Three days ago Warner Bros. and DC Comics announced that Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel. This news, contrary to what WB and DC had anticipated, was met with devastating backlash. Blogs, posts, forums, Facebook statuses, and tweets immediately took over the internet voicing their disgust, disappointment, and resentment with this decision. All you have to do is Google “Batfleck” and watch as hundreds of condescending memes fill your screen. I, myself, was enjoying a nice meal at the local diner when I received a text message form a friend:
“Ben Affleck is Batman! Terrible choice!”
At first I was shocked. Glimpses of 2003’s Daredevil flashed through my mind. I had heard Affleck’s name floating around but convinced myself that is was just a rumor; a high profile actor like himself gets wrongly thrust into roles such as this regularly. After confirming it though, the initial shock quickly changed to anger and disgust which then gave way to denial. I spent the rest of my meal telling myself that it was just a stupid practical joke.
But it wasn’t. And the reality is that Ben Affleck will be portraying my favorite comic book character in the first cinematic meeting between the two most famous superheroes in the world. Batman and Superman.
My spite towards Affleck, however, eventually subsided when I realized that I’m not mad about this decision because of Ben Affleck’s acting ability; in fact he has proven over his past few movies that he has come a long way since his Daredevil days. I was disappointed that they had chosen an older actor, which had been reported but I hadn’t let myself believe.
Zach Snyder, who will be directing Affleck and Henry Cavill in the 2015 blockbuster, has mentioned that this movie will be influenced by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. For anyone who has read my previous posts on this subject, you know that I am against this course of action. Personally, I think that adding a middle-aged Batman into the birth of the highly anticipated DC cinematic universe is a mistake. Batman and Superman are usually the same age and that adds so much to the friendship, or bromance, that these two characters share in every medium they star in. What makes Frank Miller’s TDKR so iconic is the final battle scene between these two heroes. For the reader, it is truly tragic to witness two great friends, brothers, who have fought side-by-side countless times, battle it out because of some sort of government propaganda. If this is the direction in which Snyder takes this movie, it will lack so much of that emotion during the fight scene. It seems as if Snyder and WB are rushing this process along and it can potentially make their cinematic universe suffer after just one movie.
As far as Affleck’s role in this type of movie, he will be playing a middle-aged Batman who will be taking on a Superman who is just entering his prime. At first, this added to my anger– why would they choose to go in this direction? Then I read that this Batman is apparently no stranger to crime fighting. In an interview, Snyder said that Batman will be, “…a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter…”.
*Sigh of relief*
This was the beginning of my change in attitude towards Batfleck.
Originally, I did not think that Batman had begun his crusade on crime in this universe; instead I assumed that he decided to don the cape and cowl after the emergence of Superman. I was wrong. Also, it has been rumored that Affleck signed on to appear in 13 movies as the Caped Crusader. Although just a rumor at this point, this leads me to believe that WB and DC do indeed have a drawn out plan in which they intend stick to for the next 8-10 years or so, which makes me more comfortable with their decision to give Affleck this coveted role. If Batman is a seasoned veteran than you can expect him to attempt to assert his dominance and experience over Superman. This works out perfectly since this is the exact relationship between Affleck and Cavill off the set.
In regards to the actor himself, there is no doubt that he has the physique and the chiseled jaw line to be able to believably portray the debonair Bruce Wayne as well as look like he belongs in the batsuit. As mentioned above, his acting has come a long way since the early-mid 2000’s and he has really earned the title of “A-list actor” from his roles in recent movies, Argo, The Town, State of Play. The negative reaction to his casting will give him something to prove, which usually sparks a sense of pride within an actor of Affleck’s caliber; he will most likely make sure he hits the gym regularly in order to stand next to Henry Cavill’s Superman and prove himself to his critics. Affleck has the potential to turn this version of Batman into a very memorable and unique one, while limiting the comparisons to his predecessor, Christian Bale; he should still be an intimidating and troubled character but maybe he should lack the intensity that Bale brought to the table. If Snyder writes the character to his strengths, and I’m sure Affleck will have some say in the characterization of Mr. Wayne, then he can really hit a homerun with this role. I can easily see him playing a more relaxed Batman who uses his intelligence, detective skills, and gadgets more than that of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight, which lacked in all three departments. In fact, we haven’t seen a Batman of that nature on the big screen ever. The Batman portrayed in Cartoon Network’s Young Justice Series can be used as an example of the Batman they should lean towards. In said series, the character is more approachable and willing to help and lead the Justice League and Young Justice team than in the Dark Knight Trilogy or even Bruce Timm’s DC Animated Universe. Affleck would definitely be able to sell that Batman and I would be excited to watch.
My only problem that remains with Warner Bros. and DC is that I still feel as if they are rushing. Instead of forcing these two characters to duke it out in their first meeting, wait until their last. What would be more compelling and tragic than getting to know Cavill’s Superman and Affleck’s Batman for the better part of the next ten years, witnessing their friendship unfold and develop, and then have them fight in a Frank Miller-esk final battle? Affleck would be the right age (early 50’s), and it would put a dramatic and epic stamp on the final movie in the DC cinematic universe.
Everyone should take a step back and a deep breath and remain open to the fact that Ben Affleck has the ability to give us a different, yet intriguing and brilliant Bruce Wayne/Batman.