Few things in recent memory have the ability to raise the collective blood pressure of geeks around the world. What they have all had in common though have been The Dark Knight, Batman himself. Whether it be which of Nolan’s movies was best, should the suit have nipples or not, is Batman better than Superman, or who has played a role in the movie it all seems to revolve around Batman. Never more has this been so apparent than last Friday night when seemingly out of the blue an announcement was made that Ben Affleck had been cast to assume the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in the upcoming Man of Steel Sequel and in future movies as well. What made this really interesting was that there was no leak of the information that could be found. One minute it just appeared on the internet. What followed could only be called a nuclear civil war amongst the fandom.
While there have been quite a few well thought out articles and comments, of which I am about to add to, in favor of Ben Affleck as Batman…or Batfleck as he has come to be referred to, there has been an overwhelming cascade of negativity towards the decision. Many of these comments have been a simple comment or tweet about how they don’t like the idea, the majority of them have been filled with hate and vitriol directed not only at Ben Affleck, but at Zack Snyder and the production team as well as DC. While some of the comments have been rather clever and funny, namely the ones from people who are obviously bigger fans of Marvel than DC, there have also been a segment of them that seemingly make no sense and display not even the slightest bit of thought or contemplation on the part of the writer/poster.
I personally have no problem with people disagreeing with me or my viewpoint, especially when they have put together a well thought out response to my well thought out opinion on an issue. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing, in fact an open dialogue is something that can be very beneficial in the long run. Having said that, if after you read my thoughts in defense of “The Batfleck” feel free to comment below, it’s what the comment section is there for.
Now that I have the formal part of this piece out of the way, I’d like to say….I called it!! I called Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne my off the wall, crazy pick to play Wayne/Batman almost a month ago here on GonnaGeek, on my review of Man of Steel on my podcast (Embrace the Geek Podcast), and light heartedly with Chris over on ATGN Podcast. It was a lot of fun on Twitter and Facebook throwing out my Geek cred on being the one who was right…..so much so that Jason Hackett even gave me the idea to use the title of “The Prophet of Affleck” when I introduce myself. To be fair, I didn’t think there was any way they would cast him but I hoped they would. My reasoning for it hasn’t changed, if anything I have had even more time to think it over since the reveal last weekend.
Much like I did when I went in to watch The Man of Steel for the first time, I have to put all former incarnations of Batman on a shelf in my mind and go in to this without the shadow of previous portrayals lingering. When I did that with Man of Steel it made it a much better movie to me because I wasn’t comparing it to Richard Donner’s work or Smallville. With this new universe that Superman inhabits, we need to have a new and different Batman living in it. This is one of the first reasons why I think Ben Affleck will be good for the role. That is why he was my off the wall choice because he is so different from Christian Bale in the same way that Henry Cavill is so very different from Christopher Reeve.
One of the big complaints on Ben Affleck revolved around his part in Daredevil and I get that. Where I disagree with them is that I didn’t think that Ben Affleck was bad as Daredevil. If anything, I thought he played a good Daredevil in a bad Daredevil movie. What I saw in that movie was first and foremost his ability to play a physical action role. Batman needs to have physical ability, especially if he is going to be going toe to toe in a fight with Superman. Also, Ben Affleck is similar in physical stature to Henry Cavill which for me lends to the believability that he could not only hold his own in a fight, but actually win as was teased at Comicon last month.
Next, as has been teased this Batman is more established and older, maybe even battle scarred. Having an older actor like Affleck play the role is good because he can play the detective and strategic type of Batman that we did not get with Bale’s version in the Nolanverse. Affleck in recent years has shown this side in Argo, which he was very good in as both an Actor and Director.
The last piece of the puzzle covers Ben Affleck’s ability to play the role of Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy. Affleck needs to have charm and charisma to play off this side of the Wayne/Batman coin and I think he has shown that in the past as well. In Argo he showed some of it, and in Daredevil he did as well when interacting with Jennifer Garner’s Elektra. I thought that their chemistry was very good and he was able to translate that onto the screen. Affleck has had misses in this area too of course, how can we forget Gigli and Jersey Girl. There is little to dispute that both of those movies weren’t just bad, but pretty awful. But you can’t judge him on those roles alone. Give him some credit, even if it’s not for his acting abilities, but for his real life charm. This is the guy who dated Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez and married Jennifer Garner. He obviously has some sort of super powers.
Ben Affleck is not the actor he was 10 years ago. He has matured from earlier acting misses like the aforementioned Gigli and Jersey Girl into the Director/Actor in Argo who won another Oscar. Ben Affleck is not the type of actor to go into a project sight unseen as he may have in years past. He knows what makes a good movie. If Zack Snyder, David Goyer, and DC did not have a good story in mind and a vision that they could relay to Affleck I don’t think an Actor/Director of his caliber would have signed onto it no matter how big a fan of Batman he is in his personal life. Remember, this is the guy who reportedly turned down the role in 2000 because there wasn’t a good story at the time.
To all of the naysayers I say take a deep breath and relax. We are still two years out from seeing this film and 6 months from the beginning of filming. I could be wrong in my assessment and he could turn out to be terrible in the role, but we won’t know that until the movie comes out in 2015. In the mean time though remember casting choices that similarly infuriated the fandom. Michael Keaton as Batman in the 80’s….yeah right, Mr. Mom can’t possibly play Batman. Or remember that guy from A Knight’s Tale Heath Ledger…he is going to ruin the Batman legacy as the Joker. No way can an English guy play Superman. Superman is all about Truth, Justice and the American Way…not the British way. And don’t get me started on this blond haired Daniel Craig as 007. These casting choices all brought out a negative outcry from fans…but when we finally got to see the roles come to life, is there anyone else we we would have rather seen playing them. I think not.
Oh, and if you think that you signing a petition is going to change anything or hurt Affleck’s feelings….take a look at this clip.
I mean, lets face it, he was the bomb in Phantoms yo!!