Christian Bale

Movie News Reviews

Op-Ed: Ben Affleck As Batman Is The End Of DC

This is the END, DC!

Attempting to comprehend “Why?!?”

By: Lawrence Napoli



It’s Thursday night, August 22, 2013, and I just found out that Ben Affleck will be the next Batman in the sequel to Man of Steel as well as what I presume will be DC’s efforts moving forward to culminate in Justice League. Let that sentence percolate for a moment. Ben F*CKING Affleck!?!? Here’s a pro tip: count to ten, take a breath, in the nose, out the mouth. Needless to say, but I am extremely disappointed in this decision. Nothing (and I mean NOTHING) in this actor’s repertoire indicates that he would, could or should be Batman in a serious adaptation of that character’s license on the silver screen. I’ll delve into my opinion about this debacle later, but first I need to make some predictions about what this means for DC shamelessly attempting to recapture The Avengers in a bottle.

1) Established media entities will universally praise this move.
Affleck, love him or hate him, happens to be an A-list, popular name whose attachment to any film production can send budgets through the roof and potential ticket sales of seemingly obscure films in the same direction. He’s a regular on GQ, he’s a tabloid darling, and thanks to Argo he not only has “street cred,” but finally something significant to distinguish himself from Matt Damon’s more esteemed body of work. DC, Dune Entertainment, Syncopy and Warner Bros. are making this decision entirely about money, but the false assumption is that Affleck has this effect for this kind of serious comic book adaptation. In the one, previous stint Affleck had with starring as a superhero: Daredevil, that production had a budget of $78 million dollars in 2003 and its GLOBAL take at the box office was just under $180 million. This is NOT an example of “showing me the money!”

2) Bat Fans, Bloggers, Fan Websites and anything else remotely grassroots will universally pan (or at least raise a serious eyebrow at) this move.
The die-hard fan (a.k.a. fanboy) is instrumental in turning these comic book movies into legit challengers to Avatar’s all time money record. They’re the ones that pump movies they like incessantly (and for free) on the internet, attend multiple screenings and contribute to a fever pitched word of mouth campaign to do the kind of things The Avengers did. Core fans don’t care very much for Affleck because everything about his persona reeks of Shannon who worked at The Fashionable Male in Mallrats. He’s comes off as arrogant, narcissistic, over privileged and completely devoid of an ounce of genuine humility. You know, he’s the kind of guy that beat up the comic book geeks and nerds in high school. Yeah, this decision should go over really well with them.


3) Superman vs. Batman and Justice League by extension will be out-earned, outperformed and out-classed by the Marvel Films.
DC is already at a distinct disadvantage with making Superman the center piece of their movement because that character’s godlike immunity makes him difficult to connect with contemporary audiences. Green Lantern was so awful that DC would rather have everyone completely forget that it ever happened. Nobody gives a damn about Aquaman. No woman (save for Lucy Lawless in her prime) could do Wonder Woman justice. And no one (outside of “the core”) knows about Flash, Martian Manhunter or Cyborg. DC’s most valuable character is the one they’ve already made seven movies with, and Christian Bale’s performance is recognized by many to be the “best Bat” to date. Oh, and Bale happens to be an Academy Award winning actor.

4) Zack Snyder is going to be constantly hitting every media outlet to pump up Affleck as Batman and tell nay-sayers to shut up. 
“(Affleck) has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.”
– Zack Snyder. 

Expect to see unending remixes of this last statement for the next two years. By the way, if you were looking for a translation for that quote, it goes something like this: “Forget your apprehensions concerning this casting call; Ben Affleck is the perfect Batman because the studio told me so, and I couldn’t identify a real actor even if Hugh Jackman punched me in the face.” Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but seriously, what was Snyder thinking with that? “Scars of a seasoned crime fighter,” implies the aforementioned humility factor that a career spent personifying arrogant bastards is pretty much incapable of depicting.


