Wednesday, February 25, 2004

More good casting news about the new Batman film was released yesterday:
    The Hollywood Reporter is now stating that Ken Watanabe has been cast in Christopher Nolan's BATMAN movie. Watanabe will reportedly be playing the part of the criminal mastermind R'as al Ghul, arch-nemesis to the Dark Knight.

    The Japanese actor is up for a Best Supporting Actor this coming weekend for his performance in THE LAST SAMURAI.

This is very, very cool. Watanabe was far and away the best thing about The Last Samurai (a film I really enjoyed, in spite of the woman sitting next to me who kept describing what was happening onscreen to herself -- "Oh, they're riding horses!" "They're fighting with swords!" and so on...) and I'm sure he'll do a great job playing the last great Batman villain.

But the fanboy ranting has already begun, as you can see here:

    But hasn't Ra's always been European?

    Also, does anyone know how good Watanabe's English is? It was heavily-accented but understandable in TLS; it's possible that his American accent is much better and he was merely pulling a Lambert Wilson for the dramatic effect. Oh well; at least it guarantees he'll sound cool calling Bale "detective".

    Does this mean that Talia will also be Japanese, or what?

And here:
    Ra's is supposed to be of mixed Arabian blood, I believe. According to Julie, Ra's al Ghul is an Arabic phrase.

    What's funny here, of course, is that we see a character who actually belongs to a racial/ethnic minority, and Hollywood in its infinite wisdom casts a different racial/ethinicity.

As the philopospher Mike Nelson once said, what the hell?

I've always imagined Ra's as ethnically indeterminate, with a bloodline incorporating ethnicities and cultures that no longer exist. The guy's nigh-immortal, right? So why fix him to a particular ethnicity, and demand that in the casting, instead of being happy that a really, really good actor has been cast as the villain in a Batman film that just might not suck? There's no ethnicity that's essential to Ra's' (that doesn't look right...) character, so why not just go with someone who can bring the appropriate presence and menace to the role?

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