Friday, August 30, 2013

Don't blame Affleck, Blame Goyer. An editorial by Kyle Johannessen

Ben Affleck isn’t going to ruin Batman. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. Batman was ruined long before Mr. Affleck was announced earlier this week. He was ruined way back at ComiCon when Warner Brothers and DC announced that the follow up to the disgustingly disappointing Man of Steel was going to shoehorn Batman into the mix. That’s when I knew the “DC Cinematic Universe” was going to go all bad. Because there is one thing that I am absolutely certain of: David Goyer is no Joss Whedon. He’s not even Joss Whedon’s armpit. And if David Goyer is going to continue to be in charge of this endeavor, then it is doomed to fail and fail big.

Now I admit, when they announced that Affleck was going to be Batman my initial reaction wasn’t much different than the rest of the internets. It’s a bad idea, he’s not a great actor, and isn’t he busy directing? Because he should stick to directing. He’s a great director. Why in the name of all things holy is he taking time out of his schedule to do what will only be viewed by just about everyone as a failure? But then I started to think about it a little more. And then I thought about it a little longer and I came to the realization (with a help of a friend of mine) that my problem wasn’t with Affleck. It with Goyer.

For those of you who don’t follow films as closely as I do, David S. Goyer is pretty much the Joss Whedon of the DC Cinema Universe. Meaning that they have trusted him to create and build the universe so that the big DC characters can one day cross over into a Justice League movie.  And he’s a hack. I mean a big hack. Looking at his IMDB credits, you’ll see some impressive titles: Blade, Dark City, and of course, The Dark Knight Trilogy. Look at EVERYTHING ELSE ON THE LIST, however, and you’ll see what I mean. HACK.

But Kyle, you mean this wasn't a cinematic masterpiece? -Ed

“But Kyle!” you exclaim, “The Dark Knight Trilogy is FANTASIC! Well, at least the first two!” Well, I like Rises, but that’s neither here nor there. What’s important to note about The Dark Knight is that Goyer didn’t write a single line of that movie. He has a story credit for that movie. You know what it took for him to get a story credit? Writing the last scene in Batman Begins which pretty much said that the next movie is going to be about the Joker. His big story idea for the next Batman movie was to have the Batman fight the Joker… NO SHIT. For that he gets a story credit and everyone thinks he’s a genius. Jonathan and Christopher write Knight and Rises. If you go back and watch Begins, and then watch either of the other two, you'll notice a HUGE jump in the quality of the writing.

There are moments in Begins that legitimately make me cringe. The moment that stands out the most for me is a moment later in the film. Ra’s has just turned his little gizmo on and all the fear stuff is spewing into the air. The police close off the little island (that is never mentioned again in the trilogy) and Katie Holms is able to cross to the other side because, get this, she tells the cop “I’m a Gotham City District Attorney, let me pass!” …. And that’s it. She shows no ID, no credentials, she has no armed escort. He doesn’t radio in to his commander officer, or even say a fucking word. He just lets an unescorted person walk into a warzone. What kind of writing is this?! There are LOTS of other moments wrong with Begins, but I’m not going through the entire list.

Ooh look, here's another! -Ed

The reason why we remember Begins so fondly is because the Batman movie that preceded it, Batman & Robin, was so god awful that we would have welcomed anything different.  And the reality is, Batman Begins isn’t a bad movie. It was much better than anyone was expecting, or it had any business being really. But the jump in quality between Begins and Knight is dramatic and noticeable. This is because Goyer had less to do with it. I could tear apart Man of Steel, but I’m hoping to save that for a project with me and Mr. Fatum later on. Let’s just say that Goyer really got a lot of fundamental things wrong with Superman that I, as a huge Superman fan, will never forgive him for.

This is why the Affleck announcement doesn’t bother me as much as it did when it was first announced. The reality is, Affleck will never have a chance to show us what he can do with the character, if anything at all. He is going to be handed a script written by a third rate writer who doesn’t really understand the essence of the character or the ability to write dialogue between two characters that is two people talking at each other rather than with each other. The thing (if there is just one, which there isn’t) about Goyer is that the ideas he has are pretty great. They’re just not incredibly unique. Batman fights the Joker, cool. Blade fights vampires. No kidding.  The ghost of a girls twin who died in the womb comes to haunt her when she turns 18… ok, no, that one still sucks.

As long as Goyer has free reign over the DC Cinematic Universe, none of our beloved comic book characters are going to get a chance. And for every good decision he makes, he will make five utterly mystifying ones. For every interesting character he creates or forms, there will be five full blown pieces of wood out there as well. Ben Affleck might be a GREAT Batman, but he will never get the chance as long as David S. Goyer is penning the script. And we should all be very, very afraid if he attempts to write a Wonder Woman movie, and ruin our one good chance to see a female lead in a superhero movie that doesn’t completely suck.

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