On Wednesday, Variety reported that Israeli actress Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman in the Man of Steel sequel tentatively titled Batman vs. Superman. While not shocking, since she was reported earlier in the month as a front-runner, the news does raise a few eyebrows though. Gadot, who is most famous for her role as Gisele Harabo in the Fast and Furious films, is a former Miss Universe contestant and at barely 100lbs wouldn’t exactly be considered Amazonian. DC Entertainment is definitely taking a risk with this casting choice, but given all the other news that's come out surrounding this film, it shouldn't be surprising that they're fine with taking a gamble.
In fact, everything about how this movie is getting put together reminds me of the first time I went to the city of risk, Las Vegas.
About a year ago — fortunately on my ex-agency’s dime — I headed out to Vegas with my boss, and I was set up with a beautiful private suite in The Cosmopolitan, complete with jacuzzi tub and not one but two flatscreen TVs. It was, in one word, awesome.
I had never really gambled in a casino though, and with my money-ain’t-a-thang boss goading me, after only a few hours, I found myself a bit in the red. But the thing about gambling is that when you're losing, you don’t think of it as a trend; you believe it's something that can be easily remedied by just doubling up on the next hand, even if it’s worse odds than you’d normally like. And that's exactly what I did.
It’s a lovely blend of optimism and desperation, but it rarely ever pans out.
However, with the way DC is approaching its upcoming blockbuster — which is being treated more like a Meet The Justice League then an actual Superman movie -- it's apparent DC hasn't learned that lesson. They keep tacking more and more bets onto their original gamble, and those bets are becoming increasingly riskier with each decision they make.
Still, I can see where they're coming from.
When you’re gambling and you’re up like they've been thanks to their incredibly successful Dark Knight trilogy, you feel invincible. You have the power of momentum and the comfort of house money, not to mention a confidence in your own decision making skills. Your gut just isn’t wrong.
Until it is…
Now I am part of the majority that actually enjoyed Man of Steel (yes it was long and convoluted at times but it had to be, get over it). I’m also fully in on Henry Cavill as Superman. I understood even then that it was the first building block towards assembling a Justice League that could go toe-to-toe with Marvel’s Avengers franchise. I knew we needed to somehow bring Batman back in the fold (whether it was Christian Bale or Joseph Gordon-Levitt or someone new). I knew we needed to meet Diana Prince. I knew we should expect to hear at least a mention of a super-sonic dude in red.
But aren’t there safer ways to do this than how DC is trying it?
First off, the movie is most likely going to be called Batman Vs. Superman, a nod to the fantastic fantastic fantastic comic-book mini-series The Dark Knight Returns penned by the legendary Frank Miller. In that story, which is very much a Batman-centric tale, an aged vigilante Batman comes into conflict with the government-lackey Man of Steel, leading to a pretty epic showdown that I won’t spoil for you. It’s one of those classic Batman stories that nerds like me always dreamed of seeing on the big-screen. But it’s still a big gamble taking this on.
Choosing what is intrinsically a Batman narrative and injecting it into a Superman movie is going to be tricky. Dark Knight devotees treat some of the more iconic stories as Biblical-level canon and the even-slightly-imperfect “bastardization” that could occur when adapting this might be enough to sour some fans on the whole movie.
But DC decided to roll the dice on this one and, you know what, more power to them. They needed to make a splash, they needed to find a way to re-introduce Batman only a few years after Bale’s phenomenal performance, and they went with a well-educated risk that, while precarious, was worth doing.
Then they went and cast Batman…
There’s an actual chemical rush that happens in your brain when you’re gambling. It, along with the oxygen they pump into the casino floors, literally gets you a bit high. And that tends to skew the rationality of your thought processes. It's what makes you chase the intensifying rush that comes from winning a big hand on dumb luck. So I can only imagine DC's wide eyes as they decided to get even crazier with their next bet...
Now I went to college in Boston, the one place where Affleck has always been embraced no matter what piece of Gigli he came out with, so a bit of that bias may have rubbed off on me (plus Dogmais one of my favorite movies), but I think I can understand what the studio executives were thinking. Ben had just come off huge victories with The Town and Argo, proving he could be both a brooding badass and a serious lead. He's now gotten enough gray hairs and wrinkles that he can easily be aged into the sunset-era Bruce Wayne the movie has stated it's going with. He definitely has the star power.
But it's still Ben Affleck.
The name alone has so much baggage —and that’s before you start bringing up nicknames like Bennifer— that it almost outshines the character he’s taking on. Sure, as Affleck himself brought up in a recent interview, all of the big-screen Batman actors since 1989 have been well known before donning the cape and cowl, but none of them were as polarizing a figure as him.
Honestly, Affleck will have to absolutely NAIL this performance in order to not get reamed, and he’s capable of doing that, but the odds against it are so high that I’m left wondering why the Powers That Be didn’t go with someone who was more likely to deliver a good-to-great performance, even if their ceiling might not have been as high as Affleck’s. Josh Brolin’s name was floated out as a possibility, and that’s a great “staying at 19” kind of bet that makes a lot more sense when you think about what's at stake with this film.
But now with the Big Three superheroes lined up, it’s just a matter of time before we start getting villain names, cameo appearances, and other casting news floating around the rumor mill at a pretty consistent rate, and we'll get to see just how far DC is going to let this gambling streak ride. With most of these types of movies, it’s pretty easy to figure out which rumors are pipedreams and which are realistic, but with the kind of dicey moves DC has pulled so far, every bit of news has to be taken with as few grains of salt as possible.
Maybe that means Girls’Adam Driver might actually be Nightwing. Maybe Michael Rosenbaum will get a chance to bring his stellar small-screen Lex Luthor to the silver screen. Maybe The Joker’s name is floated out there at some point during the film. Maybe something that the internet hasn't even thought of or heard about is going to happen. But all of these come with certain risk-to-reward ratios that should determine if they’re acted upon. Should, but not will. In fact, right now, the only thing that's certain is that much like how it’s occasionally fun to watch The World Series of Poker on ESPN8 The Ocho, it’s going to be exciting as hell to see how well all these gambles pay off.
Let’s just hope that lady luck is on their side with these next few big decisions, otherwise, it’ll be Doomsday for the DC Universe as we know it.