Ian Casselberry is a freelance writer, currently based in Asheville, NC. He is an editor at The Comeback and Awful Announcing

Previously, he has been a contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew, and SB Nation. In addition, he was a lead baseball writer for Bleacher Report. 

You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook, where he craves your attention.

He still plans to write that novel someday. 

("Pearls Before Swine" © 2005 Stephan Pastis)
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Entries in Batman (11)


Paying tribute to Batman on his 75th anniversary

If you didn't know, July 23 is Batman Day, as declared by DC Comics. The occasion is intended to recognize the 75th anniversary of the Dark Knight's comic book debut. So Happy Batman Day, everyone!

Given how much of my childhood (which probably ran up to my thirties, if it's even ended) comic book collection is made up of Batman comics, along with the Bat-related merchandise and DVDs I own, it's probably safe to say the Caped Crusader is my favorite comic book character.

(I hesitate to give him the nod over Spider-Man, however, who takes up the second-largest chunk of my collection. And as I get older, I relate far more to the Hulk.) 

To be fair, there's probably far more Batman merchandise out there than Spider-Man, though the gap has surely closed over the past 10-15 years. 

Naturally, I had to write something on Batman Day for The AP Party today. But my intention was not to write a love letter, so much as a tribute. Really, I wanted to write an appreciation for the 1966 TV show, which I loved, then hated, and now love again. I've been wanting to write about this for a while, but a 4th of July marathon on IFC cemented that feeling. 

My relationship, if you will, with the 1966 Batman series has been a complicated one. When I watched it as a kid on syndicated reruns after school, I loved it. These were my comic book heroes come to life. And the “POW!” “ZAP!” and “WHAM!” on the screen were like comic book panels put on the TV screen. It never occurred to me that the show was campy or goofy. Even if it did, I doubt I’d have cared. What mattered was that I could watch Batman on my TV.

You can read the whole article here.

Batman has hung from the rearview mirror of every car I've ever had, dating back 20 years now. He's my good luck driving charm — maybe not the hero I deserve, but the one I've always needed. 


25 years ago, 'Batman' hit theaters

On June 23, 1989, Tim Burton's Batman was released. I wrote about the movie (which holds up pretty well) and its cultural impact for The AP Party, which is something I've been eager to do for a few weeks. 

I saw the movie at the old Ann Arbor I and II theater on Fifth St., which no longer exists. (What is it now? Office space? I know it was a hookah bar, then a nightclub at various points.) I took the bus downtown to see the very first show.

I still remember the feeling of awe and anticipation when the opening credits rolled and the camera navigated through what looked like some kind of old tomb or lair, but turned out to be a stone cutout of the Batman logo. I don't think I'll ever have that feeling again at the movies. 

But check out the original trailer for the film. It's terrible — just clips from the movie assembled haphazardly. There's no story or flow to it. Trailers have come a long way, so much so that they're sometimes better than the actual movie. 


Fingers crossed for Fox's 'Gotham'

I know I've been quiet with the blog here. One big reason is that the pop culture stuff that I might normally post, such as a review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, has been going up at The AP Party. But I should still put shorter stuff here, when inspiration strikes. 

I've also been trying to keep AVL Tourists Trap, the supplementary blog to my weekly Asheville Tourists column for Ashvegas, updated semi-regularly. My role at The Outside Corner has changed a bit for the 2014 MLB season. I've been writing more news and quick-hit type of posts, in addition to my columns. That's been more fun for me. 

Anyway, that's where I've been for the past month. If you've been checking in for new stuff, I apologize for not keeping things interesting.

In the meantime, here's a trailer for Fox's new Batman-related show, Gotham. It looks promising — though I'm not a huge fan of Ben McKenzie, who's playing Detective (and future Commissioner) Jim Gordon. Showing the development of Batman's rogues gallery, in addition to Batman himself as a child, is intriguing.

I do believe I'll be watching this one, while hoping it's anything close to as good as the Gotham Central comic book from years ago. 

Thanks again for clicking over. I'll keep trying to do better.


Batman stars in 'Bounce'

This photo made me laugh more than it probably should have. But I’m hoping Batman doodles on Ben Affleck movies becomes a regular thing on the internet. 

Of course, it's really Gwyneth Paltrow leaning against Batffleck lovingly that sells this, isn't it? 

(via Slashfilm)


Ben Affleck as Batman? It works for this geek

I just wouldn't be true to myself if I didn't write at least a little something about the news that Ben Affleck is the new Batman, right? 

You know what? I like this choice. Maybe it wouldn't have been my first. If Josh Brolin was up for the role, as was rumored at one point, I would've liked to see that. I also thought Karl Urban would've been a sly choice, though maybe I just feel that way after watching him basically play a superhero in Dredd

The general sentiment — at least based on what I've seen on my Twitter and Facebook feeds — is that fans think this is a bad idea. And I get that, because Affleck hasn't done much good work as an actor. The guy had a pretty terrible run in the 2000s. Pearl Harbor, Gigli, The Sum of All FearsPaycheck

Of course, Daredevil (2003) has to be mentioned among those. Affleck has already played a masked superhero in a movie that wasn't very good. As a big Daredevil comic book fan, however, I would pin most of the blame for that film on director Mark Steven Johnson. He wrote a pretty bad script, trying to shoehorn in too many characters and canonical storylines into a two-hour film. 

