Warner Bros.' upcoming superhero movie Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is probably second only to Fantastic Four in terms of the amount of backlash it received before filming even began. Surprise castings like Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor and - most of all - Ben Affleck as Batman caused a substantial amount of backlash from fans of the comics, many of whom felt that the Argo director and star wasn't up to the task of portraying Gotham's most famous vigilante.
When Affleck first talked about the process of being cast, he explained that he had been forewarned about the potential response by Warner Bros. The studio had shown him some past reactions to other controversial castings in order to prepare him for the inevitable internet response to the announcement, but Affleck insisted that he wasn't too phased, saying, "I'm a big boy."
A year on from the initial reveal and tempers seem to have cooled off considerably, especially in the wake of the small piece of teaser footage from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice that was shown to San Diego Comic-Con 2014 attendees in Hall H (and subsequently to the rest of the internet in a fuzzy bootleg format). Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview, Affleck said that the outcry really didn't phase him all that much.
"I wouldn’t have taken the part if I didn’t trust my instincts in terms of the filmmaking. I think Chris Terrio wrote a terrific script. Zack’s a great visual director. And there’s an interesting take. I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think I could do it. I have the benefit of a lot of that understanding. But also, everyone is entitled to their opinion. That’s a big part of this international sport."
Affleck is about the same age as Christian Bale, who wore the Batman ears throughout Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, but the Bruce Wayne of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will be older and more world-weary - in his mid-forties, according to producer Michael Uslan. As the beefed-up physique that Affleck showed off at Comic-Con can testify, however, Bruce hasn't let himself go in his middle age.
"I'm right in the middle of shooting now. It’s a process that I’ll probably have better perspective on when I’m done. I can tell you that every time I do a role, it’s the responsibility of an actor to get their physical self as close to the role as possible. And Batman’s obviously got a set of expectations that are tough. So I spent a lot of time working out. And it’s a far cry from Gone Girl where my character is described as 'puffy and hungover.' I want you to know I worked equally hard at both!"
Gone Girl, a mystery thriller directed by David Fincher and based on the novel by Gillian Flynn, stars Affleck as a man whose wife goes missing under suspicious circumstances, and who finds himself becoming a suspect in the eyes of the police, the media and even his own friends and family. The film will release this fall, and after that Affleck's next appearance on the big screen will be in Batman V Superman in spring 2016.
It certainly sounds like Affleck has a lot of respect for the significance of Batman, not only to hardcore comic book fans but also to mainstream audiences who grew up watching animated series and movies about the character.
"It’s great that people do care that much. They want to see the movie that much. And it is incumbent on you to honor the story. There are the Greek myths and these are the American myths. The American myths are these superheroes. People care about ‘em a lot. And it’s incumbent on you to do a good job and make it as excellent as you possibly can. At the end of the day, the movie’s all that matters."
Superhero movies definitely are matching the Greek myths in terms of popularity right now; three of the top five highest-grossing movies of the year so far are comic book movies, and with Warner Bros. recently announcing that 10 DC universe movies will be released between now and 2020, Affleck could have a very busy future ahead of him.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice arrives in theaters on March 25th, 2016.
Source: Entertainment Weekly
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