So… Ben Affleck is Batman!

Posted by Matthew on August 29, 2013
Editorial

Ben Affleck

Soooo the majority of the internet seems to have lost it’s mind over the thought of Ben Affleck being cast as Batman. “He’s too likable” people are saying. “He’s not gritty enough” people are saying. “He doesn’t look the part” people are saying. “He’s not a very good actor” people are saying. “He’s just wrong” people are saying.

You know what? You’re all wrong about all of these things and here’s why.

Let’s start with how likeable he is and gritty he isn’t. Why is this even a real problem? Because nerds of the world are fixated on a single version of Batman. The Frank Miller version of Batman. The broken man who is bent on revenge for the death of his parents.

You know what people? There are other versions of Batman. There are versions of Batman where he finds closure and becomes a fully functional human being. Where he’s learned to balance his time as Batman and Bruce Wayne and function fully as both personas. The best example, and my personal favourite Batman, would be from Batman: The Animated Series.

Yes, it’s dark but in that version Bruce Wayne is Batman because he chooses to be, not because he feels he has to be (a la The Dark Knight) or because it’s all he really has (a la The Dark Knight Returns). And while it’s gritty at times –that’s the criminal underworld for you– Batman never feels out of place despite not being a self loathing and bitter psychopath.

That and it’s, gasp, FUN. Yo know, like a superhero movie? Ben Affleck plays perfectly into this. Yeah, he’s likable, and a character that’s resolved all the inner turmoil would be too. Maybe he’s not that gritty (although, watch The Town) but he doesn’t need to be in order to get right down in the muck with the bad guy.

Does he look the part? Have you looked at him? He has a strong jaw, that’s literally all you need under the cowl and he’s tall and fit and has dark hair and looks classy in a tux which is what you need to be Bruce Wayne. He’s also old enough (41 now, will be 43 when the movie comes out) that he can sell the slightly older, already complete character that they seem to want for this movie.

Can he act? Why yes, he can! Most everyone is citing either Gigli or Reindeer Games or Daredevil or Pearl Harbour and you know what? The newest of those movies is 10 years old. A decade. It sounds to me like no one has paid attention to his acting for years and missed Hollywoodland, The Town, Argo, State of Play and even Extract (not a good movie but he was good in it).

People are fixating on Daredevil in particular because “he already ruined a superhero movie.” Have you watched Daredevil? It’s not a very good movie but Ben Affleck is the least of that movie’s problems. Writing and direction come to mind but also everyone else in the movie.

So people think he’s the wrong choice. The same group of people also said that Heath Ledger was a bad choice for The Joker. Imagine if twitter had existed in 2003/2004 when it was announced that Christian Bale, the guy who did Reign of Fire and Velvet Goldmine, was going to be the new Batman. It’s not hard to imagine the backlash but now we know better.

What I’m trying to say is that it really doesn’t matter if you can picture Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne or Batman, he’s a good actor and a good director is going to get a great performance out of him. End of story. This leads in perfectly to what this movie’s actual problem is going to be: Man of Steel wasn’t particularly good –I gave it a pass when I first saw it but every time I think about it my opinion is lessened– and I have little faith that Man of Steel 2 is going to be any better.

In fact, that they seem to have decided to add Batman rather than try to make a good Superman movie only adds to this. “Look at the problems and make changes? Hell no, let’s just add Batman, he’s a license to print money.” And if, as it appears they are likely to do, this movie really is Superman vs. Batman? ugh.

Look I know everyone loves Batman and that there’s been a lot of ways that have been contrived for Batman to beat Superman but when it comes down to it, and in the universe created with Man of Steel in particular, Superman could simply punch Batman into the sun. Make no mistake here: Superman is a god amongst men; Batman is a guy in a suit with a bunch of money[1].

Moreover a whole movie of Batman constantly countering Superman’s godlike powers with gadgets? That sounds fucking boring, because at the end of the day who wins? They’re both good guys, remember?

So there it is. Ben Affleck is Batman. Only time will tell for sure if it’s going to work out well but I stand by the idea that this is a good choice. It’ll probably be a bad film in the end but that’s not going to be Ben Affleck’s fault[2].

And if we’re very lucky now that he’s on board to act they might convince him to direct Justice League (or anything else they have planned).


[1] – The imagery of the guy who can literally buy victory beating the guy who is meant to represent the human ideal and our raw potential is also kind of… bleak.

[2] – You can keep whining if you want, all he’ll have to console himself is a beautiful wife, 3 gorgeous kids, 4 homes, millions of dollars and 2 Oscars.

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