“They put nipples on the batsuit. I didn’t know they would do that,” said Clooney in a classic understatement about the movie, which earned 11 Razzie nominations and was criticized for its homoerotic subtext.
Nothing against Ben; he’s a fine actor and obviously a solid director as well. Check last year’s “Argo.”
But he’s more like Clooney than Christian Bale, whose stunning performances in the Christopher Nolan “Batman” trilogy, defined Batman for all time.
Then, again, Batman has never really gotten much respect on the big- or small-screen. The character has been miscast in films and television going back to a paunchy Adam West as Batman in the 1960s television series and 1966 film. At least he played a camp version. The show parodied the comic book.
Director Tim Burton got into the act in the 1980s and gave Batman his first serious treatment in film. But he also monumentally miscast comedic actor Michael Keaton as Batman. Fans were not happy, and Keaton was ridiculous.
Fortunately, Jack Nicolson, who played The Joker, stole–and saved–the movie. The film grossed more than $400 million and turned Batman into a hot commodity. Burton portrayed Batman as a dark and brooding character, setting the trend for future productions.
The movie was successful enough to merit a sequel, “Batman Returns” with Keaton again leading the cast. But Burton wisely chose strong co-stars as well. Michelle Pfeiffer played Cat Woman, while Danny DeVito stole the movie as the Penguin.
The movie pulled in $163 million against an $80 million production cost, setting the stage for a third “Batman” movie. But this one changed course again. Warner Bros. replaced Burton with Director Joel Schumacher, who was ordered to create more of a “mainstream” movie.
Keaton didn’t like the direction of the film and dropped out. He was replaced by Val Kilmer, a pretty boy, who didn’t bring much credibility to the role, either. Batman was once again reduced to playing a foil.
Over-the-top performances by Jim Carrey as The Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones as villain Two-Face, turned the film into a huge $350 million hit.
Warner Bros. went to the well one more time with Clooney as Batman. But he lacked a strong supporting cast, with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy and Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl.
The resulting “Batman & Robin was a critical and financial disaster. It was the most expensive Batman film ever with a $125 million production cost, yet only grossed $238 million worldwide, according to boxofficemojo.
“Man of Steel,” another dark, brooding take on a superhero, has earned $649 million worldwide so far this year, making it an unqualified success and sequel worthy.
Affleck will star opposite Henry Cavill, who will reprise his role as Superman. Zack Synder will direct, with a 2015 release date scheduled. In the movie, Superman will battle Batman, which seems odd since both are crimefighters.
Silverman called Affleck “an extraordinary actor” whose Batman will bear “the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.