Ben Affleck is going to play Batman but there are five really good reasons why he can pull off the role and do it justice…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Follow on Twitter @DamonMartin
The entire internet seemingly exploded on Thursday with the news that Ben Affleck was cast as Batman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel due to begin filming next year for a July 2015 release.
While there has been some positive reaction to the news, the majority of fans have let out a collective groan about the casting choice of director Zach Snyder and those behind the franchise that could be putting Affleck under the cape and cowl for the next decade depending on how successful the upcoming film ends up, and with other sequels and possible team-up films happening down the line.
There were literally dozens of articles (including one on this site) speculating on who could end up in the role of Batman. Everyone from Josh Brolin to Ryan Gosling was potentially on the list, with just about everyone begging for the return of Christian Bale and no one targeting Affleck for the role. As a matter of fact, there were virtually zero rumors that Affleck was even in the running for the part—proof once again that you can’t believe everything you hear until the studio tells you for sure it’s true.
Now, I’m not going to deny the fact that I am a Ben Affleck fan.
From his days where he served as bad-sock-wearing loyal best friend Chucky in Good Will Hunting to his role as lesbian loverman Holden McNeil in Chasing Amy to a Wall Street shark in Boiler Room—Affleck had many memorable movie moments early in his career. Even in some of the darker days (Gigli) he still managed to pull off some pretty great acting in films like Jersey Girl (don’t let the critics fool you, if you delete Jennifer Lopez from existence this isn’t a bad movie), and came back stronger than ever with films like The Town and Argo.
Today, I’m going to give you five good reasons why Affleck can pull off Batman on the big screen, and why you should judge slowly and give him a chance before reducing him to Brandon Routh status.
1. Yes, Affleck Has Done a Superhero Film Before. Yes, It Was Bad. Even He Knows That
The minute the casting news was released about Affleck playing Batman, the first words out of just about everybody’s mouths was DAREDEVIL.
It’s true, Affleck played blind Hell’s Kitchen lawyer Matt Murdock, and his night time vigilante hero Daredevil in the awful film version of the character in the 2003 release by director and writer Mark Steven Johnson. But let’s not pretend like there weren’t a thousand other things wrong with that movie beyond Affleck, and when the walls are crumbling down around you, it’s hard not to get caught in the wreckage.
The script was terribly written—it tried to pack 30 years of Daredevil history into one movie. Imagine if Daredevil had been made only focusing on Matt’s battle against Bullseye, while possibly introducing the character of Elektra but going no further. Imagine if the filmmakers had just adapted one famous Daredevil story from Frank Miller or even the great series written by Affleck’s friend Kevin Smith as a template for how the story should unfold. Instead, Johnson tried to fold every villain, and every story for Daredevil into one, trash compacted version of the film. Also lest we forget, Johnson is the same guy who wrote and directed Daredevil, knew it was bad, read all the reviews, and still managed to turn around and write Elektra, which was possibly even worse.
Affleck grew up a fan of Daredevil and even wrote the intro to Smith’s trade paperback story about the character for a Marvel book released in 1999. Maybe he got too attached to a character he loved, or maybe he took the role not realizing just how bad the script and story were being portrayed, and by the time he put on the leather suit, it was already too late.
Looking back at the film years after its release, Affleck is honest enough to know the movie was just doomed to fail (via MTV).
“I think we missed a lot in that movie. I think yeah before they really figured out how to do them right, yeah. Now, they’ve become eight movies, and they’ve been embraced in a way that they do, although they made some good ones, now they dedicate these resources and focus towards them. Audiences have come and demand a level of quality from them, that is no less than the very best. It was a drag because I did love Daredevil as a kid.”
As a character, Daredevil might be Marvel’s answer to Batman in terms of being a hero that’s damaged, dark and gritty, and left in the right hands it could have been The Dark Knight. Instead it was more Batman & Robin.
