LOST: The Heart of the Island

The Heart of the Island
It’s been ten years to the day since LOST first premiered. At the time, it was a revolutionary show and an important turning point in the history of television. But television has continued evolving since then, with many shows reaching a level of plot intricacy and character development the likes of which most full-fledged movies can’t even dream of. Yet even in this post-Game of Thrones, post-Breaking Bad world, LOST still holds up as one of my favourite shows of all time. It had an extra ingredient that today’s highly cerebral shows seem to overlook: heart.
I don’t think that’s the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they think about LOST and its popularity. After all, it’s a show that was driven by mysteries and cliffhangers and was famous for it. When every episode presented viewers with more tantalizing questions than answers, fans were not only compelled to return the following week, but also to spend the time between episodes discussing and endlessly speculating. At a time when Internet communities were young and ever-growing, the experience of online fandom for a show that was tailor-made for the age of message boards was incredibly rewarding.
LOST was also a great show on its own merits. It had compelling characters and an ever-intriguing story. Its use of nonlinear narration and creative narrative devices, especially from the fourth season onward, was nothing short of genius. And despite wading into the realm of science fiction and fantasy rather slowly in the first three seasons, eventually it took a sharp dive into the genre and truly hit its stride. Watching the writers throw all sorts of crazy ideas at the viewers and actually pull them off was all sorts of fun.
So yes, all these things do set LOST apart from most of the shows that came before it as well as after it. But while rewatching the series this past month, I realized that the key element that held it all together, through the polar bears and the smoke monsters, the time traveling and four-toed statue, was the show’s characters and its heart.
Compared to today’s world of antiheroes and love-to-hate-them characters on television, LOST seems to come from an entirely different age of storytelling, despite being only a decade old. While today’s most acclaimed stories are focused on corruption, LOST focused on redemption. In lieu of making us grow to hate the protagonists, LOST made sure that we came to love the antagonists. Instead of depicting deteriorating friendships and family ties, LOST was a show about the strengthening bonds that a group of strangers came to share.
The mysteries would ultimately have been a meaningless gimmick if the viewers didn’t care enough about the characters and their relationships, their adventures and their ultimate fate, all the way from the pilot to the finale. A finale that, as you probably surmised from this post, I believe is a perfect ending to a unique and eternally memorable show.

