Will the real Batman please stand up? In an about turn in sentiment, after the initial shock and faint spells at the news that the other half of Beniffer was to become the masked vigilante, I needed a few moments of reflection and well, consoling.
“The nerd corner of the internet fainted at the news…” – The New York Times. This is not the half of it of course… anyway, of the many messages and tweets I read on this topic, I stumbled on one comment on a discussion forum – he was number 50 something – and these few words served to adequately quell my ill feelings somewhat and provide what may even be a silver lining to this debacle. At the very least, it made me ponder.
Firstly, the truth of the matter:
• Ben Affleck is not a terrible actor, and is a great filmmaker. In fact, if all we knew of him was his work from 2005 onwards, most would be unfazed by his casting with films like Hollywoodland, The Town, The Company Men and the recent Oscar winner Argo.
• As far as plain looks go, he kind of fits the bill… plainly put, on looks alone, the choice is kind of logical.
• He knows he’s in many people’s bad books (Gigli, Daredevil, some Christmas movie, Pearl harbor and a few other forgettables), so will work extra hard to try and do justice to this role.
Since the negatives are pretty well known, I’ll simply boil it down to one – Affleck is not popular with audiences. Though his recent work has done well in rebuilding his career and gaining a modicum of trust – none have really shone brightly and set the world alight. Plainly put, Affleck has never convinced us of his pulling power as a leading man… Just take a look at the talent in the supporting cast of Argo (Bryan Cranston in particular) and The Town (Jeremy Renner was on another level) and in both instances people saw the films for them and merely tolerated the Affleck factor – in both cases you could come up with several names that would otherwise knock the ball out the park with those characters. So in reality it is too soon to catapult yourself into a role that has been the darling of cinema for most of the last decade. (Mostly though, Ben Affleck just isn’t cool enough.)
So, here’s why Affleck’s casting may be a good thing:
• I for one, have never been a fan of the Superman/Batman crossover comics – they lacked the depth and detail of the (particularly Batman) individual arc’s. And Batman in those comics never really had the same intensity as we were accustomed to.
• Logically, the two worlds were always destined to lead a somewhat awkward coexistence (to DC’s credit they made it work, so far as the Justice league). My first impression, recollecting my memories from my early youth, was that I didn’t like the mix.
• One commenter even mentioned that this Batman incarnation was the cheesiest and campiest Batman of them all (since he suddenly needed to contend with a host of teammates and a leadership struggle with said team). One way to look at it, is that this version of the character was the least hardcore, the least cool.
• Nolan always said that ‘his’ Batman could not exist in a super-power rich world, so rightfully, the new Batman will take on different dynamics etc. to adjust to the world of Metropolis.
Hence, (presumably) Affleck’s incarnation of the character (or should I say Snyder’s incarnation) would sort of be in keeping with the comics. If (and when) they return to the darker, grittier and complex versions of the character, they’ll undoubtedly need an actor to fill those shoes, but for now, for the purposes of the story direction they’re taking, Affleck will do (for now).
Because why waste the talents of a Michael Fassbender, Josh Brolin, (Idris Elba even) or Jim Caviezel on a Zack Snyder film that has so many question marks hanging over it (and no script yet). The last and first names were mostly fan favourites (Caviezel already playing a Batman type role, minus the cape, in Person of Interest – which sort of plays on the Bruce Wayne/Alfred complex) while Brolin suits the older Dark Knight Returns adaptation, with Elba making up the maverick choice (Dark horse selection, pun coincidental).
So there; let them have their movie, let the studios make merry and be happy with the version they so desire… perhaps the studios are looking for a more kid-friendly superhero movie to put some distance between it and the Dark Nolan-verse… and who knows, maybe the best way to sever links with the trilogy is to go this route. Lest we forget, this film is the MAN OF STEEL Sequel, and not a bona fide Batman film. NOTE: this will be a Batman VS Superman/Superman VS Batman affair as the two are set to go head to head… though I still don’t see Affleck filling the mature battle hardened vigilante he’s supposed to be…
The big reason for the big furore around this casting though is simply because fans want the real deal… we want THE Batman, the definitive (if The Dark Knight wasn’t definitive enough) – call it the holy grail of Batman films that somehow ticks all the or more boxes than even TDK did (because lest we forget – if we nitpick here – there was no Batcave and the typical Batman scene as Nolan sought to diminish the figure of the mask and cape in favour of the man).
Ultimately you’ll never please everyone, but so be it… I haven’t seen Man of Steel, and have never been keen to see it, so unless Snyder pulls a massive rabbit out of the hat, I will probably only batch the crossover-colab-film when it hits TV screens… I don’t doubt that Affleck can do a decent job, but we’ve always sought more than just ‘decent’. I wrote this partially to console myself and others, and aid in making this travesty easier to deal with…
I hope it has the desired effect.