Friday, August 23, 2013

5 BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN Issues More Pressing Than the #Batfleck Hire

I do not own the above image.  Copyright Warner Bros. Entertainment/DC Comics.  All rights reserved.

            For about 24 hours, Ben Affleck has been Bruce Wayne.  The reaction to the new resident of Wayne Manor has been decidedly mixed, from the indifferent to the livid to even suicidal.  Seriously, look it up on Facebook.  Am I thrilled with the hire?  Count me in the “indifferent” camp.
            While the casting of Bruce Wayne/Batman is over and controversial, BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN has much, much greater issues.  I’ve got five.

1.      Screenplay/Small Production Window
MAN OF STEEL writer & THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy co-writer David Goyer will return.  Just one problem: there are no reports of a finished first draft.  And even if there were, the release date (July 17, 2015) is less than 23 months away.  So, if there are story issues (and just about major studio release ends up with some), there will be little time to fix them.
Once the script is finished, then you need to film, edit, market and screen the film.  An indie flick needs about 6 months to do all this.  But a big budget, potential blockbuster?  The production crew will be doing double-time to reach the release date.  Plus, I’m sure Warner Bros. and any potential companies with product tie-ins will want to see a final cut before July.  At worst, BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN will have to be done & in the can by Memorial Day weekend 2015.  That’s 21 months.  Good luck.

2.      Decrease of Christopher Nolan Involvement
For anyone who watched any of the trailers knows just how important Christopher Nolan to the marketing.  “From the Producer of The Dark Knight Trilogy” was about as large as the title itself.  Zack Snyder’s name was basically hidden.  From what I understood, Nolan was on the set & over Snyder’s shoulder for a good percentage of filming.
This time around, however, Christopher Nolan has downgraded himself to Executive Producer.  How far down the food chain did Nolan fall?  His name is not on the Warner Brothers press release announcing Affleck’s hiring.  Nolan will have his hands full with his new original idea INTERSTELLAR.  So he won’t be on set or in the editing room watching…

3.      Director Zack Snyder
Confession: I HATE Zack Snyder.  Hate him.  I think he has little talent or an eye for quality.  His best received movie by critics & audiences?  A horror remake.  His personal “best” to me:300.  And I wasn’t that impressed  The rest of his filmography?  The uneven WATCHMEN, the awful SUCKER PUNCH and the rightly forgotten movie about the owls. Yuck!
            Sure, I enjoyed MAN OF STEEL.  But how much of what I enjoyed was Zack Snyder unchained and how much was Snyder on Nolan’s leash?  Sadly, we won’t find out until you purchase your ticket in two years. 

4.      Expectations
This issue has two sides and one of the sides is a double edged sword.  The target audience to impress here aren’t Superman people. It’s Batman people.  The Dark Knight Trilogy, especially the middle film, outperformed beyond anyone’s fantasies.  The Batman fanbase is as large & as active as they are ever going to be.  Nolan & Bale, in the eyes of WB, quit on them.  Studios don’t quit when they are ahead; only when the well is out of stones that make up the well (See THE HANGOVER trilogy).  Batman folks are going to expect something special.  Most fans will show up but WB hopes everyone does.
            This is where the hiring of Ben Affleck gets interesting.  Hiring Affleck puts a bonafide movie star in a comic book movie.  But that begs the question: if it weren’t for the success & subsequent inclusion of Bruce Wayne/Batman, would the world get a MAN OF STEEL sequel?  Would MAN OF STEEL have gone by way of SUPERMAN RETURNS?  This situation just screams that WB has little to no confidence in Superman.

5.      Every Other Summer 2015 Release
A few weeks ago, Brad Brevet wrote about the stacked schedule already for summer of 2015.  There will be a bloodbath at the box office.  Such potential blockbusters include STAR WARS VII, THE AVENGERS: ULTRON, PIRATES 5, ID4 II, JURASSIC PARK IV, MOCKINGJAY PART DEUX, BOND 24, FINDING DORY...  The list is endless.
            After the disaster that was the summer of 2013, the number of movies that will fail to reach a large audience in two summers with that slate may be higher than the number that succeed. 

BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN will be successful.  But with all these pre-production issues, Warner Brothers needs to hope bad press stays away.  Now that Affleck’s reputation is at an all-time high and with a majority of the fanboy backlash out of the way, it probably won’t be an issue.  Probably.

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