X-Men: Past and Future

14 years ago, it was a dark time for comic book movies. The Superman film series had been dead since 1987. The Batman franchise that Tim Burton began in 1989 was dealt a deadly blow with 1997’s Batman and Robin. The latest comic book movie to be released—and the first serious film to be based on a Marvel character—was Blade in 1998, and that was hardly a tentpole franchise. And that was pretty much it. Comic book films were so sparse that no two comic book film series existed concurrently. Compared with today, in which no less than four separate comic book films are being released in the same year, it was a complete drought.
This all changed in July of 2000 with the release of X-Men. The Bryan Singer-helmed adaptation combined the then-novel approach of actually taking the source material seriously with a sense of amazement and enjoyment at actually seeing these different superheroes and their powers come to life to deliver the movie that fans wanted. Of course, looking back from our post-Christopher Nolan and Marvel Studios world, we can see that X-Men didn’t take the comics as seriously as it could have (“What would you prefer? Yellow spandex?”), but it was a huge step up at the time, and it was clear the days of Batman and Robin were behind us.
However, comic book movies and blockbusters in general have evolved in the past 14 years, going through several phases: the awkward initial post-X-Men phase (from 2000 to 2007) that included the original X-Men and Spider-Man trilogies as well as Fantastic Four and other such less successful attempts, followed by the “gritty reboot” phase (from 2005-2012) that was defined by Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and finally the Marvel Studios phase (from 2008 until today) that led up to The Avengers, after which comic book films seem to have at last found a balanced and solid identity. And the X-Men films have been there from the very beginning, as the only franchise that rode the waves of change, without rebooting or rebranding, but—if you’ll forgive the pun—by mutating and adapting, to varying degrees of success.
The greatest such success, to me, was 2011’s X-Men: First Class. Where Bryan Singer’s original X-Men films tried to walk a tightrope between dark realism and fun silliness, First Class adapted Marvel Studios’ recent policy of shamelessly embracing the source material in content and in tone to deliver possibly the most enjoyable entry until that point. The yellow costumes were back. The villain had a submarine lair. Gone were the days of the early 2000s when superhero movies would hide behind the ‘action film’ genre instead of being a genre unto themselves, and First Class eased the X-Men films’ transition into this new era.
Unfortunately, with a series that ran so long and survived an ever-changing landscape, there was a lack of consistent quality and an absence of a unified vision for the pre-First Class films. This was in part due to studios like 20th Century Fox having little faith in the comic book genre, something that was symptomatic of the early 2000s, yet is unheard of in the modern post-Avengers era of superhero films. The lack of a focused vision also allowed inconsistencies to appear, especially in terms of continuity. The films were starting to get as muddled and convoluted as the comics! At that point, the series could either continue down this shaky path, or fix the problem through the ever-popular reboot. But it isn’t so simple to reboot a franchise like X-Men. Not only did it launch the modern wave of superhero films, with a huge, talented, and memorable cast across half a dozen films, but it had just been given a brand new breath of life with First Class.
And yet, First Class was considered by many people to be a fresh start for the series, so if a hard reboot was not viable, perhaps a soft reboot could instead solve the problem. All that was left was to explicitly press the reset button and launch the franchise anew. Luckily, one of the best-reviewed X-Men comic arcs of all time was 1983’s Days of Future Past, a time travel story that when adapted into movie form would be exactly what the films needed: a way to bring the past and the future together in one film, thus bridging the gap between them and weaving all the separate stories into a cohesive whole, before wiping the slate clean. This sort of retcon is the kind of plot device Marvel comic books have been famous for utilizing many times in the past in order to resolve plot discrepancies or simply to refresh its titles, so it makes perfect sense for it to be used in a Marvel-based film for once.
However, one of the best things about the X-Men: Days of Future Past film is that it served more than just this one function. Not only does it present a new beginning for future X-Men movies in the form of a new and completely blank timeline, but it serves as an excellent conclusion for the past films of the old timeline as well. Viewers could watch all of the seven currently existing films and only those and still experience a self-contained story with a well-defined and satisfying conclusion. Alternatively, new audiences who’d never seen an X-Men film before could jump directly into the new timeline with First Class and Days of Future Past and enjoy the upcoming films. In that regard, the legacy of the original films is respected even though their events are overwritten, and the franchise as a whole is given a fresh dose of longevity.
So, now that the X-Men series has been revitalized and proved that it’s here to stay and hasn’t been left behind by the evolution of the genre, what’s the next move? We know the next film will take place in the 1980s, but the long-term plans remain a mystery. We don’t know if the newly created future timeline will be revisited for new entries—all signs seem to indicate that it’s reached its end—or indeed if Wolverine will still be in the main series going forward. But I do know that this is an exciting time for fans of these films. To paraphrase the last lines of Days of Future Past, the past is a now a new and uncertain world of endless possibilities and infinite outcomes. And the future is never truly set.

On Brian Wood and Sexism in the Geek World

Because Anthony Weiner’s Name Wasn’t Punny Enough

Today, I’m going to talk about a topic that I’ve avoided discussing for quite a while. The main reason for my silence stems from my wish to focus on the more positive aspects of geek culture (with some exceptions), and this is one subject that shines a harsh light on an appalling and undesirable side of it. But this week’s developments drove home the fact that this particular problem’s best friend is silence—not just of the involved parties, but also of members of this culture who should be spreading awareness rather than sitting idly by and accepting the sad reality. The issue is sexism in the comic book industry. Of course, sexism—or at the very least female under-representation and objectification—is present in the world at large, and it is particularly rampant in the geek world as a whole, from movies to video games. But oh boy, would that make for one long post. Which is why, at least for the time being, I’m going to focus my attention mostly (though not necessarily exclusively) on the comic book business, considering the events of this past week, which I will get to in a bit.
Harley Quinn, before and after her ‘gritty reboot’.
Harley Quinn Reboot

