How ‘Fifty Shades’ is similar to ‘Batman’ (and why everyone needs to calm down and trust the filmmakers)!

Fifty Shades of Grey (Image Credit: EL James) / Charlie Hunnam (Image Credit : FX) / Dakota Johnson (Image Credit: FOX)
Fifty Shades of Grey (Image Credit: EL James) / Charlie Hunnam (Image Credit : FX) / Dakota Johnson (Image Credit: FOX)

“Are you kidding? Is he serious?? How dare he say that?!” I know, it’s a pretty bold title, but just wait a sec…since the wheels have officially started to roll on the Fifty Shades of Grey movie with the recent casting of Dakota Johnson (The Social Network, 21 Jump Street) and Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim, Sons of Anarchy) as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in the long-awaited film adaptation of the erotic novel by E.L. James, there’s been backlash. Like a lot backlash – to the point of an online petition rallying against the lead actors, demanding the filmmakers change the roles, preferably to the much-chatted about Matthew Bomer (Magic Mike, White Collar) and Alexis Bledel (Mad Men, Gilmore Girls). But like the recent casting of Ben Affleck as Batman, naturally there is going to be an outcry among fans when a certain actor or actress takes on a coveted fictional character within pop culture. So, also like the recent casting of Ben Affleck as Batman, let’s take a second to step back and look at the upcoming adaptation and five reasons Fifty Shades of Grey could work.

Director Sam Taylor-Johnson

A relatively unknown director, Taylor-Johnson helmed the critically-acclaimed 2009 film Nowhere Boy, which followed John Lennon’s troubled childhood. Also interestingly enough, Taylor-Johnson was behind the camera for a small film called Destricted, a 2006 compilation movie that consisted of several short erotic films that sought to highlight points where art meets sexuality. The trailer tagline reads “Warning  – contains strong, real sex and strobe effects.” – just thought that was necessary to mention. Could this known fact contribute to the reason Universal courted her? Probably. So, the director, who is also a serious photographer, could bring a fresh perspective to this wildly-anticipated blockbuster.

Producers’ credits

Other notable members behind the camera include producers Dana Brunetti and Michael DeLuca, who have excellent track records with production creds on other films such as The Social Network and American History X. Both of those films are brilliant, and it would be really excellent to see them bring a realist, social aspect to the infamous erotic story of S&M and bondage.

The screenwriter

Kelly Marcel, creator of the somewhat successful FOX series Terra Nova and the promising Saving Mr. Banks (to be released later this year) about Walt Disney’s production of Mary Poppins , starring Tom Hanks, seems like a relatively safe bet.

The cast

The charming Dakota Johnson, daughter of Melanie Griffith (Working Girl, Mulholland Falls) and Don Johnson (Eastbound & Down, Nash Bridges) and the very attractive Charlie Hunnam, may not necessarily look like Steele and Grey now, but with a little hair dye and wardrobe changes, who knows? Hunnam proved he could take on the role of leading man this summer in Pacific Rim, so it would make sense for him to seduce that rather inexperienced Johnson, no?

The studio knows what it’s doing

Look, the studio realizes this material is huge, so they’re going to take their time. The filmmakers have a vision/interpretation/role for the actors in mind and they will do their best to make them fit those roles.  Also, author James is onboard as a producer, so my guess is the film won’t stray too far from the material. I’m also curious to see how an erotic novel will be translated to the screen without being….X-rated? Are they going to take a route a la Boogie Nights? We’ll just have to wait and see!

In conclusion, like the casting of Affleck as Batman, everyone needs to calm down. People are going to go see it regardless, even with the (ridiculous) petition, and as everything seems to be on schedule and running efficiently, no difficulties seem foreseeable for the film at this time.  Fifty Shades of Grey is slated to be released on August 1, 2014.

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Jesse Tabit is a native of Charleston, WV. He studies journalism at West Virginia University.

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