However, Affleck has undergone something of a renaissance since becoming a director. Gone Baby Gone was outstanding. The Town wasn't quite as good, perhaps suffering from Affleck directing himself as an actor. (He's also built like a frickin' superhero in that movie.) Then there's Argo, which won the Oscar for Best Picture. 


Did Affleck do a good job as an actor in that movie? No, he didn't stand out as the lead character, Tony Mendez. But I think his job was to be sort of the straight man, letting John Goodman and Alan Arkin do their thing. During the hostage rescue in Iran, Mendez was supposed to be stoic, maintaining a calm demeanor for terrified civilians trying to escape. 

I'd argue that becoming a director has made Affleck a better actor. He's done some nice supporting roles in State of Play and The Company Men. David Fincher thinks enough of Affleck to have cast him as the male lead in the adaptation of Gone Girl, which is a pretty big deal. (That movie will come out in 2015, the same year as "Superman vs. Batman" — or whatever it ends up being called — by the way.) 

Directing two excellent films for Warner Bros. has certainly made Affleck a darling at that studio. You would think he could do just about anything he wants there now, but maybe playing Batman sealed the deal. Perhaps he's always wanted to play the role. Maybe Affleck received the proverbial offer he couldn't refuse. 

Affleck needs to be good as Batman and Bruce Wayne, though. Chances are he's going to play the character in more than one movie, given that this new team-up with Superman is a jumping-off point for a Justice League franchise. Maybe Affleck will even direct that one. Or a new solo Batman film, which is also surely in the plans. 

According to reports, director Zack Snyder and writer David Goyer have been looking for someone a bit older and with some gravitas to play Batman next to Henry Cavill's newer Superman. Going by that criteria, I think Affleck fits the bill pretty well.

He certainly looks the part. Affleck will be a great Bruce Wayne, one that could provide a slick, refined contrast to a Clark Kent still trying to define himself. He can also pull off someone who might fight dirty against a more virtuous Man of Steel.

The question is how Affleck will do once he puts on that Bat-suit. But really, how bad could he be there? The mask covers three-quarters of his face. He just needs to avoid looking foolish acting with his mouth.

Hopefully, Goyer's script and Snyder's direction guide Affleck along the right path — especially if there are quite a few exchanges of dialogue between Batman and Superman. And really, there could be plenty of philosophical clashes in that story, as these two heroes see the world and approach their work in very different ways. Presumably, that will be the foundation of this movie. 

Let's just hope Affleck he doesn't try to emulate Christian Bale's gravelly growl. That would be a huge, terrible mistake. 


Superman and Batman in a movie together? I don't like it

The big news from Comic-Con on Saturday was that Batman would be a part of the next Superman movie. The whole gang responsible for Man of Steel — notably director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David Goyer — will be back for this sequel. 

Tip the cap to DC Comics and Warner Bros., because that announcement completely overshadowed what Marvel Studios presented for the next Thor and Captain America flicks, Guardians of the Galaxy and even the Avengers sequel. 

Two of the biggest superheroes on the planet in the same movie? It's a geek wet dream. DC and WB had to come up with something bigger than The Avengers, and this might do it. Of course, Superman and Batman teaming up is a precursor to a Justice League movie, which could just blow everyone's mind.

Yet I don't necessarily have the feelings about this that you might expect.

I'm a Superman fan. I'm a Batman fan. I love comic books and superhero movies. However, I just don't think this is a very good idea. I won't go so far as to say I hate it, because that sounds like internet fanboy. But I really don't like this. 


I get that DC and WB are way behind Marvel when it comes to making superhero blockbusters. It has to kill WB that they have the far more recognizable superhero properties. Everyone knows who Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are. Go check out a Target toy department these days with its Justice League displays. Yet The Avengers are now the worldwide box office superstars. 

So WB wants to get the ball rolling toward an eventual Justice League film. But at this point, it would probably take three to four years for a blockbuster project like that to get made.

What can WB do in the meantime? Build anticipation by putting its two biggest characters in one movie. (The film will also get plenty of play from film and geek sites over the months to come by speculating on who could play the new Batman.) And maybe introduce others like The Flash in the process. 

As a business strategy, this is probably the right thing to do. As an artistic choice, however, I'm not so sure. Man of Steel just began establishing Superman as a character and the world he inhabits. The idea was to lay the groundwork for introducing the other DC superheroes, but introducing Batman into this world so soon feels premature. And, as Anne Thompson writes for Indiewire, it seems a bit desperate.