It’s no secret that the comic book world, much like the video game world, is primarily male-driven and male-oriented. Everything from female characters’ outrageous outfits to their exaggerated proportions and impossible poses on posters and covers practically screams male pandering. Take the infamous Brokeback Pose, a popular spine-bending stance that allows female characters to display their butt and their breasts and their face all at the same time (kudos to The Hobbit for turning that around with one of its recent posters). For a humourous take on that issue, I recommend you look up the Hawkeye Initiative. A more specific demonstration of this problem is DC’s recent talent contest, which required applicants to submit a drawing of Harley Quinn looking sexy while committing suicide in a bathtub. Speaking of DC, the authors of the Batwoman series quit in September after they were told to alter several storylines, including a long-running arc that was to result in Batwoman’s lesbian marriage. On the surface, this seems to have more to do with gay rights than sexism, but look at it this way: it’s perfectly OK to have a lesbian couple—after all, men find lesbians hot, right?—but God forbid they actually explore the non-sexual aspects of a lesbian relationship, like actual love and all that icky, mushy stuff.

True, comic books were always traditionally viewed as a medium for young males, but the times are changing, especially now that geeks are no longer ostracized. Yet even with the recent influx of female readers, the industry has not changed its methods from the days when comic books were targeted at a niche male audience. This crippling failure to adapt has led to a lot of problems. We all knew that. Problems as serious as sexual harassment, though? That’s new. And not just your run-of-the-mill convention floor pestering of cosplayers, mind you (but isn’t it tragic that those are considered run-of-the-mill?). I’m talking about actual, respected professionals within the comic book industry harassing women—both within and outside the business—and using their standing in the publishing hierarchy as both a means to enable this behaviour and a shell to protect them from consequences.
Brian WoodEnter Brian Wood. He is an established and respected comic book creator currently writing a Star Wars comic book series for Dark Horse, as well as the new X-Men series for Marvel—notable for having an all-female X-Men lineup. This is actually one of the reasons he was perceived as a feminist, a notion seemingly enforced by his public and online behaviour. Which makes the hypocrisy of what happened next all the more distressing. The long and short of it is that illustrator Tess Fowler, apparently prompted by a separate Twitter discussion that accused Brian Wood of faux-feminism, brought to light an incident that took place at San Diego Comic Con in 2007. She claimed that Wood (who she notes was married with a pregnant wife at the time) feigned interest in her work as an artist and asked her to his hotel room under the pretense of discussing her art. She did not acquiesce, and the next day, he allegedly loudly accused her of standing him up in front of convention attendees, as well as privately mocking both her art and the fact that she was in costume. Fowler also said that she had been silent about it for a long time, but that she’d heard far too many accounts about Wood’s inappropriate behaviour from other distressed women to keep quiet any longer. As the accusation went public, Wood released a minimum-accountability statement in which he admitted making a pass at Fowler but did not mention the rest of the accusations (a non-apology if there ever was one).
What followed next was a slew of opinion pieces, blog posts, and most importantly, anecdotes from other women who also experienced harassment or at the very least objectification in the comic book world, at the hands of Wood (yes, apparently Fowler was not his first or last victim) as well as others, both professionals and fans alike. It was really a you-had-to-have-been-there sort of thing, witnessing the story develop from a single tweet to a bunch of testimonials, some of which had been fearfully kept private for years. For an excellent resource on how this story developed and snowballed, I encourage you to check out this awesome, very comprehensive, and regularly updated post, at least to better understand why I’m so worked up about it.
Not Batman’s finest hour. Yet attitudes have barely changed in over 70 years.
Batman Spank
It was not the story itself that prompted me to write this post, but the fact that it is symptomatic of a larger problem that has gone on for far too long in the comic book industry, as evidenced by the dozens of other similar stories that followed Fowler breaking the dam, so to speak. It’s not like I wasn’t aware of problems such as this before, but it’s not stopping, and I’m way past my tipping point. The stories themselves are disheartening enough; the response from a sizable chunk of the male fanbase was so much worse. The comments varied from apathetic (“Thing is I/we don’t care and this just sounds like whining.”) to ignorant (“Well, first get women interested in comics and the rest will come. Don’t blame men for what women don’t want.”) to downright offensive (“The whole point of low-level things is they ought to be ignored […] Men should not spend their lives obsessing over how to please the most fragile and insecure women in the world […] and they also need to stop running to defend every women who finds a man to complain about […] the feminists run in to ruin one industry after another with women whining about sexism […] My advice is for her to GET OVER IT!”). This comic, though not made for this actual occasion, succinctly sums up that reaction, and at the same time offers great insight into the state of things and why they got so bad. This whole debacle, both the actions of the perpetrators and the reaction of the onlookers, has left me disillusioned with this culture that I otherwise cherish with all my heart.
