Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Casting and Details
While I’m a little late to this party, here’s my honest opinion on the casting choices for Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Batman and Superman are two of the most iconic comic book characters to ever be inked to paper. As comic fans can be hard to please and take offense to the minor specifics of the lore, character origin stories, timelines, costume design, etc. The major outcries (internet petitions are in full swing) with the cast confirmations announced for the indirect Man of Steel sequel should come of no surprise.
But before I even get to the casting, let me just go on record that I hate the title. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice…Roles right off the tongue, right? First off, I find it hard to believe the two Justice League founders are going to square off for the bulk of the movie. Besides, unless Batman has an ample supply of kryptonite, superman would just pound him into a bloody pulp should the two seriously do battle (yeah, I know Superman wouldn’t because of his moral compass). But beyond that, it just isn’t a very appealing tilte. I say at the very least drop the versus and just call it Dawn of Justice, as anyone whose been following its development can slowly see it transitioning into a Justice League movie, especially with the recent additions to the cast. But not we’re getting off topic.
While I know the internet has been up in arms for months now, there are a few reasons I chose to withhold my opinions. First of all, I really love these two characters, especially Batman, but do always want to give people the benefit of the doubt. So yeah, when I heard the casting announcements for DC debuting its first shared live-action adaptation of the man of steel and dark knight, it will come to no surprise that I was disappointed along with everyone else. This is especially the case when it comes to Batman, as he is arguably my favorite superhero and I typically don’t care for Affleck’s acting. However, I have avoided commenting on the matter after deducing that maybe time was needed to let the heat die and then it wouldn’t be the enraged outcries of the Internet driving my emotions on the matter. So I waited and really just let the choices of the new Superman/Batman flick sink in and I think it’s been long enough that I can be completely honest.
WHO THE HELL CAST THIS MOVIE? I mean come on, did someone owe Affleck a life debt and decide now would be the perfect time to cash in and forever free himself/herself of servitude? Well was it worth slapping every batman, comic book, and superhero fan, let alone any casual moviegoer in the face? Fans have waited years for this crossover and even been teased a few times of its possible development, and after all that patience, this is what we get? While some of the other choices are just weird (Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor?), Affleck seems to be the main focus of everyone’s gripes, and for good reason.
Affleck is one of those actors who people generally dislike or credit him as being okay, which is generally fine when it comes to most casting choices. But you DON’T cast Gotham’s legendary caped crusader with an actor who is largely considered subpar at best and was already in a bombed superhero movie from DC’s competitor.
Sure Daredevil’s failures can be attributed to other factors that often plague bad movies, such as an unpolished script and dull character development. However, Affleck’s performance certainly didn’t save the movie and he just appears out of place as the heroic type. If he can’t bring to life the lesser known Daredevil, how the hell is he going to live up to the more stringent requirements that Batman fans (myself included) expect from those portraying the Dark Knight. He neither possesses the seriousness, darkness, nor presence that characterize Bruce Wayne and his masked persona that strikes fear into the hearts of Gotham's filth. So when it comes to Affleck, who some demand be given a chance and not be prejudged to harshly, I say he already had his opportunity when starring in Daredevil. I think I preferred Nicholas Cage's performance in Kick-Ass, at least there was some unintentional comic relief.
But this isn’t the first time that a casting selection for a Batman flick has been called into question. The most recent that had fans up in arms was Heath Ledger being chosen to play the Joker and we all know how those concerns quickly degenerated to praise following The Dark Knight’s unveiling to audiences. But one that most fans either tend to forget or are too young to remember was the major denouncement of Tim Burton’s decision to star Michael Keaton in his stylish interpretation. Now sounding foolish as most people generally think of Keaton when they think Batman, but there were major petitions drafted and keep in mind that this was the late 80s, so there was no Internet. Fans were that deeply outraged by the selection.
I’ve even seen this used as a counter argument for Affleck’s casting. “Give him a chance…We all know how good Keaton and Ledger were and they were not received well.” Okay, fair enough. But wait, I think any fan of Burton’s work will agree that Keaton was excellent in Beetlejuice. Not to mention that he proved misguided moviegoers and hesitant fans wrong when Batman graced screens in 1989, with the creatively dark Burton behind the wheel. Keaton is often credited as being the best Batman and if he doesn’t hold that spot on your list, I guarantee that he’s close to the top.
We should probably discuss the other side of the coin before wrapping up as Superman name shares the title. I'm not going to give a review of Man of Steel. Some people love it, while others didn't have one good thing to say about the reboot. Being among those who actually enjoyed Man of Steel, I have grave concerns for this sequel. With Jesse Eisenberg playing one of the most notorious, ruthless villains of the DC universe and Superman's greatest adversary, it would seem we were already venturing into strange tides, but this isn't the only troubling piece that Superman is bringing to the table. But first we have to look at the source from which this movie is supposed to be stemming from.
Sure Man of Steel wasn’t perfect, but it was a Superman movie that finally packed a punch. It pit Supes against others of equal strength and we got to see him in an all out brawl. Not to mention the showdown with Zod at the film's conclusion was everything I wanted to see from a revamp. Don’t get me wrong, I love Donner’s Superman II and in many ways prefer Terrance Stamp’s portrayal of the brutal revolutionist general, but it was nice to finally see some real action. Although initially hesitant, mostly because of my unfamiliarity with his work, Henry Cavill is the new Superman. He is believable in the role and manages to purvey peace, but develops a commanding presence when his time to done the legendary "S" finally arrives. This is especially the case following the floundering Superman Returns.
With this in mind, I’d have preferred a stand-alone sequel to further develop these characters and the universe. Superman could have faced off against Lex Luthor (picture a bald Eisenberg and tell me you don't get a Dr. Evil vibe) , Metallo, Brainiac, or my personal favorite, Doomsday. DC just seems to be playing catch up and instead of developing their universe like Marvel and then interweaving the stories, they seem to be just throwing them in one movie together. Who knows, maybe it will work. But I can’t see it possessing the same character depth as Marvel’s crossover The Avengers, where most of the major heroes already had at least one film under their belt to establish back story and illustrate the sense of a larger universe. With the conclusion of Nolan's Batman trilogy, I assumed and would have welcomed the Man of Steel receiving similar treatment, but was mistaken.
I guess only time will tell if the ranting fans were right or the unyielding casting team. Whatever the outcome, they know that we'll all go see it and the crossover will gross millions with ease.