Sunday, September 8, 2013

Replacing Batman's Supporting Characters

Who are the Next Alfred Pennyworth, Lucius Fox and Commissioner Gordon?

Alfred Pennyworth Lucius Fox Commissioner Gordon

Ben Affleck’s casting as Batman has already generated negative buzz, from the very first hour that the news hit the internet to be exact. It even resulted in a petition on to have the actor replaced by another. The reason behind this was his apparent lack of acting ability, as stated by the petitioners that is. Frequent references were made to his performances in Daredevil and Gigli. Living up to Christian Bale’s portrayal is a monstrous task, one any actor should be intimidated by. However, certain other casting decisions have almost gone unnoticed, at least in terms of speculation. Twitter user @Reconcoding brought up a valid point regarding the replacement of supporting characters, because a movie needs to have a synergetic ensemble cast to complement the leads, otherwise the film would feel disjointed and fragmented.

This got my thinking on Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred Pennyworth and the superhero’s tech guru Lucius Fox. Who plans to take the mantle from Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman? Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe seemed to perfect all casting decisions, despite drawing scrutiny early on, even for Heath Ledger’s casting as The Joker. The issue is that his decisions will serve as a benchmark on all matters pertaining to the new Batman. Any choice that Zack Snyder and David S. Goyer make will be compared with the ones made previously in the Dark Knight Trilogy, creating a disadvantage in terms of fan reaction and publicity from the get go. We must wonder if this will hamper the cinema turnout in 2015. A new Alfred will always be compared with Caine and Lucius Fox with Freeman. One factor working in favor of these new actors would be their ages. Alfred and Fox are well beyond there fifties, if not sixties. The only suitable choices therefore would be Hollywood veterans who have earned the respect of countless generations of movie fans. This will have the effect of reducing that strong initial skepticism faced by the likes of other younger characters. That’s not to say that we would want Al Pacino as Alfred. An actor who as essentially played gangsters will not fit well into the role, but might I suggest Christopher Plummer?

While the supporting components can be a burden, they can also be solved rather easily. Nolan himself substituted Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal for the part of Rachel Dawes, Bruce Wayne’s love interest. Gyllenhaal was able to preserve the sanctity of the role, if not surpass the efforts of Katie Holmes. If that decision worked out well, we could assume that for the Man of Steel sequel, all will bode well. Or maybe not, but only time will tell.

Upon further analysis, though, it might seem that these decisions may not be finalized by the time the sequel arrives. As of now, we are still unsure of the capacity in which Batman will be featured in the Superman sequel. Is it a headlining role as we all think or a mild cameo? Whatever the scenario, the direction taken by Snyder and co could leave out the likes of Alfred and Lucius. After all, this is a Superman movie so the primary focus should be on the Kryptonian, something people have forgotten ever since Batman was put into the mix. But then again, is Batman the same without Alfred, Lucius and Rachel? These are voids that DC and Warner Bros. need to fill up at some point in the future, but will it be in the Superman sequel or much later on as we get closer to that illusive Justice League movie?