Geek Girl MemeIt’s very sad that in the geek realm, women are still seen as the intruders. When men see a woman at a convention, a lot of them will immediately assume she’s there to accompany her boyfriend or husband, and not of her own volition (Amy Ratcliffe briefly shares a similar story as part of this early episode of the Full of Sith podcast, for example). The ‘fake geek girl’ accusation gets thrown around a lot, and girls need to somehow ‘prove themselves’ in ways guys do not—a situation that, when you turn it around, looks absolutely ridiculous. Even Felicia Day, who has more geek cred than most people I know of, was once called “a glorified booth babe”. What’s funny about it is that women nowadays take up a large part of the geek world, and they are arguably more passionate than most of us. Think of how much box office revenue Thor: The Dark World owes to Loki fangirls! Would the new Doctor Who series have taken off so well without its vast female audience? Would Sherlock ever have gained mainstream popularity? And it’s not just fangirls—for instance, more than half of my personal Twitter list of geek personalities, bloggers, and journalists comprises female members. Quickly skimming the list I can name Felicia Day, Ashley Eckstein, Bonnie Burton, Melissa Anelli, Amy Ratcliffe, Dunc, Tricia Barr… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Not to mention my real-life friends,  not all of whom are geeks, but the majority of those who are are female. And yet, mysteriously, none of that seems to matter.
Reed Richards: biggest douche in comics, actually represents some mentalities in the industry.
Douchebag Reed
I had hoped that these problems did not extend to the professional side of things, but let’s face it, comics are written for geeks by geeks. Any woman who wants to enter that world must ‘learn to play with the big boys’, a phrase I saw in the majority of the aforementioned anecdotes. Sadly, ‘playing with the big boys’ includes things like politely going along with creepy flirtatious jokes (“If I seemed shocked or uncomfortable with “good-natured joking”, I would be seen as boring, someone with no sense of fun that couldn’t hang with the cool kids.”), not complaining when inappropriately groped by a big name creator (“He’s known for that”), and even feeling as though they’d done something wrong when refusing the advances of a married man. Needless to say, some lose patience and quit the business. Others lose faith and don’t even bother trying to enter it. And the ones who make it are sidelined as collaborators waiting forever for their big break, which rarely ever comes. For reference, take this list of writers of DC’s New 52 and notice that only two out of the sixty-five writers listed are female—one of whom is big name Gail Simone, who’s been at this for many years. Think of all the talent that was stifled because of this attitude, and of all the great stories we could have gotten in a better world.
What’s the solution? Well, first off, I do not advocate boycotting Brian Wood’s work, because these things often backfire. If Marvel notices a drop in sales of their current X-Men title, with the way the industry works, they will most likely not see the Brian Wood connection, and instead attribute the loss of readership to lack of interest in an all-female superhero team, which is the opposite of the message we should be pushing. Remember when Elektra under-performed at the box office? Studios assumed it’s because of it having a female lead (instead of, you know, it being a bad movie), and now, a decade and a half into the current superhero movie era, nobody has yet dared to greenlight a Wonder Woman movie, or any superheroine film for that matter.
Reed Richards strikes again!
(See what I did there?)
Shut Up Sue
What makes it even worse is that women can’t even talk about it. Literally every woman who’s come forth in the past week has noted that her story took place years earlier but has been kept private due to a mixture of embarrassment and fear. And even after speaking up, they are met with skepticism, and even offensive comments. Heck, when Anita Sarkeesian published her very sensible and obviously truthful Tropes vs Women in Video Games video series, she was met with intense vitriol, including aggression—someone even made a ‘Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian’ Flash game—and she naturally disabled her comments section. Even her recent remark about the lack of female protagonists in next-gen games was not without disgusting backlash. So much for intelligent discourse. This is bad, because the real solution to the issue is making noise. Women with these stories should speak up. Men should stand firmly—and audibly—behind them. Staying silent in the face of these issues, or, as much as I’d like to, pretending they don’t exist, is only making it worse, so long as offences go unpunished. Most importantly, comic book companies, especially big houses like Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse, should not let it slide and hope it blows over, because it will pop up again. Failure to have any sort of consequence will only ensure that this behaviour thrives. Sadly, the perpetrators themselves have dominance over the status quo. They are the ‘big boys’ and they call the shots, if not always directly.
Enough is enough. I want to take back my fandom. I want the geek culture to be an open and welcoming one, like I always envisioned it. Geeks have been described as kids who couldn’t grow up. I always took that as a compliment, taking pride in my reticence of the wide-eyed innocence of youth and enchantment by all things spectacular. Unfortunately, while some of us are enjoying an extended stay in harmless childhood, others are eternally trapped in their immature, juvenile, and hormonal teenage years (with “ew, cooties” being the only leftover from prepubescence). And to those people, I say the thing that I myself hate being told: grow up. I don’t want to live in a world where my favourite things are made by disrespectful bullies and lust-driven man-children. It’s so wonderful that being a geek is more popular now than it has ever been, with all sorts of diverse people flocking to us, so please, let’s clean up the house and leave the front doors wide open.
PS: You may have noticed that this post has many outgoing links. I urge you to check them out, because I am certainly not alone in the way I feel about these issues. Much has been said by all sorts of people, especially in the past year, and it’s definitely a topic that’s worth reading up on.

