The negative reaction to recent news, that Ben Affleck will be starring as Batman, in Batman VS. Superman is just another example of a condition that fans have been suffering from for many years. What happens is that we are introduced to an actor as Batman, we accept the actor, and then the actor is replaced, causing us to have a severe attachment disorder. There are Batman’s that were of course never accepted, but since we never had one for too long anyway, it wasn’t really relevant. This cycle has been going on for years and, a lot of the actors that were cast as Batman do not fit the image.
How do we know what Batman’s image should be, if there are so many Batmen? The Batman comics and several cartoons have set a foundation for what the masked hero should be. I don’t mean to have a preference, but I do. At this point, I think that picking a Batman should involve closely watching Batman: The Animated Series. If anything, I would have voice actor Kevin Conroy, do voice overs for some buff guy in a suit. Kevin Conroy is Batman, atleast vocally, as per Justice League, Batman Animated series, Animated movies, and even the Arkham video games. If it weren’t for the fact that physically he is a complete opposite, I would nominate him a hundred times over for the position.
I don’t think that Batman’s physique is all that important. The suit can give anyone a body and the look of an expert crime fighter. Batman’s image is more about the portrayal of the actual character.
Batman is supposed to be slightly anti-social, incredibly intelligent, consumed, dark, and obsessed, in other words, Christian Bale. But we did that already, didn’t we? I believe it worked well with Christian, expect for the raspy voice.
So now we are on to, Ben Affleck. (sigh)
But its not only about the actor and the character, how the director chooses to put together the film is just as important.
Let’s take a look at Batman history and the many actors and movies we’ve had to become acquainted with:
Adam West’s Batman was of a different generation. Although still highly intelligent, he was incredibly humble and sweet. That shouldn’t be a downfall and it wasn’t. The TV series was loved for the extensive mystery solving by the dynamic duo and the animated POW, WAM, and BAM’s, during the fighting scenes. It was a bit too cartoony for what I always believed Batman to be, but I think it gave us a good look into what a straight-laced, circa 1950s, Batman would be like.
Keaton is who I always considered to be the real Batman. Not only because he is the first Batman I actually laid eyes on, but because his character had a major presence on screen. I respected him and believed he was a man living a double life that had all these internal battles. Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) were very dark, thanks to Tim Burton’s expert directing, and set the mood for Keaton’s interpretation of the superhero. But once they let him know what they had in store for the next movies, he was out. Based on the two films that followed, I cannot blame Keaton for taking the high road.
With a completely different director and Batman, came a film that didn’t have the feel and look of the previous movies. Kilmer didn’t make such a bad Batman, but I feel his character lost the dark and consumed tone that Keaton had already established. Fans were already skeptical because they introduced a different actor, but he also looked completely different, and had a different approach at the role. I also feel that colorful villains, were not a match for the deeply dark Catwoman and Penguin, from the previous movie. Who could take Tommy Lee Jones seriously with half his head in purple?
Based on a recent interview with Conan O’brien, I’m convinced that Val Kilmer didn’t make any other movies because of the suit. In fact, all the Batman’s have some type of complaint about the getup. Is the suit the reason why we can’t keep a decent Batman?
The funny thing about Clooney is that I feel that he is more convincing as Bruce Wayne, then he is at being Batman. (If that makes sense.) I could see him as an incredibly wealthy Bachelor making important decisions and lolly gagging around a mansion but, I couldn’t get used to seeing him in costume fighting villains. Its like he’s too delicate for that kind of work. Its probably his calming voice that has me convinced. Batman and Robin (1997) seemed to want to catapult the series into the future by introducing advanced gadgets and futuristic surroundings. Unfortunately, the way it was put on screen may have come off as cheesy to most.
I’ve been a fan since American Psycho, but he had me at Equilibrium. Christian Bale’s interpretation of Batman was spot on. If the movies he was featured in would have premiered immediately after Keaton’s movies, I would have just envisioned him as a younger version of the original. I wasn’t too fond of his raspy Batman voice. Keaton said in an interview that in order to make someone as publicly known as Bruce Wayne, unrecognizable as Batman, he would lower his voice, so that it wasn’t so blatantly obvious that he was the same person. Bale took a page out of Keaton’s book, but exaggerated the execution, and it made me want to clear my throat every single time he was on screen.
The focus of The Dark Knight trilogy, seemed more serious and more feasible. Heath Ledgers performance was outstanding and people are still raving about it. The Joker from The Dark Knight, is the type of villain that was needed in the past 2 films. A villain that we would believe could be walking the streets right now. Not that there aren’t any people with purple hair not capable of being villains, but rather that there is a believable purpose to to the villains appearance and way of being. Harvey, in The Dark Knight, was a raw Two-Face and that’s what we’ve been looking for.
Because of the amount of pressure Affleck is getting for this role, it is possible that we are either going to see exactly what we expected, or he’s going to step up his game to something we’ve never seen from him before. The same goes for the production of the Batman VS. Superman movie. But we’ve been pushed from one actor to the next, just hoping for one that we can associate with the superhero, so we are going to bitch about it.