|George Clooney as Batman|
"I am the least qualified person to comment on anyone playing the role of Batman since I so terribly destroyed the part. I tend to look at it like this — let’s just see what the movie is before everyone starts beating him up, he is a smart man, he knows what he is doing."
Anyone who own's the DVD of Batman and Robin will have seen the included documentary, with George's humorously self depreciating reflections on how he ruined the Batman franchise, however, in my opinion, of all the things wrong with the film, George really wasn't one of them.
In a 2011 interview with Total Film Clooney had this to say about his turn as the Batman...
"Batman is still the biggest break I ever had and it completely changed my career, even if it was weak and I was weak in it. It was a difficult film to be good in. I don’t know what I could have done differently. But if I am going to be Batman in the film Batman & Robin, I can’t say it didn’t work and then not take some of the blame for that."
I'd have to agree with him (except about him being weak in the movie). His career certainly didn't tank after doing the film. If I remember rightly it was a real stepping stone for him from TV fame to Movie Star fame. Not to mention, after years of Christian Bale's Batman, it's so nice to revisit a Batman who you don't need a translator to understand what he's saying.
Also according to his Total Film interview George was really excited to land the role of Batman. It's kind of a shame the film's legacy means he's remembered as the worst Batman when really he wasn't. Kind of like how Ryan Reynolds gets a bad rap for Green Lantern even though he wasn't the reason for that movie's failure.
Ben Affleck's long time friend Matt Damon some time ago also commented about Ben's casting to the Times of India saying:
"I think it will be great. It will be terrific. I know there are a lot of people grousing on the internet. I just think it’s kind of funny. You know, he’s not playing King Lear. It’s Batman! [That's] certainly within his skill set. If anybody saw ‘Argo’ or ‘The Town,’ and all the work he’s been doing lately, it’s way more nuanced and interesting and way more difficult than Batman! Batman just sits there with his cowl over his head and whispers in a kinda gruff voice at people. Bruce Wayne is the more challenging part of the role, and Ben will be great at that."
One thing that puzzles me is that many die hard Batman fans also share the same sentiment... Bruce Wayne is the more challenging part of the role. I have to disagree.
What's difficult about playing a millionaire playboy with a tragic upbringing and a dark secret? I'm not saying it's a walk in the park to play but it's hardly the stretch from reality that Batman is.
Not only do you have to convince everyone that dressing as a giant bat is a valid crime fighting outfit that's going to scare criminals, you then have to come across as a force of nature and a brilliant detective... brains and the brawn all in one person.
On top of that, no one is going to see the movie to see how Ben play's Bruce Wayne. Something as inconsequential as 'nipples on the Batsuit', or a gravelly, almost unintelligible voice can kill anything else that was really good about that version of Batman.
You know, the first time Ben's on screen as Batman everyone is going to be dialed right in waiting to hear him speak. I really hope he's been getting advice from Kevin Conroy, a fan favorite Batman voice from many animated incarnations of Batman. Listen to what Kevin had to say about Christian Bale's Batman voice in the video below.
It's said that Kevin elaborated further by saying the suit was inspired by comic book artist, Jim Lee's version of the suit (however this was bleeped out on the podcast recording). Which I take to mean it's probably a grey and black suit more like the comics and not likely the blue and grey suit (which looks great in a comic but a little cheesy in live action).
Anyway, getting back on track, if the suit's as good as Kevin says it is, all the pressure on Ben will be for the voice. Get that right and it'll all be down to the script and Ben's acting ability.
I suspect this article has become something of a ramble that's lost much of it's focus so I'll finish with this...
I liked George Clooney's Batman. Of all the Batman films so far, Batman and Robin is the one that is most friendly to a younger audience who didn't get to grow up with Adam West's Batman like I did. It's silly and over the top but it's also a lot of fun. However it's still not Batman.
Christian Bale wasn't even my Batman, though everything around him was very much how a Batman movie should be in my head.
After a few months of absorbing Ben's casting as Batman I'm no longer nervously optimistic. I'm just looking forward to seeing a new Batman that hopefully is different to any on screen Batman I've seen thus far.