5) Everyone will suddenly pine for Superman snapping Batman’s neck in the movie.
This has a lot to do with prediction #2. Frank Miller’s, The Dark Knight Returns has that infamous showdown between Batman and Superman that has had every comic book aficionado salivating over Batman’s ability to overcome any odds and defeat any adversary put before him. People like Batman because he’s dark, deductive, mortal and flawed, and Superman was depicted as a brain-washed boy scout in that comic. Affleck is not an underdog though; he’s a front-runner and people want to see him get taken down a peg or two. Ergo, Henry Cavill needs to melt his face off with heat vision. Perhaps this is all an elaborate scheme by DC to make Superman their #1 guy in the eyes of the fans: by neutering Batman with Affleck.

I’m sure other things will happen like fans picketing theatres, or petitions to bring back Christian Bale. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if people hit up Kickstarter to put real money behind the serious opposition to this decision, but the fact of the matter is that this casting decision is the furthest from a slam dunk and it astounds me that no one calling the shots for DC’s film adaptations gave this a serious thought. Not once did I ever consider Affleck to be a legitimate contender for this role because he’s simply way too high-profile for it. What motivates an actor who’s already made millions and could give two shits if people don’t like his performance? I simply do not know, but actors who have neither of those are more likely to deliver a better performance and that’s what it should really be about.

The one thing I’d really like to know is what Affleck’s boy, Kevin Smith has to say about this. I’m sure he’s polishing his knee pads for the man now that the decision’s been made, and it’s out there for everyone to discuss, but I’d want to know what he’d say behind closed doors before any rumors concerning his casting were ever conceived.

I know I should be a more mature, reasonable and responsible journalist in regards to expressing my opinion on this matter, but I simply never cared for Ben Affleck, any of his films, his association with J-Lo, and his (generally speaking) smarmy attitude. I care even less for him now that he’s been tapped to be my favorite vigilante. I realize I should reserve all judgment until the film comes out, but that would be difficult seeing how I am giving serious thought to boycotting DC’s films from this point on.

Make mine Marvel!

Related: Op-Ed: A Response To Ben Affleck Batman Nerd Rage & Why Heath Ledger Argument Doesn’t Work

Movie News Reviews

Casting The Batman Reboot: The Dark Knight Then, Now and Beyond

Batman Then, Now and Beyond

By: Lawrence Napoli



Comic book adaptations continue to take the world by storm, and Hollywood’s desperate need to use “superheroes” as a crutch won’t see that trend ending anytime soon.  So we know (think) the Justice League adaptation is coming in an effort to mirror Marvel’s success with The Avengers, but no one seems to know how DC’s team of super folk ought to be adapted to the screen.  Does everyone get their own film to establish origins as well as a following?  Do we present the team first?  Oh, and what do we do about Batman?  Yes ladies and gentlemen, that last question is the one that’s truly plaguing the executive brass over at Warner Bros., and DC because Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy remains too familiar within the social consciousness of the present and a depiction of that character (DC’s most valuable license) that isn’t as proficient will directly translate to millions (if not billions) in lost profit all over the world.  

I’ve never liked the concept of “rebooting” and I never will, but that’s not to say some efforts have been made in good faith to really deliver some marquee entertainment that attempts to show an audience something we haven’t quite seen before.  Nolan’s trilogy is a perfect example of this, but if Justice League is to happen then Batman not only needs a new face to fill out the cowl, but he needs someone who will be as dedicated to the role as Henry Cavill is apparently for Superman, as Robert Downey Jr. is for Iron Man, and as Christian Bale was for Batman before.  If Justice League was truly a project attempting to carbon copy The Avengers, this production should have considered recasting Bale as Batman to maintain some viewer familiarity with that role as Downey Jr. has for Tony Stark.  Not everyone saw the Captain America, Incredible Hulk and Thor films, but most saw the Iron Man trilogy thanks mostly to the performance of the title role.  Bale’s presence could pay similar dividends for JL, but Bale has solidified his Hollywood legacy, he’s won his Oscar and made tons of money; he’s going to take a break now. 

