August 26, 2013

The Ben Affleck As Batman Brouhaha

C2E2 - Adam West Batman Display
Somewhere, Adam West is laughing
at fandom's expense
This past weekend, the collective internet lost its sanity as possibly the greatest crime against superhero cinema ever perceived was committed....and Ben Affleck was cast as Batman for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman film.

As always (and as I summarized on Chicago Now), many on the Internet took to social media to advocate against this, to provide mobilization around such a noble cause, and to prevent this crime against humanity. As you can tell by the slightly sarcastic tone of this post, I am....well, to quote a great philosopher when it comes to this,I can't see the point, but I see the attraction. (That one's for the Comic Treadmill guys.)

To serve as a point of rationality and calmness (much to the chagrin of the collective interwebs), let me point out a few things:
  • Hollywood executives make their decisions solely around funding and income, not necessarily creativity - you might want to pick up Michael Jay Epstein's The Hollywood Economist (or check out Audible for the audio version and help support the Zone 4 podcast) for more details, but to summarize: getting movies funded - no matter what size - is a Herculean effort. Although Batman Vs. Superman seems a no-brainer, executives probably thought, Who can we get who is currently "hot"...but affordable?...I know, Ben Affleck!. It has nothing to do with insulting the movie goer's intelligence, or a creative misstep. Whic leads to...
  • Did you really expect wisdom from Hollywood executives? - After all, this is the same industry that thought that a comedy version of a long-standing character, featuring Johnny Depp with a crow on his head, was a good idea, and would make money. (Personally, I'm not an Affleck fan, but I'm also not going to judge the guy prematurely, because...
  • We have a director, and two actors, but no script - We know two actors and a director, but there's no script - not even loose leaf pages scribbled in red crayon. Just a reminder: you need some kind of story planning - what people in the film biz call a 'script' - in order to determine what the actors do. Now, if Affleck writes the script, you have a basis for comparison. Otherwise, posting petitions and calls for him to be removed are pointless because...
  • Filmmakers don't really make films based on social media - the whole Ben Affleck brouhaha smacks of "slacktivism" (believing that minor interactions online have major impact - for more details, please check out my recent Chicago Now post), and quite frankly, the ultimate vote any one of us has is the purchase of a ticket. We are free to judge a movie based on any preliminary footage, as well as paying to see the completed product. Download it illegally, and you're claiming moral superiority without taking a legitimate risk. When you pay your money, and you're dissatisfied, that's the point to register your. Or in other words, make sure the parrot's dead before heading to the pet shop

So in short, my opinion is....I'll wait and see. Affleck may be the best Batman ever....or he may be the most mediocre Batman. Or all of this could end up like online conversation about Heath Ledger as the Joker.

So please, fandom...take a long, deep breath. Maybe take a short nap. Things will get better. I promise.

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