August 22. 2013. The day Ben Affleck was announced as Batman for Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. This announcement was met with much consternation, gnashing of fanboy teeth, and cries of ‘Batfleck’ as an insult. There was even a Change.org petition to bar him from playing Batman (or any other hero) for 200 years. The White House denied the petition, just in case anyone had any ideas about going that route.
Is it because Affleck has starred in some high profile failures? Because of Daredevil? Because your significant other made you sit through Gigli, Forces Of Nature, or Bounce? These are all decent reasons. Gigli was the cinematic equivalent of trying to make ‘fetch’ happen. So yes, while Ben Affleck has had missteps, like Reindeer Games, he has also shown that he has learned from them. Solid, and in some cases award-winning, performances in films like Hollywoodland, The Company Men, The Town, State Of Play, and Gone Girl showcase his ability to turn in a good to great performance in a variety of films.
Not convinced yet? Understandable. Let’s talk about Argo. Affleck produced, starred in and directed the 2012 film about how the C.I.A. smuggled American embassy workers out of Iran during the 1979-1981 hostage crisis using a fake science fiction film. After all was said and done, Affleck came home with an Oscar for Best Picture to go with his BAFTA awards for Best Director and Best Actor and a number of other accolades for the movie.
So how is a two-time Oscar winner not fit enough in some eyes to don the cape and cowl of the Dark Knight?
Because you didn’t like him in Daredevil?
Affleck’s involvement in Dawn Of Justice does a number of things. It puts a big name in one of Warner Bros. biggest films in recent years, and that will put butts in seats. Yes, these movies have to make money so we can get more of them, and maybe even some different DC characters down the road.
Henry Cavill is solid as Clark Kent/Superman but he can not carry a film this big and important on his own. It also gives Cavill an excellent foil in Affleck. There is an age difference of 11 years between the actors, Cavill is 32 and Affleck is 43, and this difference looks to be at play in the film. While Superman has only been in the hero game a short time, Batman has been down in the trenches of Gotham City for a decade or more and has every reason to be distrustful of a being as powerful as Superman.
Without the mask, we get a chance to see what could be the right balance of Bruce Wayne in a film. Seen by many as the shallow, old money, billionaire playboy who thinks way too highly of himself, all of the previous actors to don the cowl did ok with Bruce Wayne, but they were just ok. Bruce Wayne is a great character on his own, but showing that on film has been a challenge, from Michael Keaton to Christian Bale. Affleck can bring that no limit self-assured bravado that we have seen flashes of, but not fully realized to Gotham’s favorite son.
Warner Bros. is also giving Affleck the reigns for a Batman solo flick, release date sometime in 2018, which he will be starring and directing. So we will have an Oscar-winning director helming a superhero film. Not bad, right?
You may not like him, and no argument will convince you that ‘Batfleck’ is worthy of playing Batman. Your reasons may be marginally valid, be it the failure of Daredevil, Gigli, or Pearl Harbor or that you just don’t like his face. Here’s the thing, it doesn’t invalidate that he has more successes than failures, that he has done great films and knows what makes a movie good. The success of Batman v Superman will dictate the future of the DC slate going forward and like it or not, Batfleck is a part of that. Affleck will be donning the Batsuit not only in Dawn Of Justice, but in the upcoming Suicide Squad, and Justice League films.
Agree? Disagree? Think I am soft in the head? Leave a comment below
Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice releases March 25, 2016