Beasts of the Wizard Wild

Note: due to my entire weekend having been taken up by Montreal Comic Con, this week’s posts will be delayed by a couple of days each. In other words, the new blog post—this one—is being posted today, on Wednesday, while the new comic will be posted on Friday instead.
In a span of only two months, I’ve twice woken up to an out-of-the-blue J. K. Rowling-related bombshell. First, there was the announcement that Jo had written and published a brand new novel under our unsuspecting noses (read my thoughts on that story here). The second bit of news came less than a week ago, and it was equally unexpected and perhaps even more exciting: Jo Rowling will both return to the world of Harry Potter and make her debut as a screenwriter in a new film series based on the in-universe textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Return to the wizarding world

diagon-alleyBefore I even get into why I’m very optimistic about this project: I have 3 words to say: more Harry Potter. If you’re a fan of the series, much like Star Wars fans with Episode VII, how could you not be excited about this? And if you’re not a fan, go read the books, because it’s impossible to not fall in love with them. The mere fact that we’re returning to this universe after we thought we’d said goodbye to it should be enough to spark anyone’s interest—even though it’s the world, not the characters, that we’re returning to. Which brings me to my next point.

The Harry Potter series can still stand alone

harry-potter-booksI have always been against a continuation of the Harry Potter series, aside from tidbits given out in interviews or on Pottermore, because I believe the seven books and/or 8 films work as a self-contained story that requires no sequels or prequels (despite my having written unpublished fanfiction as an early teen, but let’s keep that between ourselves). This project, however, promises to take us back to the world we loved without messing with the main story and characters of the original series, since it follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, who wrote Fantastic Beasts seven decades before the events of Harry Potter. That means neither series is burdened by the other, and you can still enjoy one even if you dislike the other.

Some characters from the Harry Potter series could reappear

dumbledoreThis may sound like it contradicts what I just said, but I don’t think any of us would mind it if Dumbledore or some other character who would have been around at the time (even characters who weren’t main players in the series, like Grindelwald) were to appear in these movies, just as long as the films don’t turn into cameo-filled fanservice and still function alone properly. After all, Rowling herself recently admitted that Dumbledore was the character she missed writing the most.

