Producer Michael Uslan is no stranger to fanboy unrest. As possibly the first person in Hollywood to take Batman seriously, it was a decade of hard work and campaigning before he got Batman to the big screen in the 1989 Tim Burton classic of the same name. Since that time, Uslan has stayed on as a producer of the character from the low-lows of Batman & Robin and nipples, to the Everest heights of The Dark Knight sequels. Now, he finds himself again in an era of transition as he comes on to produce Batman vs. Superman, just as fans wring their hands at the prospect that Zack Snyder has cast Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader. Uslan, had some soothing words for the fans on both counts when he talked with EP Daily about the project.
“I feel great. First of all, Zack’s a fanboy, and he loves these characters as much as any of us do,” Uslan told EP Daily. “Everybody grows as filmmakers, as actors, all of us in life, if we don’t continue to evolve, something is radically wrong. It’s so interesting to see the evolution for everybody involved and to see the evolution of Batman. It’s exciting and everybody is pumped up about it. It’s a chance for a new direction, and it’s going to be something that people, I think, will be just excited about.”
Uslan continued, “It starts with us. I’ve lived this in the past before and I’m speaking now really more as a Bat-fan than as the Bat-producer. We went through it all with Michael Keaton. I led the charge from the first time that I heard Tim was thinking of hiring Michael to play Batman. I’d go, ‘Oh my God, all that work, I’ve in all these years to do a dark and serious Batman! He’s going to hire a comedian!’ I could envision the posters: ‘Mr. Mom is Batman!’ But then he explained his vision. He had a vision, and he was right. This is all about Bruce Wayne. It’s not about Batman; it’s all about Bruce Wayne. If you’re trying to do a serious, dark superhero, people have to believe in Bruce Wayne as that obsessed, driven guy, to the point maybe of almost being psychotic. A guy who would get dressed up as a bat and do what he did. So, we went through the hoopla with Michael Keaton. The fans were the same reaction that I had initially, except I had the benefit of hearing a vision right away. Then when they actually went to see the movie, they never wanted anyone else to play Batman, never.”
Uslan goes on in the below video to also compare the casting backlash to that of Heath Ledger (once referred to as “the gay cowboy”) playing the Joker. Uslan astutely draws the parallel of fans reacting harshly to an accomplished actor—or also filmmaker in Affleck’s case—due to the surprise of the situation. Uslan again draws a parallel to Keaton and Burton, and how Burton said it is all about Bruce Wayne. That is also Snyder’s logic in casting Affleck as a grizzled, 40-something Batman veteran.