So, what is the corporate conglomerate to do?  Audiences liked Cavill enough through strong showings for Man of Steel at the box office so Superman is set.  Everyone hated Green Lantern (and rightly so), but can JL afford recasting another emerald warrior in the form of a brand new Hal Jordon or swapping him out for Alan Scott, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner or (ugh!) Guy Gardner?  That character is a toss-up.  How about a CG Martian Manhunter?  Possibly.  Is Wonder Woman simply inconceivable to cast due to the need to make her as physically dominant, yet sexy, attractive and somewhat cute at the same time?  Perhaps.  Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman: does anyone even care about these guys?  Maybe not.  The point is that The League isn’t particularly stable, so the two pillars of this fictional franchise have got to work well (butting heads) onscreen.  Whoever is given the power to choose the next Batman better not miss.  

That being said, we will discuss some possibilities for actors who could potentially do the role (ahem) justice, but before we do, let’s glance at some of Batman’s past renditions to see if we can extract the elements of a performance that are vital to bringing this character back to life for Justice League and beyond.

Adam West


What worked:  He helped bring Batman to the mainstream in the late 60s with a very family friendly performance that employed a decent amount of action for television shows produced at that time.  The show kept fresh by employing a number of his iconic rogue’s gallery for several episodes.  Heck, they even all teamed up against him; Legion of Doom style and Mayor Adam West confronted them with as much dignity as he could muster.

What didn’t:  It’s obvious isn’t it?  It was campy and it was foolish, and West had no choice but to play it that way.  Seriously?  Shark repellent Bat spray???  West is only partially to blame as the man was simply following direction and reading off the script, but his smarmy chuckles, warm smile and Little House on the Prairie interpretation of fathering Robin is far off the beaten trail for this character.

What to keep:  Despite the dated nature of this material, West showed that you can generate interest and an audience through shear charisma and the man certainly had that in spades for his Batman.  A suave demeanor and face is the shortest route to an audience’s heart, so the next Batman must have this kind of likability because his clashing with Superman over JL decisions (as well as his personal brand of “justice”) might lead an audience to view him as a villain.  

George Clooney/Val Kilmer


What worked:  I count both men as the same because the only real positive impact they had on this character is the fact that A-list recognition will bring the masses to the box office; completely independent of the story, production value and quality of the performances.  It is the primary reason why “stars” fuel Hollywood’s engine in the first place.

What didn’t:  There’s almost too much to mention here, but let’s try anyway!  Joel Schumacher, anatomically correct rubber suits, dumb stories and stylized settings are only a few reasons why Batman Forever and Batman and Robin ought to remain in the Dark Knight’s closet.  However, the number one, unforgivable offense for both of these actors is that neither truly bought in to this character to give it the seriousness it deserved.  They treated these movies as only paycheck films and it showed onscreen.

What to keep:  Before Robert Downey Jr.’s career took a hiatus thanks to substance abuse and rehab, he was already established, A-list talent that every media entity dubbed as one of the “next big things in Hollywood.”  Of course, blow can derail anyone’s career, but he came back with a vengeance thanks to the Iron Man franchise, and he did it by fully investing in his character and it produced a performance that will forever be linked to this man’s legacy.  Sure, Christopher Reeve did this as an unknown for Richard Donner’s Superman, but odds are that A-list talent has a higher batting average to hit one out of the park in any role for audiences.

Michael Keaton


What worked:  Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989 kick-started the contemporary love affair with and modern adaptations of comic book characters and stories.  It had a big production budget, bigger stars and encapsulated it all within a very dark, brooding and serious plot that brought the character closer to its roots than ever before.  Many were confounded with the casting of Keaton who was more established as a comic (ha-ha) actor at the time, but Burton witnessed this man’s ability when they worked together on Beetlejuice the year before.  Keaton yielded a performance that no one could have possibly predicted thanks to his Bruce Wayne persona that matched the trends of his past roles and a distinct Batman persona that was decidedly solemn, gruff and cold.  He also rarely flapped his lips in regards to anything while donning the cape.

What didn’t:  Hollywood is good at faking a lot of things.  It even made Michael Keaton look like he was some kind of martial arts master; well, kind of.  Keaton never has and never will be described as an action star, but the next Batman will always have the need to be depicted as very physical on the screen through stunt work and combat sequences.  It’s not necessarily that Keaton’s action didn’t work in ’89, but that it won’t work for Justice League moving forward.

