For a second I thought about making an article with that title and just posting a picture of Ben Affleck and call it a day, but that would be mean. The truth is, I was hating on this yet-to-be-released film (which I recognize is absurd) way before good ol’ Ben was announced to don the cape and cowl. When I went to Comic-Con in San Diego this past summer, Warner Bros. first announced that Man of Steel 2 would feature Batman and be loosely inspired by the seminal The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. Whereas a lot of fans in the audience and other Con-goers seemed to love the idea, I first thought “That’s really cool!”, leading to “Man, Warner Bros. sucks” a second later.
To get this out of the way, I am not going to review Man of Steel and talk about why it was good/not good. All I’ll say is that I really enjoyed the film and everything it did to set up for a sequel. Like Batman Begins, Man of Steel for me was a thoughtful, promising look into Superman and everything about his character. That’s the main reason why I began to cringe and curse when I found out Batman will be in Man of Steel 2. Say what you will, but I think the inclusion of Batman will only take away from Superman’s character and everything that Man of Steel the first tried to accomplish. Clark now has to share screen time AND screen story with Bruce, so matter how you think about it, Clark’s own personal story will have to suffer because of the added major character. We got hints of Lex Luthor, kryptonite, Supergirl, and Clark Kent the Daily Planet reporter. Now you’re telling me they have to include Batman, a huge, complex character, into a new film with all of that in only 2 years? Don’t get me wrong, I love Batman a lot, but HE HAD HIS OWN TRILOGY! Why can’t Clark own his own set of movies without Bruce having to swoop in and share screen time? Man of Steel was controversial for sure, but it showed that DC and Warner Bros. could maintain him on the silver screen. The way the first movie set up for a new story with more Daily Planet, more Clark Kent in glasses, more secret identity balance, more complex villains was only heading to a smarter and interesting direction, turning Man of Steel 2 into a modern Superman movie that would have felt more familiar and thus, more enjoyable to a wider audience. I think some of the “modern” and unique direction that Zack Snyder and team took with Man of Steel drove away some old fans and new fans, but it was all looking to create a better balance of the familiar mythos and a fresh interpretation with the sequel. Even if this new film is supposed to be loosely inspired by The Dark Knight Returns, the point is that story is a Batman story, not a Superman one, and I fear that a lot of the heart and character of Superman that we saw in the first film will now be lost because he’s going to be too busy worrying about Bruce Wayne.
This all leads to the idea that DC and Warner Bros. have a Batman problem, which really just means that they can’t let go of Batman as their #1 money-maker. And I guess it’s hard to blame them, since Batman has appeared in more movies, comics, TV shows, games, and really all kinds of media more than any other superhero in the past decade. Batman is dark, interesting, tough, funny; more than a testament to his character, what matters is the fact that creators are just able to more easily create compelling stories about Batman. But that’s part of the problem! DC has taken very little risks, and sometimes when they do, they abandon ship at the first sign of failure. I understand that people need money, but this is Superman for Pete’s sake, he’s the original boy in blue tights! There is no doubt that including Batman in Man of Steel 2 will make the movie a bigger cash cow than it would have been originally, but to sacrifice what could have been a new purely Superman franchise seems like a waste to me.
Okay, okay, so let’s say we’re now fine with the idea that Man of Steel 2 will basically be Batman vs. Superman. I’m not going to lie, I’m going to be a giddy little nerd boy the moment I see Batman and Superman on the same screen, in the same movie, at the same time.
BUT NOW YOU’RE TELLING ME BATMAN IS GOING TO BE PLAYED BY BEN AFFLECK?!?!?!
Yes, just like every other nerd in existence, I too was furious and confused by the casting of Ben Affleck for Bruce Wayne/Batman. There is speculation that someone wants Mr. Affleck to direct a Justice League movie, and of course Mr. Affleck will not direct a movie that he is not also acting in, so thus, we have a Batman. But really, he had to be Batman? He couldn’t be Aquaman or the new Hal Jordan or even Booster Gold? We’ve seen outrage like this before with Heath Ledger as Joker, but I was not mad at all about that, and Ben is different because he tried to be a superhero already. Yeah, Daredevil suffered from a good script/story/everything, but Ben Affleck’s performance didn’t really help the movie at all. I can see Ben being a brooding, take-no-shit Bruce Wayne, but I can’t really see him under the cape and cowl fighting thugs (and Superman no less) and being acrobatic.
But that’s what we have to deal with. I know, it’s pointless to criticize a movie before it has even been released, but as you all have come to know, I love Superman very dearly. His impact on me is what I want other people to experience, whether that’s through film, book, or what have you. With the direction Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. are going with Man of Steel 2, I can’t help but feel disappointed again that yet another Superman story might fall short of inspiring people like stories in the past have inspired me. I always like to stay optimistic, and I’m waiting for 2015 movies as much as the rest of the world, but for now, this film has lost my excitement.