The Reel: Major casting decisions leave doubts

Ben Conniff

Before Miley Cyrus’s now-infamous performance at the Video Music Awards whipped the Internet into a frenzy, message boards and social networks were set ablaze with the news that Ben Affleck had been cast as Batman in 2015’s sequel to “Man of Steel.”

“All I’m going to see is Ben Affleck. I won’t be able to take him seriously as Batman,” wrote one commenter, whose message was echoed on sites like IGN and IMDb.

“He was terrible as Daredevil. He’ll ruin Batman too,” wrote another.

The announcement of Affleck’s involvement came nearly three weeks ago.

Now that the initial shock has subsided, more fans have hopped on the bandwagon to support him, including pal Matt Damon.

“It will be terrific,” Damon reported to The Times of India last week. “You know he’s not playing King Lear – it’s Batman! Certainly within his skill set.”

If Affleck’s recent performances in “The Town” and “Argo” are any indication, I have every confidence that he’ll do a tremendous job as the Caped Crusader.

So as the “Bat-fleck” flurry subsides, attention has turned to potential actors in line to play the villain to Affleck’s Batman and Henry Cavill’s Superman.

Rumors that “Breaking Bad”’s Bryan Cranston had been cast as Lex Luthor have been denied by the actor personally, though he has expressed interest in the part.

In a radio interview last week, Justin Timberlake voiced his desire to portray The Riddler. 

“If I’m gonna play crazy, I wanna play proper crazy,” said Timberlake.

It remains to be seen which villains will actually be included in the “Man of Steel” sequel.

Cranston would be a much stronger candidate for the role of Gotham City police commissioner Jim Gordon, a role vacated by Gary Oldman after “The Dark Knight” films.

As for Timberlake, people might say “He’s too much of a heartthrob to play The Riddler,” but they said exactly the same thing about Heath Ledger as The Joker.

If given the chance to play “proper crazy,” as he puts it, I think Timberlake could be stellar. 

On the other side of the comic-book spectrum, “Boston Legal”’s James Spader was recently cast as the main antagonist in the next “Avengers” film.

The outcry over Spader’s casting wasn’t as loud as Affleck’s, but some still doubt his abilities to pull off the character.

“He is someone I associate as only a TV actor now,” wrote a commenter on IMDb. 

Spader is portraying the robot Ultron, an adversary that The Avengers will not be taking lightly. 

I’m worried that I will take him lightly because I just can’t picture Robert California from “The Office” as a big, metallic meanie.

Another feature which has struggled to find its leads as of late has been Universal Pictures’ adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Earlier this week, “Sons of Anarchy”’s Charlie Hunnam and “Ben and Kate”’s Dakota Johnson have been picked as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele respectively.

Many fans don’t find either star attractive, youthful, or innocent enough to pull off their parts. 

Expectations are high, and each character’s loyal fanbase anxiously awaits the release of these coming films.

All are certainly accomplished performers, but only time will tell if Affleck, Spader, Hunnam and Johnson can do justice to their roles.