What it comes down to for me is that I just want another Superman movie. Batman has enough movies already. He got the three Christopher Nolan films, the two Tim Burton ones and the Joel Schumacher flicks that everybody wishes didn't exist. He's had at least three animated series that I can think of — more if you include the Justice League cartoon. 

But I want to see Snyder and Goyer build from what Man of Steel established. I want to see Superman deal with the consequences of what happened in that movie and hopefully grow into the heroic figure we're familiar with (the one many felt he wasn't in the latest movie). I want to see the new Lex Luthor and perhaps other classic Superman villains. 

Of course, all of that stuff can happen in whatever this new movie will be. Maybe introducing Batman is a part of that. Considering that Snyder had actor Harry Lennix (who played General Swanwick in Man of Steel) read a famous line from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns comic book, there's surely an excellent chance of that happening. 

One of the best things DC did when they rebooted their comic book like in the mid-80s was put Superman and Batman at odds, rather than have them be the best of friends as they'd been in the past.

These two characters have two completely different worldviews (even with the attempt to make Superman darker and more alienated) and it's only natural that they'd clash because of it. 

But the battle between Superman and Batman in The Dark Knight Returns had years of history and continuity behind it. Superman was sort of the bad guy in that story, basically established as a government stooge vs. Batman's anarchist.

I doubt that's the way Snyder and Goyer will go, because that shared history just hasn't been established yet. I'd love to see that story on screen someday, but not now.

I'd also love to see Superman and Batman on screen together, and I know it's an inevitability. My inner comic book geek will love it. There's a great history — best represented by the "World's Finest" comics — of teaming these two heroes up.

I just don't want to see it right now. It's too soon. 


Buying the Batmobile


My dream car sold for $4.62 million at the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction in Scottsdale last night.

Mike pretty much echoed my thoughts. 

If you watch a car on television as a kid and are able to purchase that exact iconic vehicle later in life, you're probably pretty successful in life. Or you've chosen a TV show with the worst piece-of-shit clunker ever that somehow holds appeal for you.

The man who purchased the Batmobile, Rick Champagne, said he planned to put it in his living room. His wife must be awesome. 

The Los Angeles Times has a photo gallery of the Batmobile under construction.

I would totally go to pick up my niece from preschool in the Batmobile. Although it doesn't really look car-seat friendly, which could be a problem. 

This is reminding me that I'm long overdue to watch The Dark Knight Rises on Blu-ray, which includes a documentary on the history of the Batmobile. 


Michael Keaton's interview with Marc Maron

Was Michael Keaton the best Batman? He was probably the best Bruce Wayne. Although could he have played the character created by Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale, which was much more physical? 

But Keaton's Bruce Wayne had the tortured thing down. He also seemed like he could go off the edge into Nutsville if pushed, which made his version so compelling. Plus, he was a little bit funny, which is something that the Nolan Batman films lacked. 

Keaton would be an interesting actor to me even if he'd never played Batman.

Night Shift was one of those movies I watched constantly on HBO — or whatever movie channel we had at the time — as a kid and even back then, I think I understood that Keaton's character was just a guy trying to get through a shitty job and make the world a little more fun.


Mr. Mom was intriguing to me, because I tried to picture my father doing that and he would've been a disaster. Gung Ho is a situation so many of us can probably relate to: adjusting to a new job — possibly a more lucrative one — without losing touch with who you are, even though you can see and feel it happening. 

(I can only imagine that the interpretations of these movies are way off, and some Michael Keaton expert is going to correct me. Or, I'll watch them and realize I completely misread them as a pre-adolescent.) 

Anyway, this is a long-winded way of saying that Keaton's interview with Marc Maron on the WTF podcast was a great listen. There's some really good stuff in there, as Keaton recaps his career, talks about the life of an actor and the craft of playing a role. 

Of course, they do get to Batman eventually and Keaton has some interesting tidbits to share.

For instance, even though he'd worked with Tim Burton before on Beetlejuice, Keaton didn't think he could play Batman because of his take on the character. (Keaton didn't read the comics, though Keaton gave him a copy of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.) 

"He's ridiculously depressed, he's a vigilante, he's got issues," Keaton said. "That's interesting if you're thinking about it as an actor, but nobody's gonna make that." 

But that's exactly the Bruce Wayne Burton wanted to do in his movie. 

Keaton admitted he's never seen all of the Nolan Bat-films, but from what he watched, he thought Christian Bale (and Nolan) didn't give himself anywhere to go with the character, in terms of his personality or his approach. 

I don't know if I agree with that. (Of course, I've watched the movies multiple times.) I feel like Bale's take on Bruce Wayne is someone who has created this mission for himself and let it define him. But he doesn't want to do it for the rest of his life. 

However, Keaton did say that he wanted to do an origin story or prequel for a third Batman movie. Unfortunately, Joel Schumacher had no interest in that, so Keaton walked. 

The whole interview is worth your time. And Michael Keaton should start doing more movies again. 


** Here's another interview Keaton did in May 2011 with the Los Angeles Times' Geoff Boucher.