2. Affleck Has Always Wanted to Do a Superhero Film…If It Was Done Right
If you ever listen to Kevin Smith, who was around Affleck in his early days, he tells many stories about how his old friend was a big comic book fan, and grew up loving the superhero genre. Unlike many actors currently pulling big gigs in Hollywood, not even close to being tall enough to dunk a basketball, Affleck stands an imposing 6’4″, which will bode well for him stacking up against Henry Cavill, who plays Superman, and stands 6’1″ tall.
Following the debacle that was Daredevil, Affleck vowed to never do another superhero flick again, but as the years passed and his affection for the genre returned, he changed his mind—only if the right people were involved to make the movie happen.
“I would love to do one, if it was the right one and if I thought I could do it well,” Affleck said about doing a superhero movie during promotion for his Oscar winning film Argo.
The good part about Affleck stepping in this time is director Zach Snyder not only has Christopher Nolan watching over him like a big brother should, but he also has experience dealing with untouchable material and doing it justice on the big screen. Snyder’s adaptation of The Watchmen remains one of the best superhero films of all time, and he stayed very true to the source material outside of one big leap that he took with the ending, that arguably was as good as the original one written by Alan Moore.
While Snyder and script writer David S. Goyer made some fans (like Ralph Garman) lose their minds with the ending of Man of Steel, overall the film worked in a way that the last few Superman adaptations did not, and casting a relative unknown like Cavill in the lead role while risky early, paid of big time late. Trust in the fact that Snyder knows how big this movie will be, and he should treat it as such. In turn, Affleck will get the most out of his performance, and redeem himself for whatever part he had in Daredevil.
3. Affleck Has Joss Whedon on His Side
Listen say what you will about celebrity endorsements, but when it comes to the geek genre of film and TV, there’s probably no one more respected that writer/director Joss Whedon. He’s written countless masterpieces including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, not to mention his run on quite a few comic book series like Astonishing X-Men. Whedon is also the man responsible for pulling off the impossible and making a team movie like The Avengers not only rake in money like a broken ATM just spitting out cash, but the film was hailed as a critical success as well (which rarely happens in the superhero genre).
On Friday, Whedon gave Affleck a rousing approval for taking the part of Batman, and he believes the California native has the chops to bring gravitas to the role and make it great.
Affleck'll crush it. He's got the chops, he's got the chin — just needs the material. Affleck & Cavill toe to toe — I'm in.
— Joss Whedon (@josswhedon) August 24, 2013
4. Affleck is Almost Always Great When He Doesn’t Have to Carry the Film
People seem to be forgetting that while Affleck will be playing Batman, he’s still taking part in a Superman sequel. To date, we have no idea how big or small the role of Batman will be in Man of Steel 2, we just know he’s going to be there. It’s doubtful, however, that Snyder and the producers behind the movie are going to somehow eliminate Superman from being the central character. Part of the issue of this entire scenario does fall on Snyder’s shoulders because at Comic Con when he made the announcement about the film, he quoted a line from the classic Frank Miller epic The Dark Knight Returns, which was a Batman book that also featured Superman and not the other way around.
I want you to remember, Clark. In all the years to come. In all your most private moments. I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.
Snyder quickly killed rumors that he would be turning The Dark Knight Returns into Man of Steel 2, but the line was a perfect segue into announcing that Batman would appear in the next Superman movie. The big picture being overlooked currently with the Affleck announcement is the fact that he’s not the lead in the upcoming movie. If anything he’s sharing the space with Cavill, or potentially playing the second lead in the movie behind Cavill.
Now this is where the Affleck playing Batman story takes a huge turn towards the positive.
For every Paycheck and Reindeer Games that Affleck has played in and been the lead role, he really shines when the spotlight is not solely on him. Take a look for instance at the 2010 film The Town, which Affleck was the star and also directed, but did not overshadow the entire cast of the movie. Jeremy Renner, who played his best friend, shouldered a big brunt of the acting chops necessary to pull off The Town, along with a nice save from Jon Hamm as well.
