So unless you were sleeping in really late today or just sat around with no internet access, you will have heard that there has been an official decision made as to who will play Batman in the next film, and quite probably the eventual Justice League movie.
It is Ben Affleck.
I’ve heard the good, the bad, and everything in between since the decision was announced late last evening. Most are determined that this choice is going to take us right back to the horror of Batman and Robin. In fact, one tweet that I read last night went something like this:
“We endured the horror of Batman and Robin/Batman Forever and now we’re right back to it? True fans will BOYCOTT.”
First of all, calm down honey. They announce that they’ve cast this guy and you’re already hopping up and down howling and tweeting for a boycott? You, ma’am, are exactly the type of fan that scared the crap out of Tim Burton when he was looking into making a Superman movie of his own. Sit down and shut up for a minute.
Am I concerned about the casting of this guy as Batman? Of course I am. Batman is one of my nerd life forces; I don’t want to see any further abuse done to a character that has already had the shit beaten out of him through poor interpretation. However, let’s face facts. We all knew that Nolan and Bale were done. Their trilogy stands alone, untouchable, unable to be tied into any crappy future films the way that Burton’s were. Take a moment to be thankful for that.
Second of all, we still have Goyer doing the screenplay and writing the stories. In case you didn’t know, he’s the one who had a hand in the storylines and screenplays (sometimes he outright wrote them, I believe on one he just contributed) of the Dark Knight Trilogy. He has proven that he can write good stories for both Batman and Superman. So we can at least have hope that the story will be decent. And let’s be honest, we blame Batman and Robin and Batman Forever on Kilmer and Clooney, but no one could have done anything with what they were given, not even Bale. The story and screenplay sucked. So we already know we can at least count on something remotely good for the storyline, and because of that, it is guaranteed to not be as bad as B&R or Forever.
The big question is, can this guy play Batman. That depends on another question: WHO IS BATMAN? (And no, I don’t mean Bruce Wayne.) The version that Adam West portrayed IS Batman… the Batman of the early Silver Age of comics. The version that Christian Bale played IS Batman… the Batman of the Golden Age. Those versions couldn’t be more different, but they are still both Batman. So if Ben Affleck doesn’t come out of the gate doing a Christian Bale impersonation, calm down because there is more to Batman than just what you’ve seen from Nolan. Granted that’s one of if not the best presentation of the character to date, but it’s not the only one.
Does anyone know when World’s Finest started? If you don’t even know what World’s Finest is, it was the first comic book line in which Batman and Superman teamed up, marking the first team-up of separate Superheroes from separate worlds. At first they were only together on the covers of the magazines, while the insides featured a separate story of each hero. But eventually (and in many fans’ minds, finally) they teamed up together. You want to know when that was?
The Silver Age. AKA, the stuff of Adam West era.
Now I’m not saying that this justifies making a campy movie, nor that the directors will go in that direction (I think it’s proven by now that darker DC movies do better). All I’m saying is that if Ben Affleck plays a not quite as intense/slightly not as dark Batman as Nolan and Bale’s presentation… be open to it. That’s where this team up has its roots. Bear that in mind.
I am probably one of the only people in the history of modern humanity who has not seen a Ben Affleck film that I can bring to mind. What can I say, I tend to just watch my same DVDs over and over again. So as soon as I heard about the casting, I immediately went to youtube and (after sorting past the billions of fan reaction videos to the casting news) looked up an interview of him. You want to know who I saw?
I saw Bruce Wayne.
He was handsome, collected, able to answer questions, but able to deter them just as easily. As Bruce Wayne, it’s a nobrainer. I can see it perfecty.
Does that let him off the hook? Of course not. This is Batman and Superman teaming up to save the world, not Bruce and Clark go golfing. (As a fun fact, did you know that Wayne Enterprises owns the Daily Planet, where Clark Kent works? BRUCE FOR THE WIN.)
All the people I’ve seen who have donned the cape and cowl have always tended to lean strongly towards one or the other of the sides: Bruce or Batsy. Adam West played a fantastically dry and serious Batman, but had little life as Bruce Wayne. Michael Keaton brought new depth and character to Bruce such as never had been seen onscreen before, but was quickly swallowed up by the cape and cowl. Val Kilmer didn’t seem to click as Bruce Wayne, but managed to pull off a relatively decent Batman. George Clooney was honestly given a horrible character to play either way, but his Bruce was slightly less awful than his Batman. It wasn’t until Bale came along that he was able to present us with a perfectly balanced Bruce Wayne AND Batman. Is it likely that Ben Affleck will be able to give us the same astounding performance? Look at the track record for this character on the screen and let’s be honest: no, he probably won’t be able to. Maybe he’ll make a great Bruce Wayne and then falter as Batman. Maybe it’ll be vice versa.
But we at least have to give him the ability to TRY. Lots of people panicked when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker… need I explain how that jumped back in their faces with the revenge of a rabid mama duck? The fact is, we don’t know enough about the story, the villain, or really anything right now in order to call for a boycott. Give Affleck a chance.
As of right now, I am planning to watch this movie with low expectations but an open mind. If you’re a true Batman fan, then do the same and just be happy that at least our hero is still going strong, not faded into obscurity like so many other characters. (Just google “Obscure Silver Age DC Characters”. Go on. See what you find.)
And at the very least, be thankful it wasn’t Orlando Bloom that they went with. (“They’re taking the Joker to Isenguard!”)