What to keep:  Michael Keaton represents the antithesis of the two men who followed in this role.  When it comes to the nature of a performance, there’s clearly no equation to separate “successful” from “unsuccessful,” but this is why casting is a tricky art form in and of itself.  One makes a decision to fill out a role based on an actor’s history of work and the energy he or she brings to an audition.  Open-mindedness is the key lesson in appreciating Michael Keaton as Batman which applies to the casting of either established talent or a new face entirely.  I also would like to see the resume of whoever will be charged as the casting director for Justice League because if movies like the Star Wars prequels, Ghost Rider and Daredevil are credited to this person, we should all brace ourselves for JL.

Christian Bale


What worked:  He’s easily the most skilled actor to ever play this role and outside of his natural talent, has an entire history of completely selling out for just about every role he plays as evidenced by the extremes in physical conditioning he has subjected his body to over the years.  He made me fall in love with Batman again thanks to Christopher Nolan’s more realistic interpretation of the character.  He’s an Academy Award winning actor who kicks ass onscreen.  There really isn’t much of that going on in Hollywood; ever!

What didn’t:  Oh dear, Bale’s “Batman” voice was awful!  He stumbled on to it about halfway through Batman Begins and never let go for the rest of the trilogy.  I understand the need for the character to obscure his identity, but could we get the man a vocal coach for that?  “Swear to me!”  Sheesh!  It makes me cringe even now.

What to keep:  When push comes to shove, the actor must make the character his or her own.  It doesn’t take a great actor to yield a great performance, but it certainly takes a great effort to do so.  JL’s Batman will have some big shoes to fill, and that person had better not be intimidated in the least, otherwise the performance will suffer and sour the entire franchise.  Bale’s confidence as an actor is nigh unmatched, and while the next Batman doesn’t have to be as proficient, I’d like him to at least be on the same path as an accomplished actor.  Desire and dedication are absolute musts here.

Kevin Conroy


What worked:  What?  A voice-over actor you say?  What’s he doing here?  True Bat-Fans know this man as one of the most iconic voices for comic book characters next to his co-star Mark Hamill’s rendition of the Joker.  He’s voiced the Dark Knight in Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Arkham City and Asylum, DC Universe Online, and most of the direct-to-video DC animated features like the most recent Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.  The best voice-over actors are masters at manipulating their voice, and one of Conroy’s often overlooked skills was his distinct differentiation between Bruce Wayne’s voice and his alter ego’s.  His voice brings so much life to Batman that it would be remiss to disregard his contributions to the character and is easily one of the best portrayals of Batman ever.

What didn’t:  Animation is limiting due to the obvious nature of the medium, but in Conroy’s case, this is actually a benefit.  The man looks nothing like Bruce Wayne/Batman.  Voice-actors also have less say in the organic evolution of a performance as they are constantly being given direction over the headset in a sound booth.  An actor can only control so much when they are being told to “do it this way,” as opposed to live action where several actors over the years have clashed with their directors/producers over creative differences because their embodiment of their characters gave them more political power during production.

What to keep:  Never underestimate the importance of the voice.  Christian Bale’s weakness is Kevin Conroy’s strength, and the next Batman has got to own intimidation, the bass, the staccato and the diction.  No pressure.


That was the easy part.  Now comes what websites all over the globe love to get into and that is the theoretical casting call for who the next Batman could and possibly should be for the Justice League franchise on film.  It seems a daunting task because there really isn’t a clear cut choice in Hollywood, but that assumes no one in the current talent pool is capable of a quantum leap in ability and performance.  

Here are five suggestions in no particular order:

Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger, The Social Network)


Strengths:  I still can’t believe that this is his real name, but regardless, this actor has consistently been in the rumor mill for this role, and it’s pretty obvious for some reasons.  Besides the fact he’s 6’5”, 220 and there’s two of him, the man clearly has the right kind of body to step into the cape.  I felt that the dramatic acting he displayed in J. Edgar is proof enough that he has the ability to be as serious with a role as he wants to be.  His face is also attractive enough to sell billionaire, playboy Bruce Wayne without selling out as a stereotypical Hollywood boy toy that loses Bat-Fans everywhere.

