Saturday, August 24, 2013

In Defense of Ben Affleck

None of the intellectual properties discussed below are mine, I have no ownership, claim or sponsorship and retain no rights beyond my own commentary.

"The Internet" exploded yesterday when Warner Brothers announced that the co-star of the next Superman/Man of Steel franchise would be none other than Wing Wearin', Argo-Directin', Lesbian Lovin' Ben Affleck. Hashtags like #betterthanbenaffleck and #benaffleck are still top trending this morning, and with good reason.

Batman and Superman have 75 years of portrayal behind them. Even with the top grossing film not made by James Cameron of all time coming out last summer, many would be pressed to tell you who Black Widow and Hawkeye are, however every kid who's ever seen a television knows what black ears and a cape, or blue tights and red briefs mean. Everyone loves Batman and Superman, and every fan, geek, nerd, and cosplayer has a very specific and meaningful (to them) opinion about their story and franchise. As someone who has at one time been all of the above, I fall into this category myself.

But here's the thing guys, and I want you to hear me out on this: We. Don't Get. A Vote.

Remember when this guy:
Got cast to be this guy:

And won the freaking Oscar?

Do you also remember when this happened?

For those not motivated to click, that link shows a fairly comprehensive collage of (pun intended) everyone loosing their minds. People HATED the idea that the pretty-boy star of Knight's Tale, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Brokeback Mountain would be touching their precious fandom and ruining The Joker. One blogger suggests "Johnny Deep," which, Porn Industry - if this hasn't happened yet, take note.  Point being, Heath Ledger shocked the world with how incredible his performance was. Honestly, there are days when I'm still pissed for hours that he died and can't make more movies.

But Claire, you say. Heath Ledger was a good actor. I mean, c'mon, Ben Affleck was DareDevil!!! Have you SEEN Surviving Christmas?

He loves that people remember this, by the way.

Yes. And Tom Hanks starred in Splash, James Earl Jones narrated Judge Dredd, and Robert DeNiro's work before the first Godfather movie was... well, it wasn't the The Godfather. Do you think any of those actors should have been limited by their early work?

Seriously. Look at the big climactic scene from splash, and tell me you can see him losing it over a volleyball 16 years later.

what's mermaid for "your hair's in my face?"

Moreover, anyone who thinks Ben Affleck isn't good actor has clearly never seen Chasing Amy, a fantastic film written and directed by Kevin Smith (and if you haven't seen it, go. Go now. Stop reading this blog, and go see that movie, because oh my god what are you doing with your life?). The film is also a good argument for Joey Laure Adams, Jason Lee - basically everyone in the film because Kevin Smith is amazing.

And since we're talking about amazing directors, let me point out that the man himself, Joss Whedon has endorsed Affleck as Batman, as has Kevin Smith. There are not bigger geeks in this world than those two, I checked. If they can get behind him, maybe give him a chance why not?

Incidentally, if anyone who reads this happens to know either or both of them, they should totally work together on something because it would make all the money ever. Just... all of it.

But there's a deeper issue here, one as old as reboots and franchise resets themselves, and that is the rabid, viral nature of fan ownership. Those of us who have followed a story or character for years, in some cases our whole lives, well, we're a little entitled. We feel like since we have such a personal stake in these characters that the franchise owners owe us, and are obligated to make us happy.

And now comes the part where I make the really unpopular point I've been heading towards: They're not.

So while I'm at it, let me say a few more unpopular things:

1) They're not making Firefly again, stop asking.
2) Man of Steel, judged on it's own merits, was quite good.
3) George Lucas has every right to do whatever he wants with his own intellectual property, and if you don't like it, don't buy it.

For anyone still with me, let me repeat that filmmakers, writers, and content creators are IN NO WAY obligated to make you happy. Tell me this: did you watch every episode of Buffy because you were laughing the whole time? Are you eagerly awaiting this year's Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special because you can't wait to see how the Tenth Doctor's Happy Ending is treating him? Did you see Revenge of the Sith because Attack of the Clones was such a stellar and fantastic film?

"Around the Survivors a perimeter create"? Come on.

But Claire, you say (again). These are good franchises! Their writers are amazing! Except Star Wars, but c'mon, it's freaking Star Wars!

Yeah, and this is freaking Batman vs. mofoin' SUPERMAN!!! And rumor has it they will be following this storyline, wherein hate on Affleck will be well deserved, but not because he's Ben Affleck. Actually, in a way, the casting was brilliant, because you're (spoiler alert) kinda supposed to hate him, at least if they follow the story above.

Maybe I will be proved wrong, and in 2015, I'll be writing about how much I hated this choice. But in the meantime, I'm going to wait, accept that this decision isn't about me, and well, just kinda move on with my life. Because seriously, new Doctor this Christmas. EPIC!!

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