A movie buff and lifelong DC Comics and Batman fan, I want to offer my opinion concerning the brouhaha about Ben Affleck’s casting as the Dark Knight’s latest on-screen incarnation.
Though an avid DC reader who never misses an issue, I do not consider myself a “fanboy”. I don’t attend conventions; decorate my flat with related artwork or models; dress up like favourite characters; role-play them in video games or keep my comics in plastic-slip covers. I consider the term itself somewhat derogatory, something borne out by most fanboy behaviour following Warner’s announcement last Friday.
Nor is it a dirty secret however. I still smile remembering the horrified looks on some close friends’ faces at dinner when, during my father’s visit several years back, he innocently inquired whether I still read superhero comics. Once the sniggering ceased they asked why and I explained I simply enjoyed the stories. I love the idea of people with “powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men” using these to help the world.
Batman’s different in that respect. An ordinary man, his only powers are his intellect, physical prowess, gadgets and obsession to prevent anyone suffering his own overwhelming loss after witnessing his parents’ murder as a child. With the drive, commitment and financial resources, in theory anyone could be Batman.
Perhaps this explains the character’s almost universal appeal. Despite an inability to fly, move at super-speed, fire lasers from his eyes or move mountains, he is consistently ranked the world’s most popular superhero. It doesn’t explain the monumental idiocy a large percentage of Batfans now display.
There’s a petition circulating with over 80,000 signatures in opposition to Affleck’s casting. Fans threaten to boycott Warner’s films, picket studios, destroy merchandise and numerous other forms of stupidity to show their displeasure until Affleck’s replacement.
Affleck wouldn’t be my first choice to play Batman/Bruce Wayne either. However, I’m old enough to remember, as too are most people involved in this nonsense, similar pre-release opposition occurred following Michael Keaton’s casting in the first Batman movie. No doubt many of these very same people were those who petitioned for him to stay when he decided to hang up his cape and cowl after the second film.
More recently in 2006, the web erupted with anger when Heath Ledger landed the part of Batman’s arch-nemesis The Joker, a role he won an Oscar for in Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
The lessons to fanboys are simple.
Firstly, no matter how much noise this vocal minority makes you will not pressure a studio into changing their mind on casting. It can see the script and the big picture. To second-guess this so early in a film’s production process demonstrates both a complete lack of faith in the creative team and childlike naivete about how these decisions are taken.
Secondly, suck it and see. You don’t have any other choice and who knows – you may be pleasantly surprised!