Monday, August 26, 2013

Zack Snyder Explains Ben Affleck Casting: "I Needed a Batman People Could Despise"

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Batman fans, at least those of the film variety, have endured a roller coaster ride of terrific highs and pitiful lows as various directors have taken the helm. Tim Burton's two-picture outing with Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader breathed a fresh and decidedly darker life back into the cowled vigilante, who had been familiar to most moviegoers as only a campy 60s icon -- much to the dismay of diehard comic fans accustomed to a grittier hero. But that franchise suffered mightily when new directors took over and reintroduced, by slow and painful degrees, the campiness of Adam West via Val Kilmer and the stiletto-nippled George Clooney. But just when all hope seemed lost, Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale crept from the celluloid shadows and transformed The Dark Knight into a cinematic triptych of nouveau noir art and sincere passion. Unfortunately, history is cyclical. Zach Snyder dropped a bomb Friday when he revealed Ben Affleck as the next Batman. After three days of incurring incessant hate from fans, Snyder defended his decision on Monday with a surprising confession: "I chose Ben because I needed a Batman people could despise."

Affleck is most famous for being the husband of actress Jennifer Garner. He also starred in "The Voyage of Mimi," "Hands of a Stranger," "The Second Voyage of Mimi," "Pearl Harbor," "Gigli" and "Daredevil."

His work in "Pearl Harbor" and "Gigli" earned Affleck the scorn of film critics across the nation. His portrayal of Marvel's Matt Murdock, the blind superhero known as Daredevil, earned him the wrath and enmity of practically every comic book lover around the globe.

Yet Affleck's emetic performance in "Daredevil," which comic aficionados have described as more horrifying than watching a microwave oven explode a hamster with barbed wire driven into its tiny pink nostrils, is precisely what has confused audiences who are generally impressed with Snyder's treatment of cherished and sensitive properties, such as "Watchmen" and "Superman," with some even going so far as to forgive him for "Sucker Punch."

All Snyder would say during Friday's announcement was that "Ben provides an interesting counterbalance to Henry's Superman… He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crimefighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne."

This was the dreadful truth Batman fans were left to accept during the weekend.

On Monday, however, Snyder seemed to reverse course, but without the appearance of contrition or a feeble attempt to appease fans and stop the deluge of hate mail.

A spokesperson for Snyder, who hid her face and requested her name be withheld for security reasons during the press conference, assured the public that Affleck was chosen because of his utter detestability.

Mr. Snyder, Syncopy and everyone involved in the production of the forthcoming "Batman vs. Superman" release, scheduled for summer 2015, want fans to know that we agree with you about how awful Ben Affleck is. And that's what we wanted. As you know, the picture is based on the events covered in Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" miniseries.

In that iteration of events, Bruce Wayne has become a 55-year-old has-been who tries to resurrect his past glories and stop the rising levels of crime. In a lot of ways, Ben Affleck perfectly captures this character -- a washed up, middle-aged celebrity trying to recapture some imagined former value to society. Things don't go well for Batman in the story. His anticipated renaissance could be called Bruce Wayne's "Gigli."

Anyway, at the end, he must fight Superman, who's essentially portrayed as an embarrassing government lackey without much in the way of morals or concern for the greater good. And that was our challenge. With the tremendous success of "Man of Steel," in which we made people give a damn about a pretty ridiculous and boring comic book hero, we didn't want to lose momentum by having someone as charismatic as Batman overshadow him. Casting Ben Affleck, the antithesis of Henry Cavill's charisma and depth and appeal, allows us to keep Superman looking edgy and dynamic by comparison.

Hating the new Batman is what ensures the longevity of the new Superman. After Nolan's masterpiece, there's nowhere for Batman to go but down. We all know it. So let Superman have his new day. It's his turn. He deserves the same attention and patience you gave to the Caped Crusader after Adam West and Val Kilmer and George Clooney. Thank you.

2013. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. See disclaimers.

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