Student sets out to review everything in existence. Fails miserably.
Unless you’ve spent the last few days either living in a cave or as a carbonite wall hanging for a giant green slug gangster, you’ve probably heard that Ben Affleck has been cast as Bruce Wayne in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel. Those of you who did manage to miss this announcement should count yourselves lucky, as right off the bat (ba-dum tsh) the internet collapsed under a plague of negativity. The source of this? None other than the scourge of adaptations. The bubbling vitriol of the self-righteous, entitled masses. The reason I advise Affleck to stay off of Twitter for a while.
(And no, not the cool kind.)
Pages and pages of angry posts erupted all over the web, all decrying this news as ‘the worst casting ever’ and how it had ‘ruined the film for [them]’. People have even started petitions to get Affleck fired from the film. And is it just me, or does this reaction come with a slight sense of being utterly ridiculous?
The chief arguments against Affleck appear to be that A) he was in Daredevil, which was bad, and B) he’s not Christian Bale/other actor people wanted as Batman. I must admit that I haven’t seen Daredevil and so I’m in no position to discuss its quality or lack thereof, and yes, Affleck probably wasn’t great in it. However, it’s also my understanding that that film was a steaming pile of horseshit, so it seems unfair to rest all the blame on his shoulders. Lots of actors have appeared in festering turds of movies. Al Pacino was in Jack and Jill. For Christ’s sake, Michael Caine did Jaws bloody 4.
(If I only I had borrowed Master Wayne’s shark repellent spray.)
Now, I’m not going to suggest that Ben Affleck is of a similar calibre to actors like them, but it’s worth remembering that most perfectly good actors have done awful films. What’s more, it’s not like Affleck has only appeared in bad movies. Since 2006 the man appears to have undergone something of a turnaround; Argo and The Town have proven his ability both on and off camera, and both were rather critically and financially successful. You can’t judge someone on one or two flops and ignore the rest of their work. Remember Heath Ledger? The same thing happened. Granted, it was a long time ago, but if you scour the internet thoroughly you can still find plenty of evidence of pre-Dark Knight hatred towards the man. They said he couldn’t act, that he was unsuitable for the role, and that it was ‘the worst casting decision of all time’. Sound familiar?
(Presented without comment.)
It’s part B of this argument that really gets me. Getting angry about a film that has not even gone into production yet because the person you wanted wasn’t cast is absolutely ridiculous. You cannot categorically state that someone else would be better until you have seen the film. No. Most of the whining seems to stem from the fact that people had particular favourites they wanted to see in the cowl; if the web had its way, the caped crusader would be played by a freakish amalgamation of Michael Fassbender, Josh Brolin and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Yes, they are all good actors. Yes, I can see them all as Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy. But to say that they would look more like Batman? He’s a fictional character. Who wears a mask and an all-over black bodysuit. Bulk them up a bit and anyone could play him. Complaining that your favourite didn’t get the part smacks slightly of entitlement and infantilism. Someone had to get the role, and you can’t please everyone.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly fine to be annoyed over a bad film. I myself am a fan of Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series, and even though I can understand the reasoning behind some of the changes the adaptation made (if you can get Sean Connery attached to a project then you damn well use him), I still feel a tinge of bitterness every time I’m reminded of its existence. However, this kind of feeling amongst nerdkind is completely different to whining about a casting decision. If the filmmakers show a complete lack of respect for the source material, warp developed and complex characters into two-dimensional stereotypes and treat common sense like a children’s baseball team treats a piñata, then by all means get annoyed about a film. However, if your chief grievance is that your favourite actor wasn’t given a part you wanted them to have, or that you don’t like the one they did cast, then you have no grounds to complain. Especially if it isn’t even out yet.
What I would like to know is why we are getting angry about this at all. In the aquarium of media problems there are far bigger fish to look at, and some of them have been ignored for so long they’re bobbing upside-down on the surface. Why haven’t we had films about superheroes of ethnicities other than ‘white North American’? Why are we arguing about who plays Batman when we are yet to have one movie about Wonder Woman, or Black Canary, or any other female superhero? And don’t use the argument ‘girls aren’t interested in superhero films’ because if you do you are an ignorant sexist bigot who apparently hasn’t watched one of these films in a cinema or hasn’t met a girl. My female housemates are probably more knowledgeable about superheroes than I am, and I’m writing a thousand-word blog about them. Get angry about these kinds of things. If you have to start petitions, start petitions about this. Not about who plays Batman in the nth Batman film.
If you genuinely care about who plays who in movies, become a casting director. Just stop bitching about it on the internet.