The internet went to town following Warner Bros.’ announcement that two-time Academy Award winner Ben Affleck, aged 41, is to be the new Bruce Wayne in Batman vs. Superman/Man of Steel 2. Social networks were overflowing with millions of examples of blind and unfocused anger at this news; #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck trended on Twitter worldwide for over 24 hours. Furthermore, “die hard fans” have released videos, started Facebook groups and even started two petitions, one directed at Warner Bros., and one towards the White House pleading for Affleck’s removal. As of writing the former has just over 36,000 signature with the White House petition removed due to its violations of the terms and conditions (and its overall pointlessness). This is all before the man has said a line of dialogue. So this is one corner of the internet where Mr. Affleck’s recruitment will be defended, as well as shooting a disparaging look at “the haterzzz”.
Let’s take it from the top.
A large portion of the internet went mental over Affleck’s hiring as the new Batman. Indeed, celebrities and us blue-collar folk chimed in with our poor thoughts. Check out a couple of the tweets below – the first few are actually pretty funny and fair game – but as we go down, it begins to become a bit ridiculous.
From a coworker: “I’d have more faith in that movie if Affleck were directing and Snyder were playing Batman.” #truth
— jason bergman (@loonyboi) August 23, 2013
Really looking forward to seeing Affleck bring the depth and gravitas to Batman that he brought to Daredevil and Gigli. — Wil Wheaton (@wilw) August 23, 2013
Just when he won back everyone’s respect with ARGO… — Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) August 23, 2013
The drunken hobo that lives under the overpass would be a #betterbatmanthanbenaffleck I am still at a loss for words.
— Ginger Gilbert (@beautytravel80) August 23, 2013
“Hey guys, you know how we have one and a half viable franchises? LET’S FUCK THEM BOTH UP REAL QUICK.” -DC executives #batfleck
— Thomas Galvin (@thomascgalvin) August 23, 2013
YOU’VE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME WARNER BROS. BEN AFFLECK AS BATMAN? Just stop. STOP. Stop.
— Jill Pantozzi (@JillPantozzi) August 23, 2013
You get the idea. I’ve seen more positive reactions to casting announcements… yet here, it’s the general bitterness and all-consuming negativity. With Affleck attached, all is lost. Putting this straight out there, I’m not overwhelmed by his recruitment.
Aged 41, it seems strange to hire an older actor as Batman to do battle with, and potentially defeat, a 30-year-old Atlas replica in Henry Cavill – yet the idea of a wiser and cockier Bruce Wayne has its appeal. Let it be known though that the idea of Batman vs. Superman does not sit well with me; I’d prefer Henry Cavill being allowed to stretch his legs in a standalone sequel rather than trying to ram Batman, a critically and commercially successful franchise that has only just concluded, into its already creaky plot development of the first film.
Anyhoo, Ben Affleck’s acting style does not appear to match the superhero genre. Daredevil is the example most jumped to and with good reason. I mean just look at this poster. Daredevil sucked and Affleck continued his downward spiral of poor project selections and performances.
More than this, I’m no fan of Snyder or Man of Steel. However, I am a fan of Affleck as a director – Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo are brilliant. Excellent examples of a classy, engaged and interesting director. To my mind, he is one of the most exciting directors over the last five years, will be one to watch for the next 20 and, in plain English, I’d rather see Affleck directing than Snyder.
However, I think people deserve to give Ben Affleck, the actor, some slack and most importantly a chance.
1. Why do we fall, Bruce?
From 1999 to 2006, Ben Affleck was a laughing stock, where the chuckles grew louder and louder as the years went by. He won the Razzie for Worst Actor for Daredevil. His relationship with Jennifer Lopez dominated the world’s opinion of him encapsulated by the torrid Gigli. Heck, Team America: World Police even wrote a song about how bad of an actor he was. It was damn catchy too.
Yet as Thomas Wayne reminds his son: “Why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Somehow, Affleck found a way. Of course, he had very good friends in Hollywood to get him back on his feet – but that can only get you so far. Affleck made wise choices project-wise and slowly but surely built his career back up from laughing stock to become a genuine and recognised talent.
However, he knows what is at stake. Watch his award speeches during Argo‘s triumphs last year. In particular, check his win for Best Picture at the Oscars. Go to 6:54 minutes in and watch the last minute of the speech. Affleck knows how close he was to being left out on the street corner and for a good while he was. He pulled himself back up by choosing good projects, working hard in all aspects and delivering the goods. So with Batman – what’s to say he won’t do a good job here? He knows what a bad performance could do to his career. He’ll be back amongst the barrel scrapings so I feel assured that Affleck will give it his best shot. That’s a positive at the very least.
2. Does it come in black?
Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy – although phenomenal – was, in a word, dark. That’s not a criticism; in my view, it’s a compliment. However many felt the trilogy was too dark and hence that must be one of the justifications of having Batman meet Superman in the upcoming film.
So with this mantra in mind, you can’t have the intensity and power of Bale; you need a fresh start. You need a guy who can razzle-dazzle on the surface like no other. I’m not saying he’s the best at it but Ben Affleck fits the bill. The one thing I’m truly confident about in the casting of Affleck is that he will be a terrific Bruce Wayne. Aside from simply fighting crime as the Caped Crusader, Bruce Wayne is a charming, sexy, intelligent and cocky billionaire to cover his troubling past. Each actor who’s donned the cape – Keaton, Kilmer, West- had their own take and Affleck can join this eclectic group with aplomb. Indeed Affleck’s forte is being a likeable jackass. He went too far at times but as you can see in Hollywoodland, he can reign it in and deliver a role with subtlety and without a BAHSTAHN accent.
