Reserving Judgments is a Matter of Infinite Hope: Regarding Batman, The Joker, and Their Fans

On the first page of The Great Gatsby, narrator Nick Carraway tells us about a piece of advice his father gave him: “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”  Carraway goes on to tell us that he attempts to reserve all judgments but that, unfortunately, “reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.”

It seems that infinite hope is what the world needs now, at least the world of fans who worry about their sacred heroes.  In a previous post, I complained about the legions of fans who cry out in either joy or dismay every time they hear a piece of news about a favorite franchise.  These days, much of the focus in on two upcoming projects: Suicide Squad and Batman vs Superman, both films that take place in the new DC Cinematic Universe.  Suicide Squad features Jared Leto as the Joker, while BVS has Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne, who, as we all know, is Batman (and is now known as Batfleck).

Naturally, some people are very excited about these things, and others are upset.  You can see the reddit comments in the /r/batman subreddit, where apparently people can’t handle the idea of The Joker having tattoos.

This is the photo that got everyone all worked up.
This is the photo that got everyone all worked up.

Now, I’ll be honest: I don’t really think The Joker looks super cool.  Definitely not the way I would choose to portray him.  But you know what?  Every time I think that’s not what I would do, I remember that a) I thought Heath Ledger was a bad choice for The Joker, and b) when I saw the first teaser trailer for The Dark Knight, I thought it looked cheesy and that Ledger’s disembodied voice laughing didn’t really work.

This is what I’m referring to:

And I was 100% wrong.

Heath Ledger was not only an amazing Joker, but The Dark Knight is still one of my favorite movies.  And I’m not the only one who thought he’d be a disaster.  So that’s why I remind myself of Fitzgerald’s words: try to find that infinite hope in order to reserve those judgments for when you’ve actually seen the movie.  Not only does it make no sense to dislike or criticize a work before you’ve actually experienced it but, by making those judgments in advance, you set yourself up to reinforce your own prejudices.

And finally, I like the idea of Jared Leto’s Joker being entirely different from Heath Ledger’s.  New stories should seek to reimagine their predecessors and source material, rather than simple recreate what came before.  It’s the same reason that I’m relieved that Christian Bale and Joseph Gordon Levitt and Michael Caine have no roles in the new films.  Reboots should be thorough and all-encompassing.  The Dark Knight trilogy worked because of how completely it reimagined Batman.  And, in order for the new films set in the extended Batman universe to work, we need to reimagine again.  And if Jared Leto’s performances in American Pscyho, Fight Club, Panic Room, Requiem for a Dream and The Dallas Buyers’ Club aren’t enough to convince you that he’s perfectly capable of playing The Joker, even if he doesn’t look the way you want, then you should probably just wait to see it instead of sulking about it.

It is a little disappointing that Bale and Leto aren't playing Batman and Joker at the same time, as it could be a fun encore to their American Psycho characters.
It is a little disappointing that Bale and Leto aren’t playing Batman and Joker at the same time, as it could be a fun encore to their American Psycho characters.

As far as Ben Affleck as Batman?  Sure, people have lost their minds over that one, but all those complaints seem to basically just be that Ben Affleck isn’t Christian Bale.  Or that he was in the 2003 Daredevil film, and it was terrible.  Or that he needs Matt Damon to be in all his movies.  But let’s return to the entire concept of this post: we haven’t seen the movie yet.  There is no way to know if it will be good or not.  But outrage in advance?  Because of casting announcements and photos from set?  Pretty childish, you guys.

So let’s all just relax and get worked up about the movies we’ve already seen, rather than the ones that aren’t even out yet.


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