When news struck about Ben Affleck becoming the new Batman in the Man of Steel sequel, comic book fans and geeks alike were enraged. Honestly, it did feel like a sucker punch that left us all in a doozy. I mean, who can ever forget the horrible superhero movie that was Marvel’s Daredevil, where he starred as the titular character back in 2003? It was horrible. Somehow, that image of Ben never left, making that the main basis for the criticism. When I heard about this, I was also shocked. But after a moment, I suspended my disbelief and said on Facebook that I was looking forward to Ben’s interpretation Batman, hoping he doesn’t pull a Daredevil with this one.
Most of the comments have been negative. Understandable, since we’re still fresh from Christian Bale’s memorable portrayal of Gotham’s Dark Knight. But let’s look at the bright side for a moment and see why the ex-Daredevil star, now affectionately called Bat Affleck, should be given a chance.
Reason #1: Surprise!
Affleck joins an exclusive group of actors who were first heavily disapproved, but later on lauded, for their casting as movie characters. Remember Heath Ledger? He was terribly amazing as Batman’s antithesis The Joker in Nolan’s Dark Knight (2008), even posthumously winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at the 81st Academy Awards a year later.
But prior to nabbing his movie role magnum opus, Ledger was negatively criticized as not being “fit” to play The Joker because of his past movies like A Knight’s Tale and 10 Things I Hate About You.
Another actor who was also criticized for being cast as Batman was Michael Keaton! Widely regarded as a comedic actor, he was also deemed unfit to play the Dark Knight. It was only until the release of Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) where the naysayers shut their mouths. His performance was well received. Keaton’s Batman arguably remains one of the best portrayals ever seen.
Reason #2: It’s time for a re-invention.
Let’s face it, after Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, a reboot for the character was inevitable. Affleck has the opportunity to re-interpret one of DC’s most beloved characters. It’ll be interesting to see which aspects of the character he’ll embody onscreen. Bale was realistic and brooding in and out of the cowl, while Keaton was dark and twisted, with gravitas, owing to the direction of Tim Burton.
Batman has other traits that have yet to be brought to life, such as his detective skills, physicality and strength as a fighter (he is considered an Olympian-level athlete in the comics), and the highly intellectual, calculating, and ever-ready tactician (he is ready for possibly any threat). It will be exciting to see which of these, or others unmentioned, Bat Affleck will bring.
Reason #3: He could be a good creative influence.
Aside from being an actor, Ben Affleck is also a commended director. He directed the critically acclaimed The Town and Argo, which won 3 Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Editing).
What does this mean? Aside from acting chops, he brings with him movie-making experience. He could give Snyder tips on how to balance and further characterize Superman and Batman.
Reason #4: He’s got the blessings of previous Batmen and then some.
Val Kilmer, Adam West, and even Michael Keaton have given him their approval. It seems they’ve passed on the cowl to a worthy successor.
Can’t believe it? Here’s Michael Keaton’s approval of Bat Affleck recorded by TMZ:
Others who have voiced their support for Ben are BFF Matt Damon who said,
“I think it will be great. It will be terrific. I know there are a lot of people grousing on the Internet. I just think it’s kind of funny. You know, he’s not playing King Lear. It’s Batman! Certainly within his skill set…”
And Kevin Smith, who is one of the actor’s good friends and has frequently worked with him rose to Ben’s defense on Twitter during the height of the criticisms.
Here’s one last word…from none other than Batman himself:
There was this online petition created last month saying Warner Bros. should take out Affleck as the new Batman. They’ve said that that the number of signatures could possibly have reached more than a hundred thousand by now. Only time will tell how Ben will do as Gotham City’s protector. Personally, I can’t wait for all these haters to be proven wrong when he blows them away with his depiction of the Dark Knight.