Hey there, this is The Weekend Dump. It’s a new thing I’m gonna try to do in order to have some form of scheduled posting going on up in here. Keep in mind that I used to do this via a weekly trailers post and, well, do you see a trailers post this week? No, you don’t. But they never brought in the views like my reviews do so I guess the impetus to keep doing them wasn’t there. Plus, it was lazy. The Weekend Dump will be where I take a piece of movie based news from this week, or maybe a few pieces, and then write some unedited rant/thing about that news. Hopefully it’ll generate a little discussion. I was going to write about how Star Wars Episode VII is (brilliantly) being shot on 35mm film with a focus on practical effects. And then THAT news broke. So yeah, Batfleck everybody… let’s dump.
The news that Ben Affleck will be putting on the cape and cowl to play Batman in the upcoming Batman Vs Superman movie, or whatever they’re going to call it, was met with the sort of vitriol usually reserved for any YouTube video about feminism. Seriously, Feminist Frequency had to close down the comments on her excellent Tropes Vs Women in Videogames postings. Anyway, many vocal people were not too happy about Affleck being cast as the Caped Crusader. Now, I’d consider myself a bit of a Batman fan. Hell, I’ve reviewed almost every batman film on this very blog. Feel free to go read them. Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe! If you go over those reviews you’ll see that I don’t have any single depiction of Batman that I feel is superior to all others. That’s kind of the beauty of Batman in general. He can be as campy as Adam West or as brooding as Keaton but still be Batman. So let’s try to determine what sort of Batman we’ll be getting from Ben Affleck as directed by Zack Snyder.
Top start with, Ben Affleck has one element of his career that puts him in, perhaps, a greater position than any previous actor who has portrayed Batman. He’s actually played a super hero before when he was Matt Murdock/Daredevil. Daredevil isn’t even that far removed from Batman in what he essentially is either. He’s a well off guy that takes it upon himself to rid his city of scum and villainy. He’s less concerned with saving the world and more with making sure criminals fear him. So, in some ways, Ben Affleck has played Batman before. I will stress here that Daredevil was not a great film, but Ben was certainly not that film’s problem. I should review it some day. A similar parallel would be Ryan Reynolds in Green lantern. He did his best (Dammit!) but was saddled with a director that seemed disinterested in the setting. Daredevil had a director that cared but was saddled with studio pressure to make the film a certain thing and to find space to set up Elektra for her own franchise.
Regardless, Affleck knows what it’s like to play a brooding avenger in the night and has plenty of experience wearing head to toe borderline bondage gear to earn money. Also, he wore that Daredevil costume in the film… HEY YOOOOOO!! ahem. So we can have an idea of how he’ll play Batman from Daredevil. Maybe… You see the big factor in this is the fact that Zack Snyder is directing this film. He’s already set a level of action required for his Superman movies that depict Superman’s powers at a level not seen on film before. How is Batman going to counter that? Can Snyder depict a Batman that wishes to stay in the shadows as being one to even attempt to go toe to toe with the Man of Steel? This Batman is going to have to be quite a bit more action orientated than any previous Batman.
This leads me to believe that we’re not getting a rookie Batman but a in full swing gadgets and everything Batman. The sort of Batman we get in the Arkham Asylum and City games. This Batman is going to need gadgets to prevail. I assume the point of the film will be for Batman and Superman to come to blows and eventually realise who the real villain is and set about taking him down. It’ll be Lex Luthor by the way, apparently played by Bryan Cranston, cos lazy casting is always good.
Now, when it comes to this sort of Batman, Affleck may not be such a bad choice. We’re certainly not getting an introverted character study from this Batman. This is a Zack Snyder film so this Batman will have all the character depth of a flannel. There will probably be a few scenes where he contemplates stuff but we’re not going to get much complexity here. Which means Affleck will be right at home. See, I don’t mind Ben Affleck, but he’s not the most nuanced actor. You can usually tell when he gives a shit (Argo, Good Will Hunting, Phantoms… yo) and when he could not care less (90% of his work). I doubt he’s going to be too invested in Batman beyond making sure he hits the necessary marks required of this particular film. Remember, here’s a man that once said this about being Daredevil: “Wearing a costume was a source of humiliation for me and something I wouldn’t want to do again soon.”. Now I know Affleck is a genuine comic book geek, but I doubt his motivation to play Batman is entirely based on wanting to get into that costume.
