Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Way We Weren't: Josh Brolin as Batman

During Warner Brothers' panel at this years San Diego Comic Con, it was announced that the sequel to Man of Steel would feature fellow DC hero and big screen icon Batman.  With Christian Bale firmly retired as the Caped Crusader, the rumor mill worked overtime speculating who might fill the cowl and boots opposite Henry Cavill.  WB and MoS director Zack Snyder had already mentioned wanting an older, gruffer Batman who would be influenced by Frank Miller's work on The Dark Knight Returns.  Following a most likely exaggerated rumor that Bale was being offered $50 million for 20 minutes worth of screen time came a short list of names that included Ryan Gosling (too young), Joe Manganiello (too bland) and Josh Brolin.

Brolin, whose profile has risen in recent years thanks to solid supporting roles in Grindhouse:  Planet Terror, No Country For Old Men, American Gangster, Wall Street 2 and Men In Black 3 but faltered as a leading man in W. and WB's own comic adaptation Jonah Hex as well as the star studded Gangster Squad.  Brolin would have been an excellent choice for a grittier Batman, he has the ability to clean up and be charming as well as get dirty and demented.  His onscreen physicality is convincing and his troubled off screen run ins with the law and alcohol suggest some deep rooted chaotic tendencies.  His work in the upcoming remake of Oldboy by Spike Lee looks equal parts physical, dramatic and plain badass but his poor track record as a box office draw was probably his undoing in the Batman race.  Unless he wasn't interested, there's always that.

Today it was announced that Ben Affleck would be donning the cape.  On one hand it makes total sense as Affleck is a great actor, has portrayed physical types and is in the good graces of Warner Brothers as his films The Town and Argo have brought big box office and Oscar gold.  But is he a good choice?  Is he an inspired choice?  Not particularly.  In fact, he is the uninspired and quite frankly, boring, choice.  I understand he's done well for WB but casting Affleck brings no excitement to the film.  Comic fans will probably make endless comparisons to his portrayal of another masked superhero from comic lore, Daredevil, the less than well received adaptation of rival Marvel's blind lawyer by day, ninja vigilante by night.  I actually liked the flick in it's original and Director's Cut form but Affleck didn't embody the role in an unforgettable way like Bale did for Batman or Robert Downey Jr has for Iron Man.  Well, nobody's embodied a role as well as RDJ...

I dunno, Michael Keaton was a totally unexpected choice for Batman and WB received something like 50,000 protest letters but he was great in the role; odd, dark and captivating.  Val Kilmer seemed like a decent choice, handsome, a solid actor and physical.  George Clooney seems like an Affleck choice; in with the studio thanks to his work on hit TV show ER and a hot name at the time.  Bale was an obvious choice from an acting and physicality standpoint, he has depth, darkness and that sociopath charm but was far from a household name at the time.  That foresight seems to be missing here.  I went in to Man of Steel with low expectations and found it quite enjoyable.  Hopefully the same thing happens for the sequel.

P.S.  Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms.

Here's a great episode of Dinner For Five featuring an all Daredevil table:

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