and Jessie Eisenberg as Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor respectively, as we view more pictures and trailers more and more prople are coming on board.

The tone of the movie looks good, it will have a lot of action and adventure with good drama and conflicts. I like the fact that Superman is not universally loved in theis Universe. It is like the real world. If someone that powerful did live among us, I am sure there would be those who did not trust him or did not like him.

Who played Batman the Best: Part IV.

With my interaction with fans on the internet I have come to see that Christian Bale’s performance as Batman is by far the favorite. There are many who also prefer Michael Keaton as Batman but Bale does seem the big favorite. I have written in the past about my love-hate relationship with the Dark Knight trilogy but that is another topic. I want to stick to his performance only.

I recently read a negative review of Batman Begins and one of the things the author said was that Batman was not depicted as a detective which is a big part of his persona. I disagree. I think that aspect is in the Nolan trilogy, yet I don’t think it is a big part of what he does in any movie. I think Adam West and the campy TV series has been the best in portraying Batman as a detective! Bale’s Batman is the most intimidating I would have to say. He has come out of the darkness to grab and harass criminals and informants. Some have complained about the voice Bale does as Batman. It is very gravely and gruff. I personally have no problem with the voice he did and there are a few times when that is what made him intimidating. I like the part when he has an informant hanging over the street high up in the air and the informant yes ”I swear to God” and Batman growls “swear to me!” Great scene and this is the Batman many wanted to see. Overall an excellent performance as Batman despite my problems with the movies themselves.

I cannot end this without mentioning Ben Affleck as Batman in the upcoming film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Of course I cannot really comment on his performance since we have not seen the film yet. We have seen the suit and while I like it for the most part, what I don’t like is the size of the Bat-symbol on his chest. I don’t mind the smaller ears on the cowl either. I have written before that I was surprised he was cast only because he wasn’t even on anyone’s radar. After the momentary shock wore off I was 100% behind this casting and I could really see Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne and Batman. I am really looking forward to his performance and the movie.

Well, I think my two favorite Batman portrayals are Michael Keaton and Christian Bale. They are a virtual tie with Val Kilmer coming close behind those two.

Next week I will finally review the new Godzilla movie!!

Who Played Batman the Best?: Part III

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.

who Played the Best Batman: Part II

I guess we’re lucky the internet was not around in the late 80s. You think people were up in arms over Ben Affleck being cast as Batman? That was nothing compared to the outrage over Michael Keaton being cast in the role! Many of you younglings who were not born then have no idea how bad it was. It was bad even without the internet! Oh how people complained! Even I questioned the casting! I just could not see Michael Keaton as Batman! He was known for his comedies and physically he seemed like an average guy on the street. Personally I liked the up and coming Steven Seagal as Batman. He was talk and handsome and had a very menacing screen presence and was a martial arts master. Perfect for the role! Alas, it never happened.

Today, many people rank Keaton’s performance as Batman right behind that of Christian Bale as their favorite. Some even count Keaton’s performance as their favorite. And what a performance it is! I remember seeing the movie in 1989 and realizing that Keaton really nailed the part. Honestly, I think the suit had a lot to do with it. His Batman suit is probably my all time favorite. Maybe it proves what “Batman” said in the Dark Knight Trilogy…”anyone can be Batman.” Keaton’s Batman is dark and returns Batman to a neo-forties film noir. The 1989 Batman truly is a graphic novel come to life and Keaton’s performance as the Dark Knight is what made the movie successful.

I remember critics saying that Nicholson’s Joker out shined Batman in the movie and I can agree to that although it did not detract from my enjoyment of the movie. Batman is a man hidden in the shadows and that is what Keaton brought to the role…a dark brooding crime fighter lurking in the shadows to strike fear in the hearts of Gotham’s criminals. I think Keaton did a wonderful job portraying that aspect of the character. In Batman Returns I enjoyed the tension between Batman and Catwoman. I think Keaton was excellent  as Batman in this movie also even though the movie is a bit too dark for my tastes.

 

Who was the best Batman?

A while back I did a couple of posts about my favorite portrayal of Superman. Today I want to do the same with the many people who have played the Caped Crusader. Although I want to limit this discussion to the 1966 TV series and the feature films beginning in 1989, I want to also comment on Lewis Wilson who played Batman in the serials of the 1940s. Many of the themes of those shows made it into the comic books. The Batcave is one example. Prior to the inclusion of the Batcave in the serials it did not exist in the comics. At that time in the comics butler Alfred Pennyworth was depicted as being over weight. In the serials he was portrayed as thin by William Austin and has been portrayed that way in the comics and film ever since. Lewis Wilson paved the way for other men to don the cape and cowl.

The first actor I want to look at is Adam West. I know for myself and others Adam West’s portrayal of the character was the first introduction to Batman. This rendition of the caped crusader was far from the dark and gritty origins of those depicted in the pulp fiction comics of the 40s. This Batman was a goodie-two-shoes and we loved every minute of it. The brilliance of the show was its camp. When I first began watching the show in reruns in the 70s I was 10 years old. The black and white portrayal of good vs. evil appealed to my youthful ideals and sensibility. Now as an adult the camp is funny and entertaining yet the boyscout aspect of Batman has not grown stale.

Things I didn’t notice notice as a child was that Adam Wests’ portrayal was a little cold at time. His Batman was a bit distant even if he was always trying to do good. I even noticed that there were times when Batman was dealing with Robin he could be a little condescending and arrogant at times.

While I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Adam West and his portrayal of Batman it isn’t my favorite. I still love the show though and in November the entire series will finally be released on DVD and Blu-Ray and I do plan on picking it up.

 

Next week…Michael Keaton as Batman.

Where have all the colors gone?

The more I get into my art work the more I find it fascinating in how things are designed. From the design of starships or monster and creatures such as Godzilla and Cloverfield and even superhero costumes. This last subject, superhero costumes, is the topic of this post. I have been watching a lot of superhero movies and TV shows these past few weeks and I wanted to comment on how the costumes have changed.

In the 50s and 60s with George Reeves as Superman, Adam West as Batman, Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman and Christopher Reeve as Superman in the 70s and 80s all had one thing in common: brightly colored costumes. Somewhere in the 2000s this began to change. Superman Returns, which came out in 2006, starred Brandon Routh which was a semi-sequel to the Christopher Reeves movies has a uniform that has a different shade of blue along with a red cape, undies, and boots that are more of a muted wine color rather than bright vivid red.

The Flash, a new TV series set to debut this fall, also has a redesigned costume and one of the main points is the bright red is substituted for a similar muted wine color featured in Superman Returns costume. Last years Man of Steel saw a radically redesigned superman costume. The muted blue was textured, the outer undies are gone and the red cape and boots are muted but not as much as the Superman Returns costume.

Why the trend in muted colors? I think in the name of realism these muted colors make our heroes look less cartoon and animated like than  their previous live action predecessors. Don’t get me wrong, I do like these new costumes and their colors. My question is, is this trend permanent or will brighter colored costumes make a return on the big and small screen? My thought is that Hollywood runs in cycles and someday I think we will see a return to brighter colors although I do think we will still see modern designs. I don’t think we will see an exact copy of the Christopher Reeve costume again, although the brighter colored costumes may return.

Maybe the larger question is will we see Superman with outer undies once again?