Monday, June 23, 2014
Casting Choices: Stop Complaining Already!
Casting choices are one of the biggest instant outrage triggers out there now. It seems that fanboys and fangirls all have what they believe would be the perfect choices for all their favorite roles lined up, and when they don't happen there is weeping and gnashing of teeth all over."Why did they choose (insert name here), they're terrible! What were they thinking?" Never mind the fact that you're not writing or filming the movie, and have zero insight on what direction the director and writers are going in at the time they're casting the film. There are three choices for the upcoming Dawn of Justice film that have people up in arms, and in my opinion the outrage is just plain dumb. The choices for Wonder Woman, Batman, and Lex Luthor have driven some people mad, and I think that itself is just dumb.
On the Wonder Woman casting choice, what exactly are the alternatives? The names I've heard are either unavailable, or plain awful. Jamie Alexander, who plays Sif in the Thor movies, is a name that a lot of people have thrown out. I think she would have been an excellent and obvious choice, but there's a huge problem. She's under contract to Marvel Studios, which means she'll be locked in to Marvel films for the forseeable future. From there it goes south real fast. Gina Carano? Can. Not. Act. She was in Fast and Furious 6 with Gadot, and her lack of any meaningful dialogue should be pretty telling. Yes, she's good looking and she can fight but she cannot act. Now we don't really know how well Gadot can act, either, but even if she can't the comparison is still a push. Megan Fox? Oh my god, I would boycott it if they picked her. Fox can't act and can't do the fight scenes. And then there's the nostalgia pick Lucy Lawless. Yes she would have been perfect for the role, but we're about 15 years late for that. So get over it. You need somebody who is attractive, can do at least some of the action/fight scenes, and who can act. We honestly have no idea who they auditioned, how they did, etc. There could always be some unknown actress out there that they could have chosen, but you guys would have hated on that, too. We'll see what happens, but I think it's more than a little bit crazy to dump all over the choice without even seeing it onscreen.
Of course we can't discuss casting choices without going to the choice to play the Caped Crusader, Ben Affleck. If you think people were upset over the Wonder Woman casting, that was nothing compared to this. 'Batfleck' was panned immediately after the announcement. Affleck is one of a group of people in Hollywood who has a vocal, dedicated band of haters and they sprung into action on cue. Then there were the people who don't necessarily hate Affleck but have come to know him as someone in who's been in a lot of bad movies; they heard Affleck's name and were like 'really?' Affleck tried the superhero role before in Daredevil; opinions on that range from OK to terrible, and while the blame is spread around amongst everyone involved, Affleck was the face of the movie so there's some real reluctance on seeing him don a superhero costume on film by a lot of people. I'll admit to being one of the people in that group. When I was thinking 'who should they cast for Batman now that Christian Bale isn't doing it?' the name Ben Affleck is not one that popped up. But even with that, I'm not all doom and gloom about it. This is another instance where I'm going to trust the casting director. Those who remember the first modern Batman film, released 25 years ago, will also remember the high level of skepticism when Michael Keaton, a comedic actor, was cast as the Dark Knight. Nobody figured that Mr. Mom would do well as Batman, but he pulled it off pretty damn well. We got similar surprises when Heath Ledger killed it as the Joker in The Dark Knight and Anne Hathaway did a good job as Catwoman. So let's not get crazy here, folks. Ben is not going to play Batman Good Will Hunting style with some pronounced Boston accent ("We got to get the Jo-Kah!"). He won't be Bruce Wayne from Southie, OK? He's a good actor and as long as the script is good he'll be fine.
And last but not least we move on to Lex Luthor. There were all kinds of crazy rumors about who might get the role, non based on reality. The first name was Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame, and fans of that show were estatic. Of course Cranston's main qualification is that for a portion of the show's run, he was bald. OK....... Next we heard the name Denzel Washington; that was an inspired choice, one that would lead to another episode of race bending a long established character. There didn't seem to be any beef over it, probably because Washington is such a great actor that he would absolutely kill it in that role and everybody knows it. But that wasn't based in any reality, either. So when the announcement was made that Jesse Eisenberg was chosen, people went nuts again. A meme showed up with the caption 'We wanted Heisenberg (an alias for Cranston's Break Bad character) and we got Eisenberg'. The outrage wasn't even about who got the role, it was over who supposedly didn't get it. Now if they cast Jesse Eisenberg it's obvious they were going for a younger Lex Luthor, which means middle aged Cranston and Washington couldn't have been in the running. But people just wouldn't let go. Eisenberg is a good actor, and they know what they're going for with the Luthor character. The Heath Ledger example is the way to go here. Ledger had shown promise as an actor but had never done anything in his career that indicated he would play the Joker in a Batman film and do such a great job with it. You just don't know until you see it, so you should reserve judgement, people.
I leave with this: we're not casting directors. We're not in the room when these folks read for the parts or do screen tests. We're not the ones crafting a vision for the films. None of us would have cast Ledger, or Hathaway, or Keaton in the roles they played and the movies would have suffered for it. So let the experts do their job.