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The same can be said for Affleck’s role in Argo. Now again, he was the lead, and he did have the biggest role in the film, but the movie was an ensemble cast with powerful performances by everyone involved including Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman. Affleck was the lead, but he was more like Paul McCartney in the Beatles—certainly he was the frontman, and ultra talented, but everyone had their eyes on John Lennon most of the time when it came to the real brass behind the band. It’s a repeat for Affleck’s part in Chasing Amy, where again he was the lead, his name was first on the marquee and he was definitely Batman in the movie, but he had a fantastic Robin played by Jason Lee
Going back further to the afore mentioned role Affleck took in the little talked about Wall Street swindle caper film Boiler Room, he stole the show with only two scenes where he shouted and screamed at a room full of stock brokers about what it meant to be filthy rich.
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Affleck has the chops to pull off any role, and when the entire bottom line isn’t based on his success or failure, he comes out looking like gold. Add to that, as Affleck has gotten older and wiser, his choices in films have gotten much pickier. He’s turned into more of a director than an actor, and more of an activist than a money seeking Hollywood-ite just looking to cash in on a big role. In other words, Affleck took this role because he wanted it, the script was good, and he’s got plenty of support around to make sure this thing goes perfectly.
5. Haven’t We Heard These Complaints Before?
Listen, I’m not an expert when it comes to Hollywood casting calls, but one thing I know very well is the audience reaction to any kind of movie announcement—and let’s just say it’s rarely positive.
Facts are facts—people love to complain and everybody has a better choice than the one actor or actress that gets chosen for a role, particularly superhero films where the legions of fans somehow always know better than those casting the movie.
There’s no bigger case to prove this than the announcement in 2006 that Christopher Noland cast Heath Ledger as The Joker in his upcoming sequel The Dark Knight. Fans around the world freaked when Ledger was announced, and sites from all over the internet couldn’t wait to tell Nolan how he made such a monumental mistake.
Mark this day, folks: August 3, 2006. That’s the day that Christopher Nolan made his first mistake as the current commander of the Batman franchise. For reasons that don’t quite make sense to me, Nolan — as has been rumored — has officially cast Heath Ledger as The Joker in his upcoming The Dark Knight. (via Pajiba.com)
The article from the above website goes on to quote a pole run by fans at the time of the announcement with 84-percent of them saying Ledger would be either so-so or horrible in his role as The Joker. The site then goes on to tell Nolan how he made a huge mistake casting Ledger over other more obvious choices.
Ledger beats out several other actors who were rumored to be up for the role, including Crispin Glover, Robin Williams, Guy Pearce, Adrien Brody, and the leading contender, Paul Bettany. He would’ve been phenomenal!
Now, I’m not trying to pick on this particular writer, but this is just one of literally dozens of stories from that time period where Ledger was cast as The Joker and nobody seemed happy about it. There’s even a famous photo compiled by GeekTyrant with fans losing their minds over the casting of Ledger, and the comments are down right hilarious when put into the context of how he ended up portraying the part to perfection.
Even I’m not above pointing my all powerful finger back at myself because I remember when the announcement was made about Ledger portraying the Joker, and I’m sure I uttered many of the same things as the fans in the photos above. I thought ‘how could the kid from 10 Things I Hate About You somehow play the Joker? Are you kidding?’ Thankfully, I was dead wrong.
Even Batman icon Christian Bale, who redefined the role with his portrayal of the caped crusader in three films directed by Christopher Nolan, wasn’t immune to fanboy hate when he was announced as the actor who would take over the role back in 2003. Bale was mostly known for his cult performance in American Psycho, and the science fiction dragon flick Reign of Fire.
Some of the comments back then when Bale was cast included—
“I’m surprised they couldn’t get a more known actor.”
“NOT AGAIN! Can’t we find someone better for this part?”
Facts are facts—no one can predict how Affleck will do as Batman anymore than they could have known just how brilliant Heath Ledger pulled off The Joker. If the trailers start being released and Affleck starts sounding like a cheap Christian Bale imitation, then maybe the revolt can begin again, but for now put down the pitchforks and torches and let Snyder and company try to put together a great Man of Steel sequel where we see Superman and Batman together on the big screen for the first time in history.