This is new canon

RowlingThe best part about Jo Rowling writing this series is the fact that it constitutes actual Harry Potter universe canon. For those of us who’ve been devouring the new material released through Pottermore, this is especially exciting. I also find it interesting that the series will actually be canon common to both the Harry Potter books and the movies, entities that are not canon with each other. It’s a strange but intriguing concept. Another plus of Jo writing them is: the films won’t be an adaptation of previously existing source material, which means no purist complaints!

Discover the wider wizarding world

hogsmeadeOne of Rowling’s strengths as a world-builder was her ability to hint at a fully functional, deeply intricate universe outside the scope of her story, which was limited to 1990s Britain. However, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will begin in New York seventy years prior to the events of Harry Potter. This means that not only will we get to see other areas—other countries—of the wizarding world, we will also get to see it in a completely different era. Wizards in 1920s New York? Yes please! And that’s only the beginning. The textbook contains several creatures from many different cultures, many of which I’m sure will be visited.

More magical creatures

buckbeakAnyone who’s read the books or seen the movies knows there’s a ton of amazing magical creatures packed into the story—and everyone who’s read the Fantastic Beasts textbook knows that it’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you thought Buckbeak or the dragon in Deathly Hallows looked great on screen, just wait till you see manticores and chimeras, erumpents and lethifolds (and hopefully even more dragons). It will restore that sense of enchantment that the earlier films had before the series turned darker.
I find it rather amusing that Warner Bros., faced with the end of Nolan’s Batman films and the Harry Potter movies, sought the only solution they could think of—bring them back. That aside, I’m very much looking forward to this. The Rowling fan and film nerd in me can’t wait to witness Jo’s foray into screenwriting. More than that, though, we will return to the world we know and love for a set of new adventures that will widen our knowledge of that universe in wondrous and exciting ways. We could end up with a wizarding world equivalent of Indiana Jones—a string of movies in the format of a serial adventure following a man going around the world searching for magical creatures and the hijinx he gets into along the way. Additionally, if this endeavour is successful, it could open the door to many other spin-off stories that expand the world of Harry Potter without endangering the integrity of the original story. Quidditch Through the Ages? The Tales of Beedle the Bard? Something entirely new? Only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure: with the return of Star WarsLord of the Rings, and Harry Potter, as well as the incredible lineup of movies slated for release in the coming few years, it’s a great time to be a geek.

Let’s Talk Batman

Part Two: On ‘Batfleck’

Affleck George Reeves
Last week, I laid out my thoughts about the upcoming Superman/Batman crossover film, detailing my concerns based on my less than enthusiastic feelings about Man of Steel‘s direction. This week, I will cover a controversial news item that has caused naysayers to amp up their skepticism and once-believers to begin doubting the project—yet one that had the opposite effect on me: Ben Affkeck’s casting as Batman. While the rest of the world reacted with fervent negativity, my initial reaction upon hearing the news was intrigue, followed by cautious optimism bordering on genuine excitement. And there are several reasons why.

Heath Ledger

heath-ledger-jokerBefore we get into justifying why Ben Affleck may or may not be a good choice for Batman, let us first take a stroll down memory lane in order to remember how misleading initial gut reactions can be, especially when it comes to casting iconic comic book characters. For example, today, Heath Ledger’s chameleon-like turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight is universally praised as possibly the best portrayal of a comic book character—and one of the best performances, period—of all time. But when the news of Ledger’s casting first broke in 2006, fans were less than happy to hand over such a major role to the handsome star of romantic comedies and a gay cowboy drama. That’s putting it mildly; in fact, they were livid. Seemingly forgetting Ledger’s recent manic performance in Lords of Dogtown, or the fact that Brokeback Mountain was a remarkably well-received film which earned Ledger an Oscar nomination, the majority of Batman fandom went into a frenzy—one rife with gay ‘jokes’ that were just as quickly overused in 2006 as J. J. Abrams lens flare quips are today (but infinitely more offensive). We all know how that turned out (the terms ‘posthumous Oscar’ and ‘fan favourite’ come into play). Similarly, when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman for the 1989 Tim Burton adaptation, fans were equally outraged that the comedic star of Mr. Mom and Beetlejuice was donning the cape and the cowl. Today, he is still considered in some circles the best live-action Batman, with many fans even requesting he return to the role instead of Ben Affleck. Just food for thought.

