Following the furore – Ben Affleck as Batman

It’s incredible how quickly a news story can become the most talked about thing on the planet and then disappear again. For me this has never been more apparent than with the recent Batman casting news. On Thursday I witnessed people talking about how their lives had been ruined by Ben Affleck donning the cowl. Others talked about the “obvious” back alley dealings between Warner Bros. and their “golden boy” and most just blindly slagged the decision off without truly thinking about it. Then by Friday night the only way I could get anyone to talk about it was if I brought it up and pushed for a reaction! 36 hours was all it took for a furnace level heated reaction to calm to a virtual nothingness.

Now I’m not saying this casting was necessarily the right decision, but I do think if it’s worth getting that worked up about, then it’s worth talking about for more than a day and a half, and also in more than 140 characters at a time.

What really wound me up the most were the comments that said things like “Daredevil was rubbish, so Batman will be too”. This is the most bizarre logic when it comes to films. Yes Daredevil was pretty pants, but it was not Affleck’s performance that made it so, it was a lacklustre screenplay and horrible editing (amongst other things). Applying this same logic would have led Legendary pictures to say “A Knight’s Tale is a crap film, therefore Heath Ledger shouldn’t play the Joker”.

The problem is that we can’t understand Affleck’s capability in playing this role because he hasn’t played it yet. So just as Ledger knocked it out of the park in The Dark Knight, so may Affleck surprise us all in Superman vs Batman.

It’s also funny that in thinking about Affleck’s suitability for the role, everybody instantly cites his other effort in a superhero movie. The difference between Daredevil and Batman could act as an allegory for the inherent difference between DC and Marvel. Instead we need to look at all Affleck’s performances, particularly his most recent turns in films like The Town and Argo, which both show how the actor has matured; that he is able to add greater depth and create many more layers in a character than he did over 10 years ago.

One of my main concerns for Affleck in the role is his celebrity status. I worry that I won’t be able to see Batman because I’ll just be seeing Ben Affleck. But the above trailer dispels these worries. I remember watching Argo; Affleck’s incredible performance meant that I never once saw him as the Hollywood celebrity. It also shows that he has the physicality for the role and a great screen presence. On a side note, I would like to suggest Brian Cranston for the new Commissioner Gordon, but that’s just because I love me some Brian Cranston!

What he is yet to show is that he has the grit to make the character work. I can easily see him as a Bruce Wayne (probably more in the Michael Keaton Wayne style) but I’m uncertain about how he will bring the intimidation as the Batman. This above all will be key to him selling his performance to the legions of Christopher Nolan fans who now expect that Batman should talk like a 50 a day smoker who has just swallowed a tractor.

I suppose the other question to ask is who would we want to play Batman instead?

I think we can all agree that if the rumours of Ryan Gosling had turned out to be true we would have definitely had something to whinge about (no offence Mr Gosling, I love you but this would not have worked).

I personally would have loved to see Josh Brolin take a crack at the Bat. He has the perfect character face and is as gruff as you like. He also carries a great weight of intimidation. Anyone who has seen Planet Terror can attest to the performance by Brolin as Dr Block, particularly when he confronts his wife in hospital carrying a wallet full of needles. But his great suitability is even more apparent in the trailer for Spike Lee’s upcoming remake of Oldboy.

The other choice that seemed obvious to me was Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Once I read that Zack Snyder was looking for an older actor to take on the role I thought Dean Morgan would be a given. Not only have these two worked together before with Watchmen, but Dean Morgan’s portrayal of The Comedian showed he has acting chops and a dark streak that would make him perfect for the role of the Batman.

Now maybe it was these two candidate’s obvious credentials that kept them from getting the role? Perhaps both were offered the role and turned it down? That’s something we will most likely never know. What we do know is that Ben Affleck is the choice we have, and that he has signed a multi-picture deal. So for now we will just have to wait and see. To the detractors all I can say is I hope that Affleck turns out to be the hero we deserve, despite not being the one we need right now (see what I did there?).

Give us your thoughts in the comments below. Let’s see what the Cultoid opinion is!

James is a movie obsessive with a particular love for scores and screenplays. He has written for numerous blogs, sites and cinemas and has been involved in several screenwriting projects. He can usually be found in front of a large plasma screen devouring Westerns, 80s pulp, Jimmy Stewart movies or anything by the Coens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *