George Clooney telling you not to play Batman is like your parents telling you not to stick a fork in an electrical outlet. Of course, you’re going to do it, and the results are predictably devastating.
Clooney recently disclosed he warned Ben Affleck not to take the Batman role in Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, presumably because the (alleged) travesty that was Batman and Robin fell squarely on his shoulders.
I will argue, to this day, that if the Batsuit were not equipped with a nefarious set of nipples, Batman and Robin would be widely regarded as Joel Schumacher’s masterpiece
I was reading an article recently about The Phantom Menace, another (alleged) cinematic travesty. The article describes a scenario in which objectively bad films are often looked upon favorably by those who grew up with it, as a foundational piece of their childhood. My relationship with Batman and Robin does not stray far from this hypothesis, and I will argue, to this day, that if the Batsuit were not equipped with a nefarious set of nipples, Batman and Robin would be widely regarded as Joel Schumacher’s masterpiece.
All kidding aside, incredibly underrated was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze. Disregarding all of the ice/snow/winter-themed puns (as great as they all are), Arnold delivered a performance with some discernible depth.
In a movie that was otherwise entirely hollow, devoid of literally any personality, any emotion, the definition of camp realized in actual, tangible form*, the plight of Victor Fries, his mission to cure his terminally-ill wife, is something that subverts common criticism: Batman and Robin is not entirely irredeemable.
There was no doubt that if anyone was drawing asses to the seats in 1997, between Clooney and Arnold, it was Arnold
Referencing back to the first link, I find it interesting that Clooney bothers to reference the pay disparity between him and Arnold. Batman and Robin came out in 1997. Clooney’s biggest movie prior to Batman and Robin was, debatably, From Dusk till Dawn. And Arnold? He was proven a superstar. There was no doubt that if anyone was drawing asses to the seats in 1997, between Clooney and Arnold, it was Arnold (this might still be the case in 2019).
This lends to a broader argument regarding pay disparity in Hollywood, namely between the genders. It seems to be the popular sentiment that the apparent pay disparity in the film industry is the result of some subversive, sexist, patriarchal monster that operates entirely outside the realm of fairness. But if we examine the fact that Arnold was allegedly paid considerably more as Mr. Freeze than George Clooney as Batman and Robin’s title character, and in the context of history, that the Clooney in 1997 was not the Clooney we know now, then we can consider the possibility that compensation was not, and likely is not, determined by the role itself, but the by the potential capital an actor brings to a given film. However, this is another conversation for another time. I don’t think this was Clooney’s intention in mentioning how little he received to get dogged as debatably the worst Batman ever. No, his point was purely about getting dogged for being the worst Batman ever, in the worst Batman movie ever, and that in conjunction with his low pay, he was forced to reexamine his career trajectory.
This brings us back to Batfleck. I believe I’ve discussed in some detail in previous articles my feelings regarding Batfleck, the Snyder films, and my fears for what DC intends to do with the Caped Crusader moving forward.
The great tragedy is that Ben Affleck’s Batman wasn’t remotely bad, not at least in the way he portrayed the character and his alter ego (depending upon your perspective), Bruce Wayne
I firmly believe that as long as the Nolan films still lurk in the collective conscience of film fans, that the plight of another Batman series is futile if not for the potential promise of bankrolling. Again, one must contend with what he stands to gain and lose in undertaking such a project. My desire is not to regurgitate points made in previous articles.
Approaching this topic in this context is confusing. I am at once baffled by Clooney’s wisdom, which I never thought was much more than a projection in Casamigos ads, and also by Affleck’s apparent ignorance. Perhaps that’s too harsh. Wait…never mind. I wonder if Clooney made his recommendation because he, like the rest of us, knew that anything Snyder-related was destined to be as it is: bad. Or if he understood that the bar was set to high, that at this particular point in time, when they were filming Argo, with Dark Knight Rises not yet released, Clooney had the foresight and understanding to predict that recreating the success of the Dark Knight trilogy so shortly after the fact was an unachievable challenge. Either way, we reach the same end.
The great tragedy is that Ben Affleck’s Batman wasn’t remotely bad, not at least in the way he portrayed the character and his alter ego (depending upon your perspective), Bruce Wayne. Dawn of Justice was poorly written and the artistic liberties taken were too extreme for purists, especially in regards to the Batman character. Like Batman and Robin, no performance could have possibly saved it. And in the end, in a movie marred by some of the worst we’ve ever seen from a performance standpoint, where Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor can be easily mistaken for Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy, from directorial failure, and a disjointed story arc woven together by an insufferable thread of melodrama, we all reflect on Affleck and his Batman as a reference point for how we compare the failure of Dawn of Justice to all other related things. It would have been impossible to determine the prophetic truth in Clooney’s warning, but I somehow think that Affleck wished he would have listened.
*The fact that no one dressed up as Batman and Robin characters at this year’s Met Gala further proves how out-of-touch Hollywood is with basically everything. Click here for this year’s costumes. We must consider: if one fails to embody camp at a camp-themed party, is their outfit itself a true reflection of the camp theme, that among all those decorated in exaggerated costumes they were more plainly dressed turns the camp theme on its head, or is their attempt to beautify something which is intentionally the anti-beauty an abject failure to comply with the theme? For an answer, click here.