It’s not 2003 anymore

Surviving Christmas PosterThe public’s distaste with Ben Affleck stems largely from the 2000-2004 era during which he starred in so many movies that audiences had begun to grow tired of him—especially since most of those movies (Pearl Harbor, Jersey Girl, Paycheck, Surviving Christmas, and the infamous Gigli) were not considered very good. But that time period is only a fraction of an otherwise long and successful career, one that includes good performances in well-received films such as Good Will Hunting, Chasing Amy (in which he plays a comic book artist, by the way), Hollywoodland, and especially The Town and Argo, both of which he personally directed. In fact, in the last several years, Affleck has positively flourished as a fantastic director (so much that his lack of a Best Director Oscar nomination for Argo caused such an even bigger outrage than his casting as Batman, which probably contributed to Argo winning the 2013 Academy Award for Best Picture). I will discuss what this means for the DC film universe later, but for now, his handling of these performance-driven films clearly shows that he at least has an eye for good acting.

Daredevil doesn’t count

daredevil-poster“Ah,” you may say, “but Heath Ledger and Michael Keaton were new to the comic book genre. We’ve seen Affleck try to be a comic book hero and fail to impress, in Daredevil. That means my reservations of him as Batman are justified.” That is flawed logic for several reasons. First of all, Daredevil is literally a decade old, and Affleck has evolved since then. Secondly, ‘comic book character’ is not a category of performances; Daredevil and Batman are two separate characters, regardless of genre. There is no indication Affleck will play both characters the same way. Thirdly, Daredevil‘s failure cannot be placed solely on Affleck’s shoulders. It takes more than a single performance to destroy a movie, and I find that its direction and writing (and, most likely, studio interference) are far more culpable in this case. Finally, if we were to judge every actor by their past movies, nobody would get cast, ever. Even Robert DeNiro had bad performances, but he’s no less credible today than when he was when he won his second Oscar. Heck, even Jon Favreau costarred in Daredevil; imagine how differently Iron Man—and, subsequently, the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe—would have turned out if he’d been rejected to direct it because of that. (Funnily enough, the fan favourite to take on the role before Affleck was cast was Josh Brolin, who had previously starred in the even more reviled adaptation of the comic book Jonah Hex).

He will make an excellent Bruce Wayne

I have no idea how Affleck will fare as Batman, but it isn’t difficult to imagine him as Bruce Wayne at all. You needn’t even look at his body of work; he has so much in common with Wayne (the comic book version more so than Christian Bale’s interpretation) that he just has to play himself.

Affleck can lend his directorial talents to this project (and possibly more)

Affleck DirectingPlease, dear Lord, let it be so. Don’t get me wrong; I do not dislike Zack Snyder. In fact, Watchmen is one of my favourite comic book films of all time. But I’ve mentioned before that I’ve disagreed with his handling of Man of Steel, and I’m worried that the sequel will follow in its footsteps. This is why I’m hoping that having Ben Affleck—the guy who won an Oscar for writing and swept the 2013 Best Director awards in almost all major ceremonies except the Oscars—on board means that he’ll maybe influence the script and the directing in some small way. Speaking of which, there has also been speculation that Warner Bros. could be attempting to lure Ben Affleck into the DC fold to have him direct any possible rebooted Batman solo fims, or perhaps the upcoming Justice League movie. After all, Warner Bros. do love to make strong connections with their directors (think Christopher Nolan), and Affleck already proved his dependability to WB with Argo. If that’s the case, this can only be a good thing. Can you imagine how great a new Batman trilogy would be with Ben Affleck behind the director’s chair?
In fact, my only regret regarding Affleck’s casting as Batman is the possibility that tying him to this franchise for a long-term period might force him to cancel some directing projects he has lined up, such as the adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand, which I was personally looking forward to. He is a great talent as a director, and the mere possibility of not having some Affleck-directed films heading our way in the near future is a disappointment. And I won’t lie; I was a bit curious about the possibility of having someone like Josh Brolin or John Hamm as Batman. Despite that, at this point (before any trailers, official stills, or footage), I think Ben Affleck is a good choice. And you know he has the jawline for it.