Concerns:  The Lone Ranger tanked and he had Johnny Depp’s help.  This doesn’t bode well for his ability to aid in the helming of a franchise.  Taylor Kitsch knows exactly what I’m talking about, and this leads me to my primary concern for Armie.  How much would he really want this role?  I see desire as somewhat lacking in this actor because he’s already shown the ability to act in different genres, so who knows how much he would want to buy into a franchise that will monopolize his life for a number of years into the future.  Armie Hammer makes a lot of sense on paper for the next Batman, but I’m not sold on his ability to truly commit to this role.  Tonto knows what I’m talking about. 

Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike, True Blood)


Strengths:  This gentleman will be the only member (ahem) of the cast of Magic Mike that should ever be seriously considered to be the next Batman due to the fact that his face, physicality, size, shape, voice and demeanor make him one of the few bodies out there that I could see standing toe to toe with Henry Cavill.  He has all the tools needed to thrive in this role, and he has demonstrated the acting ability to be intense for both action and drama.

Concerns:  But, can Joe pull said intensity inside to yield the wounded loner and solemn respectability?  Can he project intelligence, stratagem, leadership and experience?  Supposing Warner Bros. wants this type of Batman to contrast with Cavill’s youth and inexperience, I’m sure Joe is capable once he puts that costume on, but his repertoire is not quite on par with that of Christian Bale.  Limited experience and ability are the main concerns here.

Karl Urban (Dredd, Star Trek)


Strengths:  Karl has a much better gruff voice than Bale could ever possibly wish for, and he certainly has the acting chops to pull off this role.  His look is also right in line with both the Bruce Wayne and Batman personas.  He also has a very respectable history of work in these types of action and CG-heavy films that would make him that much more comfortable on set.  He owns the concept of deadpan intimidation.

Concerns:  Dredd was not a homerun for me, and that character is pretty close to what most Hollywood productions will make Batman look like.  Karl will also have to hit the gym to buff out a little because being tone might work for Star Fleet, but even Batman’s body armor needs a bit more.  I would love for Urban to use Hugh Jackman’s work out regiment, but that kind of commitment might be outside of this actor’s asking price.

Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Gamer)


Strengths:  This gentleman’s name has been tossed around the internet in connection with this topic for a while, and I didn’t quite see the connection at first, but the shear deviousness he demonstrates in Dexter proves he has more than enough “dark” for the Dark Knight.  He has also demonstrated the ability to project an ordered and scientific persona which relates to Batman quite well.  The overall acting ability is there for Michael to be the next Batman.

Concerns:  Michael has recently been undergoing treatment for Cancer and the disease is now in remission, but the physical requirements for this role may be too much of a burden for this actor.  Even a modest training regiment could be unreasonable and that instantly hurts his chances.  He also comes up a little short in the stature department as well as the look of his face.  No offense to him personally, but I’ll come right out and say it: his ears are just too damn big!  

Jon Hamm (Mad Men, The Town)


Strengths:  If I had to pick one man, right now, to be the next Batman, Jon is it.  He’s got the total package: the looks, the ability and the size.  He’s a little older than some of the other actors I’ve suggested here, but I’ve always felt Batman should be older than Superman because he’s always seemed to represent the voice of experience in the hero game when these two come together.  Jon has the ability to be in any kind of movie he wants which is stunning how his appearances continue to seem limited to me.  It could be he’s genuinely not interested in his offers or it could be AMC’s contractual situation has him chained in their basement.  Either way, if I was casting, the role would be his if he wanted it.  Who knows how to act like a suave debonair better than Don Draper?

Concerns:  As good of shape as he is in; the gym is the first stop for Mr. Hamm.  However, this is usually the case for just about any role in an action film and something to which I’m sure he’s accustomed.  Being well into his acting career might demonstrate a lacking desire and or energy to get involved in such a project, but that would be something for him to decide.  He’s also not had an opportunity to demonstrate physicality in terms of hand to hand fisticuffs in many of his projects, but good stunt choreography could address this.  