So lets try to establish what type of Batman Affleck will be playing. I think we can safely rule out an Adam West style depiction. I’d be amazed if we ever saw a depiction like that on a cinema screen again. I’d pay to see it, it just won’t happen. I’m not confident he can pull off the psychotic in a mask look Keaton had. Affleck hasn’t got the eyes for that. He’s certainly not going to be able to pull off the measured, commanding vocal tone of Kevin Conroy in the animated series. He just hasn’t got the authority in his voice for that. Warner will likely want to depict this Batman as closer to the Nolan Dark Knight universe. After all, they have said many times that Man of Steel was an attempt to ground Superman in reality, much like Batman Begins was. But is a Batman grounded in reality enough to take on Superman?
That leaves us with 2 movie depictions to lean towards, one good, one terrible… and Affleck could play them both. Now, I’m not saying Ben Affleck is as good an actor as Kilmer or Clooney in their primes, he’s a few steps behind them most of the time. But he could pull off that brooding yet laced with comic book camp tone those Batman’s had. A more extravagant Batman that relies on his wonderful toys and gadgets. That has a past and carries baggage but isn’t going to confront those issues when he has bigger fish to fry. Hopefully he’ll lean more towards Kilmer than Clooney because, and I quote, “I was in a rubber suit and I had rubber nipples. I could have played Batman straight, but I made him gay”. I’m not saying Batman can’t be gay… just, don’t play him gay.
So now we have Snyder’s emotionally crippled Superman world with a Batman played by Ben Affleck in the style of Kilmer. Suddenly it kinda starts to gel. This is more the Batman that would get involved in the worldwide concerns, such as the destruction of Metropolis caused almost entirely by Superman not going to ask his space dad how to defeat Zod in the 24 hours he had spare. This is not going to be an intelligent depiction of either Batman or Superman. Remember, this is being written by David Goyer, who’s a good concept man but not a smart writer. Now get Jonathan Nolan or David Hayter involved, one of which has worked on Batman and the other has experience with Snyder on his best film, and we may have a smarter Batman. We ain’t getting that though. We’re getting the sort of Batman that will go into a fist fight with a man who could punch the world in half if he wanted.
So, I’m done extrapolating what to expect of Affleck as Batman, that being a lighter, more gadget laden and adventurous Caped Crusader. Now, we all know what he’ll need to take on Superman. Some of that there Kryptonite. You know how many times Batman has defeated Superman in the comics using Kryptonite? Zero… Batman has never fully beaten Superman within the comic book canon. He’s come close, he’s incapacitated briefly, or stalled enough to save the greater threat, but never actually beaten Superman into submission. And with great reason too. Superman is the man of feckin’ steel. He could sneeze Batman’s head off if he wanted. Anyway, back to the Kryptonite. How will Batman acquire this? Well, duh! Lex Luthor of course. And now I take a stab at what I think the storyline for Batman Vs Superman will be.
After the destruction of Metropolis there was only a few men in the world capable of producing the sort of money required to rebuild the city. Sure there’s government aide but we’re talking about rebuilding one of the most densely populated cities in the world that was flattened to the ground. That means the two most likely candidates in the DC universe to be able to afford such a task would be Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne. Lex will hate Superman because Lex hates Superman. Bruce/Batman will likely see Superman as a threat he’s not too sure of yet. He understands that he wishes to fight the good fight but is very much aware of just how much damage this one man could do. Maybe Bruce gets involved with working with Lex when he realises that Lex may have the key to defeating Superman, that plot device in the form of a rock known as Kryptonite. But in the process of getting close enough to get hold of this Kryptonite Bruce will have to appear to be working alongside Lex, someone he is likely aware isn’t entirely on the up an up. This could lead to some of Lex’s hatred for Superman rubbing off on Bruce as his view of Superman is clouded by Lex’s view of the Man of Steel.
Lex would have some sort of Superman killing endgame in plan though, and Superman will have to prove to Batman why he can be trusted. He could do this by maybe saving a few people for once, there’s an idea Snyder. Regardless of how the film plays out we’re left with a dilemma. For Batman to fight Superman he has to have his view of the Man of Steel skewed somehow, which is slightly un-Batman. He’s cautious but he’s not gullible. Now there is no question that Batman and Superman will have to come to blows. They set this up just by quoting The Dark Knight Returns (A fight Batman loses BTW). They can’t have this fight early on because they have to establish why this Batman could take on Superman. So the fight will have to be near the climax, but it can’t be the finale. See, you can’t end the film with Batman and Superman fighting because you need both of them to do something heroic to save the world from whatever Lex has planned. How would Lex then stand up to both heroes? He’s gonna need that anti-Superman armour of his. But people are coming to see Batman Vs Superman… Will people still be interested in watching a fight afterwards that they haven’t been invested in seeing from the very beginning? I’m not so sure. I guess we’ll find out in 2015 when this potential mess of a film is released. For now though, I’m quietly confident that Affleck will be able to play the Batman required for this film. It’s the film I have less confidence in.