As well as this, considering Snyder’s Man of Steel 2 is going to focus on action rather than emotion – a question arises: can Affleck even bulk up enough to face off the man-mountain of Cavill? I mean look at the guy.
However, if Mel Gibson can do it for Expendables 3, I’m sure Affleck can do it. Let’s be honest, Ben Affleck is not the ugliest fish in the bowl.
So he can handle the Bruce Wayne side, he will definitely beef up and he knows what’s he signing up for. Things seem a little bit more promising.
3. I believe in Harvey Dent
Although I’ve gone on stating that Ben Affleck isn’t a bad actor, this doesn’t mean that Affleck was the best choice. The popularity of the Twitter trend #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck indicates the ‘Twitterverse’ certainly thought there was someone better.
All of these people are brilliant, especially Abed. My personal choices before all of this were Karl Urban, Bradley Cooper or Michael Fassbender, all of which are fantastic actors with their own specialties and talents yet they were not cast; Ben Affleck was. It’s a left-field shout for sure, but maybe this shock move will provide a real kick to the new movie. This will not be Batman & Robin 2 with an ultra-camp Batman with nipples (more on this later). You’ve got to take a shot in the dark with projects like this. Going with the norm bores people. To have a casting that’s a little left-field intrigues people. Marvel had become the kings of it through their choice of directors. I’m not saying Marvel’s success is down to this but going for the different guy – the thought outside the box – has paid off: Shane Black, a man who hadn’t made a film in over eight years with Iron Man 3; Kenneth Branagh, a thespian extraordinaire, for Thor; and James Gunn, an indie king, for the new Guardians of the Galaxy.
Warner Bros. know what they have on their hands, and to beat Marvel (un-bloody-likely), they need to ensure their biggest project stands out. Especially when you consider Avengers 2 is set for release in the same year (2015). So Ben Affleck is a left-field choice. He’s not my first choice and he’s not your first, second or third choice either but he’s got potential. I openly admit this is the weakest part of the argument but as I say, it’s a shot in dark and I, for one, am going to put my faith in him.
4. Some men just want to watch the world burn
Idris Elba is the new Batman. What a great move. He’s got a strong background in TV and film, and his new role in the Mandela film looks destined for Oscar glory for him. Yet Elba’s black. This is a sticking point for fans: Bruce Wayne’s white. He can’t possibly be hired. It’s not racist, it’s just Bruce Wayne’s white.
This sounds ridiculous but as Cracked pointed out, nerd racism exists.
Idris Elba is not the new Batman. Ben Affleck is not black. So what’s this all got to do with the price of fish? The rather large jump of logic is that the ‘super-fans’ will never be happy. There is always one faction who will disapprove. It’s a well documented fact but no one wanted Heath Ledger as the Joker – yet he won an Oscar and it’s a role that will define his legacy. No one wanted Michael Keaton as Batman either. This isn’t just limited to comic book fans – no one wanted Daniel Craig as James Bond, yet he turned out pretty great. In fact, DenofGeek put together a great article on all the actors who were not wanted for the role by the “fans”.
So the recent furore around Affleck before he’s even seen a script or performed a photoshoot is ridiculous. The ultimate example of this irrational bile is shown in the Change petition. I won’t link it as it doesn’t deserve your attention or time. However, this was the justification the petition creator gave for Affleck’s ousting.
As well as spelling Bruce Wayne wrong, it’s a pretty dick move. Affleck’s an easy target with his past but no matter who the actor was, this is a dick move. John Roden, the petition creator, tried to defend himself later on stating:
I’m not sure how the creator thought this black hole of anger could not cause any offence to Ben Affleck. At least he attempted a half-assed apology but, as he points out, some Batman protesters were not merely appeased by this and decided they had to call up President Obama to help. This petition was not created in jest, it was deadly serious. Luckily, it’s been taken down.
So with all these examples compiled, the Batman fans were pretty damn negative based on no real evidence. Pretty poor show, you guys. So as I say, I’m willing to give Ben Affleck a shot – not only as a film fan, but just an almighty two fingers up to all the haters.
5. Let’s kick some ice
We’ve seen the highs of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but we’ve seen the lows of Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin and for this bit, I’m going to focus on the latter. Batman and Robin is godawful. It took all the great work of Tim Burton in revitalizing the DC comic, and trashed it. It was camp, confusing, funny in all the wrong ways and Clooney was terrible as the lead; he’s personally admitted it several times. Just look at Honest Trailers take it apart – they do a pretty good job:
Schumacher bashing aside, the film acts as a great plus to Snyder, Warner Bros., Affleck and everyone fearful of Affleck’s appointment: it is virtually impossible for Man of Steel 2 to be as bad as this. With Christopher Nolan hopefully coaxed back to look after things behind the scenes, Goyer writing the script and some consistency, albeit not one I’m a fan of, with Snyder calling the shots, Affleck’s casting cannot result in the Batpocalypse 2.
Therefore all I’d recommend is to keep some positivity; as D:Ream said, things can only get better.
Batman vs. Superman/Man of Steel 2 comes out in 2015. I’m going to put my faith in Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader. I truly hope he pulls it off.