by J.M. McNab
The news that Ben Affleck would play Batman in a new Batman/Superman movie has elicited a multitude of responses, including many negative ones. While some feel that he is altogether not right for the part, others wonder if he can overcome the stigma of some of his earlier roles, such as the failed comic book adaptation Daredevil. What is most troubling about this decision, however, is that it is indicative of a disturbingly frequent trend in Hollywood films: Whitewashing.
The character Affleck is set to play, Batman, is the alter-ego of billionaire Bruce Wayne, a man of Hispanic descent, whose real family name was Vasquez. The Waynes changed their last name upon emigrating to Gotham City from Tampico, Mexico years before Bruce was born.
Ben Affleck had this to say:
“…you know you wouldn’t necessarily select him out of a line of ten people and go ‘This guy’s Latino.’ So I didn’t feel as though I was violating some thing, where, here’s this guy who’s clearly ethnic in some way and it’s sort of being whitewashed by Ben Affleck the actor.”
Some members of Gotham City’s Mexican-American community do find the move disconcerting. Police officer Renee Montoya calls the decision to cast Affleck “insulting” and “offensive.”
While the charge of whitewashing remains in dispute, another controversy plagues the production. It seems Affleck’s character, Batman, may not have been responsible for all of the accomplishments the film’s script purports him to have made. Even Police Commissioner James Gordon admits that many of the events depicted in the screenplay for Batman vs. Superman happened, not to Batman, but to Tom Evans, AKA Captain Canuck.
Gordon calls Evans the “true hero”, and suggests that the re-appropriation of Captain Canuck’s life’s work into a Batman film was done in the service of crafting a story more palatable for American audiences, who mainly just like to see Americans doing American things, even when they didn’t actually happen that way.