Top Film Industry Stories of 2013: #7

Argo Batman Yourself

By David Mumpower

January 8, 2014

It's like rain on your wedding day.

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The list of names is iconic. It includes Michael Keaton, Adam West, Val Kilmer, Christian Bale and George Clooney. All of them have donned the cowl of the Batman and thereby became exponentially more famous than before. All of these actors have something else in common. Each of them starred in a theatrical version of the character. And all of them save for Clooney and West share one other commonality. Each of their turns as Batman was celebrated by audiences enough that the films all broke the opening weekend box office record. The track record for the opening weekends of Batman movies is the gold standard in the industry.

While the fact that Clooney’s turn as Batman did not is an exceptional trivia question, the overall track record here cannot be ignored. The actors who portray Bruce Wayne become more famous in the process. Additionally, their movies shatter records for opening weekend totals. Imagine the possibilities if an already world famous actor who recently starred in as well as directed an Academy Award winning movie accepted the role of Batman.

This scenario is exactly what transpired in 2013 when Ben Affleck, the creator of Argo, was announced as the next Batman.


Amazingly, there was an equally newsworthy aspect to the role. Affleck will be paired with the current Superman, Henry Cavill, in a mega-project featuring the union of Batman and Superman in what is presumed to be a build-up to an eventual Justice League movie. The news was announced during the 2013 Comic-Con in San Diego and quickly became THE signature moment of the event. Since the 1980s, fans of the iconic DC Comics characters have hoped to witness a joining of the duo onscreen. These people will soon get their wish.

How did all of this unlikely news transpire? Perhaps you have noticed that Marvel Comics has experienced a modicum of success with their recent theatrical adaptations. For the body of a decade now, their peers at DC Comics have shared similar ambitions. Jealousy would be a natural reaction to watching a peer absolutely dominate the box office with a similar strategy. Marvel Comics launched their billionaire playboy’s movie and followed it with a sequel. Then, they introduced dudes with shields, hammers, bows and arrows and a woman in a skintight costume and impossibly high heels. Suddenly, they possessed a multi-billion dollar property despite having notably less iconic comic book heroes than their counterparts at DC Comics.

Meanwhile, the world famous characters of Superman and Batman have starred in a total of five movies since 2006. The Batman movies did very well. The Superman movies did less well, yet still good enough to sustain the belief that a great Superman movie could break the bank. A couple of other DC properties, Green Lantern and Jonah Hex, also anchored films that were…less popular. So there were seven DC titles released in eight years. Anything lacking Batman in the title struggled relative to expectations or outright bombed. So how does DC Comics expand beyond the popularity of Batman at the theater the way that Marvel has?

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