This is not the be all and end all to Batman’s possibilities, and the questions will only begin to be answered when the cast for the Batman/Superman movie is announced.  We can all hope that “the right decision” is made, but whoever gets tapped will only begin their challenging journey because the proof will be in the final product.  For better or worse, this decision will be binding for Warner Bros. who could ill afforded a series of recasting in this iconic role which would be interpreted by the viewing public as stumbling into the Justice League franchise as opposed to marching in with heads held high as Marvel did for The Avengers.  

As for the rest of the rumored actors in line to be the next Batman, I will make short-SHORT commentary in regards to why they should NOT be Batman:

Ryan Gosling (too mopey)

James Franco (too busy looking in the mirror)

Bradley Cooper (too eccentric)

Michael Fassbender (he’s Magneto)

Joseph Fiennes (too old and too British)

Wes Bentley (not enough talent)

Tom Cruise (WAY too crazy, and old)

Andrew Lincoln (too busy with The Walking Dead)

Stephen Dorff (too skinny)

Josh Holloway (isn’t he supposed to be Solid Snake?)

Matt Bomer (too pretty)

Channing Tatum (the male version of Megan Fox)

Sam Witwer (who?)

Hugh Jackman (he’s Wolverine)

Any Hemsworth boy (contractually inaccessible)

Johnny Depp (um, no)

Jason Statham (too bald and too interested in generic action films)

Joel Edgerton (his face is too fat)

Sam Worthington (owned by James Cameron)

Chris Pine (he’s Captain Kirk)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (must have a Barry Bonds body transformation to apply)

Shia LaBeouf (come on, really?)

Ryan Reynolds (didn’t he already fail at a DC hero?)

Vin Diesel (not enough hair, talent or time)

Movie News Reviews Video Game News

The State of Hollywood 6: The Metal Gear Movie


The State of Hollywood 6:

The Reality of the Metal Gear Solid Movie

By: Lawrence Napoli 


What could go wrong?


When the Metal Gear Solid film adaptation was confirmed to be in the works at Konami’s 25th Anniversary of the video game franchise, I was very intrigued at the prospect of bringing one of the most cinematic game sagas to the silver screen.  I was also quite apprehensive of such lofty ambitions for the simple fact that Hollywood has blundered just about every gaming license it has gotten its greasy palms on, and I’d hate to see Kojima’s masterpiece sullied by anyone for any reason.  Just look what they did to Super Mario and he was a fat plumber who curb-stomped turtles to save a princess.  How can Hollywood possibly handle the “nuances, ideology [and] cautionary tales,” (quoting Avi Arad, himself) of global conspiracy by the military industrial complex to control the future of mankind via technology, genetics, economics and violence?  (Wait, isn’t that happening in real life now?)

The answer to that question is that none of the above really matters to Avi Arad or anyone else in Hollywood because there are greenbacks to be made and ravenous fan bases ripe for exploitation.  Hollywood’s goal is producing blockbuster gold in the form of a film that may or may not have something important to say about life, but is really more interested in wooing dollars out of our wallets with explosions. 

In many respects, the meat of Metal Gear’s story contains ideas that average blockbusters wouldn’t normally give a second thought to.  That is until the most recent culmination of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy (who, by the way, is the only director Kojima has mentioned interest in allowing to helm a Metal Gear adaptation).  Unfortunately, there is only one Chris Nolan and he will be too busy promoting the rest of DC’s alphas to Batman’s prominence on film.  Thus, [insert director here] inspires far less confidence in this project’s production which attracts a smaller pool of actors and other talented filmmaking professionals to the cause.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2964:]]Why Metal Gear and why now?

The entertainment industry seems to see Arad’s alliance with Columbia Pictures as a response to Ubisoft using its own production facilities to create an Assassin’s Creed adaptation starring Michael Fassbender.  I see it as Hollywood having sucked just about all the sellable juice from the comic book industry and it needs a new host to leach upon before it goes through a true “dry spell” of projects. 

