Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Next Batman villians cast - and I am wary

So the Hollywood press is now reporting that Anne Hathaway will be Selina Kyle and Tom Hardy will be Bane in Christopher Nolan's third and final entry in his "Batman" reboot.


This "Shortpacked!" script describes my
feelings on Frank Miller perfectly.

As you might expect, I'm a big fan of Kyle and I'm thrilled to see someone rescue her from the crap heap that was the Halle Berry movie. However -- given Nolan's issues with female characters and the fact that he's basing a lot of his reboot on the writings of Frank Miller, I'm a little bit concerned that he's just going to make it worse. Berry's Catwoman strapped on that ridiculous outfit and slogged through even more ridiculous dialogue, yes, but she also had a personality and a job that didn't revolve around her tits. Frank Miller's version famously erased her independent cat burglar/bounty hunter origins and turned her into a dominatrix prostitute.

Still, I'm willing to give Nolan the benefit of the doubt on Selina Kyle. Anne Hathaway doesn't seem like the prostitute type, so he could very well be going in a different direction. Let's hope so.

The casting of Tom Hardy -- who played the forger Eames in Nolan's "Inception" -- presents a different problem. Now, I like Hardy a lot and when he was rumored to be involved in the project I crossed all my fingers and toes that they'd get him signed. (Also, apparently once you've acted in one of Christopher Nolan's movies and have proven to not be a complete asshat, you're going to act in all ze movies. For some reason I find that utterly charming.)

Taken individually, the choice of Bane as the villian in the third and final (?) Nolan film also makes sense. Bane is known as the only man who "broke the Bat" after he cracked Batman's spine in 1993, an event that's recent enough in comic book history that 20-something year old comic fans will remember it from their childhood with nostalgia. Yet Bane has an intriguing gray-area morality that actually had him working with Batman at times -- just like Selina Kyle. If they go with that characterization for them both, it'd make for a very interesting setup.

One problem. Or, well, uno problemo.

Bane is explicitly Hispanic. He was born on the fictional South American island Republic of Santa Prisca. He wears a wrestler's mask.

Tom Hardy? Yeah, Tom Hardy's pretty damn white.

Whitewashed casting stopped being cool when M. Night Shamayalan pulled that shit. It's not even the first time Nolan's done this, either: I'll give him the whitewashing of Ra's al Ghul in "Batman Begins," because who wants to see an Arabic terrorist blowing up Gotham? But Eric Roberts and Tom Wilkinson were both pretty damn white to be playing Mafia bosses.

Mr. Nolan, I raise a skeptical eyebrow at you.


  1. Billy Dee Williams played Harvey Dent in Tim Burton's Batman in 1989. Halle Berry played Catwoman. Michael Clarke Duncan played Wilson Fisk in Daredevil. All of these are white characters played by black actors. Linda Hunt played a man in "Year of Living Dangerously" and won an Oscar for it. When stories are adapted for the big screen, they are ADAPTED. Don't get too hung up on what has come before and judge what is to come on it's own merits.

  2. @Hoeech:

    Thank you for your comment. There are a couple of problems with your argument. First and foremost, none of the characters you mentioned were significantly changed by their casting. Their race changed, but their cultural ethnicity did not. With the Hardy-as-Bane casting, they're either going to have a lily-skinned Brit running around in a wrestling mask, saying "animale" and "Osito," or they're going to completely erase his Hispanic background and significantly alter his character in order to turn him non-white.

    Secondly, you mention three examples, dating back to 1989, of white characters turning non-white. Unfortunately, I can list three examples of whitewashed casting in the last two Batman movies alone. A few instances of colorblind casting do not erase the heavy prevalence of whitewashing in such films as The Last Airbender, Prince of Persia, Starship Troopers, Wanted, and 2010.

    Furthermore, the act of switching a character's race from white to non-white does not have the same cultural impact as the reverse. Characters of color are few and far between in mass media; to erase one is to decrease an already-endangered populace.