Look, we don't mean to pile on. We understand a lot of people worked very hard on these movies. But sometimes you just look at an actor being cast in a role and you say to yourself, "Okay, so not only is this person wrong for the role, but the process by which they appear to have been chosen is just lazy and absurd." Some fans have accused Warner Bros. of doing this in casting Ben Affleck as Batman. "They're going for box office!" claim detractors who ignore the fact that Affleck's biggest draw these days is not as a blockbuster actor. Whatever went into that decision, we're willing to assume it's a decision that was--for good or ill--made for creative reasons. We'll see how it pans out for them. But the moves that follow? They shouldn't ever have been made. And you'll see why in a minute.
Josh Brolin (and Megan Fox) as Jonah Hex (and Lilah) Studio Executive 1: "Hey! We've got a Hollywood pretty boy with a kind of a hard edge! Is there some bad-ass action role we can throw him in?" Studio Executive 2: "Well, we've got a script about a tortured, horribly-scarred bounty hunter with almost no redeeming qualities..." Studio Executive 1: "SOLD!" Look, Brolin is a good actor. He even made a half-decent comic book movie in the form of Men in Black 3, or at least turned in a half-decent performance in a mediocre comic book movie. But he was self-evidently wrong for Jonah Hex, and how his agent let him get suckered into that dog of a script to begin with is impossible to understand. It seemed that, riding high off a number of recent appearances and secure in his status as one of Hollywood's most in-demand male leads, Brolin was willing to do any old crap and Warners was happy to put him in any old crap just to have his name on a poster. And don't get me started on Megan Fox.
Halle Berry as Catwoman That Berry may be objectively the best actress ever to play Catwoman, and that nobody will ever in a million years call her the best Catwoman, is probably everything you need to know, in terms of why this was terrible casting. I mean--holy God, this was a terrible movie. And a terrible idea from start to finish, really. You start out making a sequel to Batman Returns and ultimately don't get around to making the film until years later. Batman Returns is no longer a movie that people remember, but that doesn't matter much because the movie has been rewritten so many times by so many people that it doesn't resemble the original script. But you've invested too much time and money in this thing to just let it go gentle into that good night, so you go for a Hail Mary pass: Halle Berry, one of the most marketable and beloved actresses in the world, fresh off an Academy Award-winning turn in Monster's Ball (starring future Joker Heath ledger, no less). But it's a piece of casting that doesn't make any sense in the context of the character. Berry is best when she's vulnerable and emotional, and neither one are things that the manipulative, conniving Catwoman is particularly known for. And no, that Berry isn't quite doesn't really enter into this equation; audiences know about the 1966 Batman series and are fairly used to Catwoman being played by the actress who captures what's needed for the character rather than just somebody who looks like the drawing. Berry was poor casting because it was self-evidently poor casting and it became a bad performance because she was emphasizing all the wrong things.
Famous actors play Batman, and that's fine. I mean, since the character first came to the live-action feature-film arena in 1989, there hasn't been a single actor cast for the role on the big screen where you couldn't say "The guy from _________," and get the listener behind who you meant. Entertainment Weekly this week discusses it, saying that it may be an unknown helps you relate to Superman, since you don't see them as another character, while a star helps you relate to Batman since the mask dehumanizes him a bit and the familiarity of celebrity puts the viewer at ease. In any event, this feels a lot like another one of those "We've got a big star and a big movie. Let's get them together and damn whether they make sense together or not" things. Clooney has done a LOT of big movies and they're rarely flops, but his Batman film was arguably the biggest stage he ever played on and it not only flopped, but he wasn't good in it. We talked earlier today about how Michael Clarke Duncan pulled a great performance out of bad movies like Green Lantern and Daredevil, but Clooney's Batman was the opposite. Rather than elevating bad material, he seemed to sink to its level.
Jim Carrey as The Riddler Carrey, the biggest comic star on the planet at the time, took a role in Schumacher's Batman Forever and just hammed up the joint. And that's fine--the Schumacher movies were pretty campy, so hammy acting is probably to be expected. The problem is, he didn't particularly fit with the rest of the cast. Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face may not have been perfect casting, but tonally his performance seemed to fit the movie better. I remember, even as a teenager, watching this film and just thinking "Dear Lord, Ace Ventura, shut up for a minute" while Carrey vamped and preened his way through his scenes. Of course, in a lot of ways, he fit with what came next, and with the plot. So maybe it was just everyone else in the movie who was horribly miscast and Jim Carrey was the lynchpin?
Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye This one won't be popular on the Facebook page. The rest of these movies are objectively just films that didn't work for whatever reason, usually an unsalvageable script, But Jeremy Renner has played Hawkeye in a pair of highly-praised films. So what's he doing on the list? I don't know. What's he doing in those movies? The performances he's turned in were a forgettable cameo in Thor and undoubtedly the weakest performance in The Avengers. Yeah, he may complain that he wasn't given a lot to work with in Whedon's super-throwdown, but that didn't stop Stellan Skarsgård from doing just fine.