The big four of the entertainment industry: music, movies, books and DVD’s are averaging between $30-60 billion dollars of annual, global revenue in their respective categories and the video game industry is on par with each of them.  This simply wasn’t the case 15 years ago, but considering the constant evolution of the internet and the increased demand for user interactivity as a result; it stands to reason that gaming continues to be on the rise and more people regardless of age, gender and ethnicity are plugging in.  The best known franchises in gaming have high exposure for various consumer bases around the world, so considering Hollywood’s recent trend on focusing on global numbers (as opposed to [US] domestic profits), it makes perfect sense for more games to be remixed as movies.

Metal Gear, as a franchise, gives Hollywood everything it wants in an adaptation: relevance, popularity, violence and lots of opportunities for special effects.[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2965:]]  Yet history has shown there is no such thing as “a sure thing” so not every gaming icon makes perfect sense to invest in.  As marquee as Mario and Link are in videogames, neither could sell a contemporary blockbuster the way Solid Snake can because they are rooted in Nintendo’s stylized fantasyland which may not be for everyone above the age of 13.  Halo also generates high visibility, but a film adaptation might turn off an audience more interested in action as opposed to being bombarded with too much sci-fi jargon and exposition.  The same goes for Mass Effect and BioShock.  The only other contemporary franchise that might out shine Metal Gear as a potential film would be anything that bears the name of Call of Duty, but please note the similarities between the two: modern day/future warfare, modern day army tactics, modern day violence (with a slight sci-fi edge to Metal Gear).

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2966:]]Dollars, cents and “success”

Let’s just say there really isn’t a lot of success when it comes to movies based on video games (as there isn’t much success in games based on movies).  Hollywood measures its success in cash and despite the ever increasing cost of general admission and conspiratorial gimmicks like double the ticket cost for IMAX and Digital DLP projection, the industry is still not making the money it used to make.  Yes, consumer feedback is most directly reflected in the dollars they spend and when you observe mega-films like Avatar and The Avengers take home multiple billions of dollars worth in global ticket sales, it makes you wonder how Hollywood could ever be struggling.

Hollywood’s problem in general (and game adaptations in particular) is that “success” measured in dollars is a skewed statistic as a result of the aforementioned inflation and tricks.  Only focusing on the green has contributed to the overall decline in Hollywood’s product and whether you agree with that statement or not, the audience is showing disappointment due to its increased absence as the years go by.  When you go to the movies, how often do you sit in theaters that one would consider “full?”  When you talk to your friends about movies how often do complaints like “I’ve seen it all before,” and “they’ve run out of ideas,” come up in the conversation?  It all sounds very circumstantial and unquantifiable, but if we tracked the number of tickets sold (regardless of price) we would begin to see an alarming drop in patronage overall.

Why should any of this be important to Hideo Kojima and his Metal Gear franchise?  Acknowledging the rising cost and decreased business of Hollywood has[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2968:]] placed even more pressure on blockbusters to over perform at the box office and this increased scrutiny demands stricter adherence to the “Hollywood formula”: good writing and plot are sacrificed for big name actors, elaborate set pieces, visual effects and tons of explosions (essentially style over substance).  Even “the formula” cannot be considered foolproof, but no major studio will ever bankroll such a project unless “the formula” is in full effect.  Cue, (Sony) Columbia Pictures which owns 15.5% of movie market share and is 2nd only to Warner Bros. in pure blockbuster production power.  Big money is already behind this Metal Gear project, but accepting it implies the complete submission to whatever Hollywood says the movie will be.  In the words of Amanda Connor regarding the adaptation of her husband’s Jonah Hex: “You don’t handle Hollywood.  Hollywood handles you!”  Sorry Kojima-san, you’ve just been kicked out of the writer’s room.


Kojima approved” may be irrelevant in the Metal Gear adaptation.

Why it will fail!

Three words: TACTICAL, ESPIONAGE, ACTION!  That is the subtitle for every Metal Gear Solid game and it designates to the player exactly what this fiction is all about in addition to the order of importance of each of these elements have within the story.  Hollywood’s “formula” dictates quite the opposite by forcing the film to be focused on action/effects, rated PG-13 and entirely unconcerned with social commentary.  When the base philosophical difference between the source material and the adaptation is that far apart, how on Earth could Avi Arad speak so smugly about staying true to Metal Gear’s “nuance and ideology?”


