FANS OUTRAGED OVER BEN AFFLECK’S CASTING AS THE DARK KNIGHT DETECTIVE NEED TO REALIZE THAT IT’S ANOTHER NAME ASSOCIATED
WITH THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED SUPERMAN/BATMAN MOVIE THAT SHOULD BE STRESSING THEM OUT
Take a deep breath. Have you calmed down yet? Does your world make sense once more? Because when the news that Ben Affleck had been cast as Batman in Warner Bros. upcoming Superman/Batman movie (scheduled for a 2015 release) hit the internet like a fanboy tsunami, the response was a seismic outcry of anger, shock and amusement. I initially wasn’t going to comment on it but when I saw CNN running the story (and fan’s angry reaction) on its ticker while Piers Morgan was interviewing a man convicted of murdering his parents, a good twenty-four hours after the story first broke, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold my tongue (or my keyboard) any longer. And let’s be honest, while no one expects all that much from CNN these days, my Facebook feed is still going nuts over this. The story is trending higher than news the United States is planning possible missile strikes against Syria for using chemical weapons against rebels and civilians, that San Diego mayor Bob Filner is being chased from office by a sexual harassment scandal he’s spent months denying or dismissing and that a doctor in the highly catholic Ireland performed that country’s first ever legal abortion. In fact, the news that Affleck was going to be donning the cape and cowl has trumped every other news story on the planet since it broke. To borrow a phrase from our British cousins across the pond, everyone needs to calm down and carry on. Besides, everyone’s so obsessed with Affleck’s casting as the Dark Knight, they’re missing the real reason they should be concerned about the film. And that’s why I’m dragging out my soap box (see, and you thought I was going to judge your priorities. Suckers).
I’ll be honest, as a huge Batman fan, I initially had my doubts. I thought he’d be a make a much better Bruce Wayne than he would a Batman but upon further reflection, I’ve mellowed out. I overcame my knee-jerk reaction and a lot of other grumbling fans should too. The man can project a pretty strong screen presence, despite having more than a few duds in his closet. And honestly, what actor doesn’t have a few roles they’d love to forget. Kevin Costner, who drew praise for his portrayal as Pa Kent in this summer’s Man of Steel, wrote the book on starring in movie’s you’d wish never saw the light of day. Affleck was more than solid in 2010’s The Town (which he also directed) and he was impressive in last year’s Argo, the movie that won the Oscar for Best Picture. And he looks like he’s showing off some pretty meaty acting chops later this year as a villainous online gambling mafioso in Runner Runner. And his portrayal of a fallen angel in Kevin Smith’s Dogma? Arguably it was Oscar worthy. Before any one brings up 2003’s Daredevil-AGAIN-I agree that it stank more than a thirty year old pair of bowling shoes. But Daredevil’s epic levels of suck weren’t Affleck’s fault. Instead, you should blame the story, the directing, and then the story some more. And while The Man With No Fear’s only cinematic foray has become the butt of more than it’s fair share of jokes, it did make a very handsome profit despite being released in February, Hollywood’s no man’s land of release dates. Plus, at 41, Affleck still has enough of the physical goods to be convincing as a crime fighter, given the proper stunt work and special effects support. And remember a few years ago when then relatively unknown Daniel Craig was chosen as the new agent 007, James Bond fans became hysterical, taking to the internet to describe the decision as the worst one ever made in the history of human civilization. Well, Casino Royale breathed new life into the franchise and last year’s Skyfall became the highest grossing James Bond film of all time, topping the one billion dollar mark (maybe Craig wasn’t such a bad choice after all).
What should truly be concerning fans about Superman/Batman isn’t any of the actors in front of the camera, but the director behind it. While Zack Snyder did direct this year’s blockbuster Man of Steel, he did so with Christopher Nolan riding shotgun as producer. Nolan, the mastermind behind the uber successful trilogy of Batman films that came to an end last summer with Dark Knight Rises, has essentially divorced himself from Warner Bros. studios for the time being and has surrendered all rights to DC comic book properties as part of the split. And while Man of Steel was a financial success, it deeply divided both movie and comic book fans. Some most die-hard fans of the Big Blue Boy Scout absolutely loathed the movie. Making matters worse, the few elements Super-fans liked about MoS seemed to have Nolan’s fingerprints all over them. His absence from Superman/Batman doesn’t bode well for the movie or the marquee characters.
As we saw in 300, Watchmen and Sucker Punch, Snyder is a visuals man who strives for the spectacle, trying to brand as many shots as possible with a very stylized, signature aesthetic. But what we also saw from those movies was that he favours style over substance, and giving his films a glossy, striking look seems to take priority over telling a story or developing his characters. How he might decide to indulge that habit with the world’s two most popular super heroes should fill fans with more concern than how Ben Affleck is going to pull off playing Gotham’s Caped Crusader.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Affleck is going to make everyone forget Christian Bale; he could just as easily sink the role-and the movie-worse than an errant iceberg sank a little dinghy called the Titanic. Nor am I saying that Snyder will destroy the film; there’s a good chance this could be the movie where he realizes the potential so many people believed he’s been capable of in the past, but unable to deliver on. But if I were to lay money down on who has the greater potential to derail Superman/Batman before it even starts shooting, my bet would be the guy siting in the director’s chair and not the one who’s been handed the keys to the Batmobile.
- Ben Affleck As Batman? Thousands Sign Petition To Remove Him (detroit.cbslocal.com)
- Affleck not a popular choice as Batman, according to social media (wwltv.com)
- Childhood Is Officially Dead, Ben Affleck Is Batman (wwtdd.com)
- Ben Affleck is Batman in Man of Steel Sequel (comicsbeat.com)