The internet is abuzz today with Matt Damon’s comments in The Times of India — and we don’t mean the headline-grabbing news that he likes spicy Indian food. For some reason, the media has breezed right past Damon’s thoughts on saag paneer and latched onto his thoughts about his longtime pal Ben Affleck snaring the role of Batman:
I think it will be great. It will be terrific. I know there are a lot of people grousing on the internet. I just think it’s kind of funny. You know, he’s not playing King Lear. It’s Batman! Certainly within his skill set. If anybody saw Argo or The Town, and all the work he’s been doing lately, it’s way more nuanced and interesting and way more difficult than Batman! Batman just sits there with his cowl over his head and whispers in a kinda gruff voice at people. Bruce Wayne is the more challenging part of the role, and Ben will be great at that.
Fair enough, Matt Damon: Batman isn’t King Lear. But what about Macbeth? Or Hamlet? Did you know there’s an X-Men mutant named Caliban, who was named for a character in The Tempest? Or that the Beast is fond of quoting Shakespeare, and Kesley Grammer compared the character to not one but three Shakespeare characters? Or that Ian McKellan has played both Lear and Magneto? Or that actors and superheroes both frequently wear tights? Huh? Didja?
Now, we’re not saying that The Dark Knight Returns belongs in the pantheon with Richard III (Year One, maybe). But separating the overheated idiom of the superhero genre from Elizabethan verse isn’t as easy as it sounds. Give this Sporcle quiz a whirl and see if you can tell your Troilus and Cressida from your Batman Begins — then think about which you’d rather hear Ben Affleck intone. (If the quiz doesn’t display properly in your browser, you can find the original here.)