This is a sneaking mission Snake.  The goal here is gathering information, so apply appropriate tactics.

Metal Gear Solidis not about war.  War has changed.  War is the escalating cost of gasoline and energy.  War is hacking databases to steal identities.  War is Chinese banks buying up American debt.  War is corporations over people.  War is the race to do things better, faster and cheaper than the other guy.  War is less about proxy battles fought on foreign soil and more about the concept of human struggle and how interconnected every individual is in our daily toils as we live our lives.  THAT is Metal Gear Solid.  THAT is the story of Solid Snake: a super soldier coming to grips with how his warrior code of honor and discipline is completely at odds with his chain of command and the true authority behind it.  It is a case study in refined, character driven drama where even individuals of immense power still answer to another; slaves to causality; chess pieces playing out their roles.  The trick is they are all discovering this truth and not everyone likes it.

Solid Snake running around for two hours blowing sh*t up has 0% chance of producing a story that approaches any of the above. 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2971:]]How it might succeed

The right people have to be recruited for the creative positions in this kind of production: writers, actors, crew and F/X.  They must be led by a director that becomes intimate with the source material and creates a vision that he or she will not allow producers or executives to compromise.  [Insert director here] is not well versed in having a spine, let alone creating a vision worth buying into.  This is the reason why there are so many directors you have never heard of and will never hear from again.  Any old person will not do to direct this adaptation.

Mechs must be fully animated, but discipline must be maintained so as not to turn Metal Gear into Transformers.  One easy step in accomplishing this feat is by completely forgetting Michael Bay (or his agent) exists.  The second step is putting serious thought into the final battle which involves Snake vs. Liquid who is piloting the mechanical behemoth, Metal Gear Rex.  As ridiculous as 1 man fighting a robot the size of a house is, planning the action in a way that is not “over the top” is the only way the climax of this film (and Rex specifically) doesn’t come off as stupid.  Of course, that’s assuming the director wants to play out the final confrontation in the same manner as the game.  The answer to this situation becomes a little less daunting so long as “tactical” and “espionage” continue to prevail over “action.”


My name is Rex, not Grimlock!

Finally, the right actor must be cast for Solid Snake.  Certainly, Metal Gear features one of the most colorful casts in the history of fiction, but the story is very singular in perspective and Solid Snake is the man.  The internet has an interesting list of potential leading men such as Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Sean Bean, Viggo Mortensen and Matt Damon (sorry David Hayter, you are invited to play some role on the film, but you can’t be Snake).  My particular problem with these high profile, A-listers is that just about all of them have already represented iconic characters recently and franchise fatigue is inevitable.  This affects both the actor’s performance as well as the audience’s ability to accept the actor in the role.  I am most intrigued with the mentioning of Josh Holloway who is most remembered for his role on Lost.  I like the fact that he has as much to gain from the role of Solid Snake as the role does from his performance.  He certainly looks the part, but can he act it?  Also, can he completely delete his southern accent?  Both of which are vital to creating a viable, Solid Snake.  I won’t give Josh my official endorsement, but the mitigating circumstances I just mentioned place him higher on the list than anyone else.



Adapting Metal Gear is not the slam dunk many would make it out to be.  Otherwise, it would have already happened.  It certainly presents a high risk/high reward scenario provided the creators approach this film with the intention of keeping it unique from other war/sci-fi/action films.  It also presents a low yield/heavy backlash scenario if the adaptation simply sucks.  I am not certain Kojima’s ego would survive such an outcome and I’d hate to have him stare that possibility down up close and personal.  And perhaps that is the reason we haven’t seen this game in Hollywood scripts up to now.  However, with the upcoming release of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (developed by Platinum Games) and Kojima’s desire to move into the producer’s chair for future Metal Gear Solid games, it seems he is being less possessive of his brainchild.  Ironically, Snake and Kojima share the same problem of trust as both consider themselves to be true professionals that rely on their own efforts rather than others.  Still, it’s much easier for a man to move mountains with the help of other men.

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