The Internet has provided humanity with some magnificent tools.
Keeping in touch with loved ones even from faraway distances, the world’s accumulated information at your disposal, a channel for the minorities and disenfranchised to voice their displeasure regarding a variety of social topics that could help enhance our way of life and the opportunity for thousands of angry fans to sign petitions asking to remake franchises because “Luke Skywalker should have killed the whole Empire at the end and eww Rey is too smart for a girl” or “Jon Snow should have totally been King with his hot aunt!“
Recently, it was announced that Robert Pattinson is the front runner to take over the cape and cowl worn by many other actors as the new Batman for… “The Batman”.
And as it always does, the internet has lost its goddamn mind.
“The guy from Twilight??! What a horrible decision! FIRE HIM AND BRING BACK CHRISTIAN BALE/BEN AFFLECK/MICHAEL KEATON”, is about the most common sentiment I’ve seen thrown around by about half my contacts.
And sure, it’s an understandable thought to have… for 5 minutes. The Twilight saga is… not good to put it politely. Full of very dubious morals (it seems all romantic story lines involve some form of stalking and very illegal age differences), stiff performances and terrible special effects.
However, two elements became the face of the saga; Its leads, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. And the matter of the fact is that neither one of them did their best work on those movies. Which is a relief that they were able to leave the shadow left behind their characters and accomplish fantastic performances and establish themselves as some of the most daring and talented independent actors.
It’s just a shame that many people haven’t realized this. For Stewart and Pattinson, once they left Bella Swan and Edward Cullen behind, both decided to stop acting on big budget mainstream films in favor of working on independent, quirky films that brought them acclaim and in touch with some truly talented directors.
For Stewart, it led her to work with Ang Lee and Olivier Assayas, this second collaboration which gave her a Cesar Award for Best Supporting Actress (a type of French Oscars), the first american actress to receive a nomination in thirty years.
For Pattinson, it meant going through a list of directors most working actors would kill for the opportunity. A list that includes; David Cronenberg, Werner Herzog, The Safdie Brothers, Claire Denis and Christopher Nolan.
And speaking of directors, it’s perhaps a good time to speak of the one who is in charge of “The Batman”: Matt Reeves. Reeves credits includes Cloverfield, one of the better recent monster movies. Let Me In, one of the best vampire movies (remake of another excellent film) and the last two Apes films, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War of the Planet of the Apes, two of the best films from their respective years.
So it’s safe to say that if Reeves wants Robert Pattinson to be his Batman, there’s a damn good reason coming from a fantastic and proven filmmaker.
Pattinson was just unfortunate enough to become synonymous with a film series about sparkly vampires. Just imagine how many things you or I have to done discredit us from life.
Of course, Pattinson is not the first nor will he be the last actor to receive such scrutiny when taking over a character that has such a massive and passionate fan base. Fans are protective of the icons they have grown with and have every right to feel that way…until it tries to mess with the final product and/or get personal with artists they have never met and are likely never to do so.
Now, it’s entirely possible that he might end up giving a terrible performance as Batman. It’s also valid that you don’t like Robert Pattinson as an actor or even human being for whichever reason.
At the end of the day, everyone has the right to their opinion.
But imagine if that opinion was…informed?
Which is why its an excellent moment to examine three other instances when casting influential characters brought the wrath of fans for them to later realize… “Oopsie, maybe we got it wrong?”
Reasons for backlash: Blonde, big ears (yes, really), short, not charming enough on past films
The world’s most famous secret agent James Bond has gone non-stop for 57 years and up until the early 2000’s all Bond actors had been physically similar – Tall (all of them ranged from around 1.88 m) dark haired and thin – which is why when in 2006 a reboot was announced with Daniel Craig playing 007, some fans decided to boycott the film before filming even began.
The English actor was criticized for being too short (1.78 m), having big ugly ears stuck to a rough ugly face, being blond and, according to several, “odd-looking”.
A website was even put online – danielcraigisnotbond.com, a site that still remains active and updated to this day for some reason – asking people to send boycott emails and sign a petition to remove Craig from the franchise, also wanting to let the producers know “millions of dollars were missed out on because of their mistaken choice of Daniel Craig”.
After Casino Royale was released, it was critically acclaimed with Craig’s performance singled out by many reviewers and described in consensus as “a caustic, haunted, intense reinvention of 007”.
Craig would go on to make an additional three films with a fourth and final one currently shooting, consistently top lists of “best Bond actors” and gross over 3 Billion dollars. Keep at it danielcraigisnotbond.com! You’re almost there!
Reason for backlash: Too pretty to play the Joker, romantic actor not fit to portray a psychopath, too young, played a gay cowboy.
Yes, that’s right. One of the most influential performances of the 20th century, costume of choice for “edgy and cool” frat dudes every Halloween and poster boy for positive quotes about “insanity” that all our aunts have shared at some point was at one point hated.
In 2006, Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros unveiled the actor who would put on the clown makeup and terrorize the Batman in The Dark Knight.
“The guy from 10 Things I Hate About You that gay cowboy movie?? BRING BACK JACK NICHOLSON” seemed to be the almost unanimous cry heard. I must even admit that at my young age of 14 years old I also thought this was a terrible idea.
Despite receiving critical praise in various films, a goddamn Academy Award nomination for his work on that “gay cowboy movie” (Brokeback Mountain) and you know, being an actor, fans were sure that the 26 year old Australian was far too handsome and likable to play a murdering psychopath declaring an eloquent “Hell NOOOOOOOOOOOOO” (actual quote)
Even after the first picture was released (seen above), public opinion was not swayed, with people now mad that this Joker appeared to be using makeup, had a Glasgow smile and still looked too handsome to be a villain. It would take the first official trailer and footage of Ledger as the Clown Prince of crime for fans to realize… “Huh, he’s an actor? And he can act? And he can act very well?”
Sadly, Ledger passed away a few months before the release due to an accidental drug overdose (unrelated to his preparation to become the Joker as is repeatedly reported), gaining universal critical acclaim and receiving a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Pattinson is not the first actor to be criticized and face the “fans” anger for wearing the batears. In 1988, when it was revealed that Michael Keaton would be the Dark Knight, comic book aficionados went berserk criticizing the casting as completely wrong and convinced that Tim Burton was only looking to create another Adam West Batman.
Known up to that point mostly for being the lead in comedies like Mr. Mom, Night Shift and most famously, Beetlejuice, Keaton was deemed as not being menacing enough to portray the crime fighting superhero.
Shortly after his casting, it’s estimated that Warner Brothers offices received close to 50,000 protest letters from angry fans. As this was before the era of the internet, this means actual letters that people needed to sit down and write with some pen and paper, then pay for in order to stamp and send to an executive who would swiftly throw it in the trash.
But Burton, who had previously directed Keaton in Beetlejuice, did not back down on his decision as felt the actors eyes lent him an intensity that would shine through the cowl.
The movie proved to be huge box office and critical success, with many considering it paved the way for the current era of darker and mature superhero films and Keaton was praised by fans for his brooding and mysterious take on Batman that also happened to utilize his talent as a comedic actor well.
Thank god fans never complained about any of the next Batmen… right?