It’s fair to say the announcement of Ben Affleck playing Batman in 2015’s yet to be titled Superman vs. Batman was greeted with much distaste. Twitter exploded into anti-Affleck mode and a number of petitions were signed including one to the White House attempting to make it illegal for Affleck to play Batman. Obviously it was quickly disposed of and regardless of how people reacted to the news, Affleck will be playing Batman whether people think it’s a good move by Warner Bros. or not.
Personally, I’m not too disappointed with the appointment. Not for a minute am I suggesting Affleck is the right man for the role, or I am claiming he will do a good job of it, but what follows are a list of reasons why critics shouldn’t overreact just yet and why Affleck should be given a chance to prove himself.
1. Previously pleasant surprises
Firstly, let’s look at Michael Keaton. When the then comedy actor was given the role of the caped crusader, there was uproar of Affleck proportion. Keaton was short, thin and everything suggested he would be wrong for the part. How satisfying it was therefore that Keaton as Batman in Tim Burton’s hugely successful adaptation worked very well indeed, surprising many and proving all his doubters wrong.
In 2006, a certain Heath Ledger was announced as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Again, this news was met with mass anger for a number of reasons. Ledger had just featured in the very successful yet controversial Brokeback Mountain and was met with a number of homophobic comments once he was announced as the Joker as a result. In reality, The Dark Knight wouldn’t be half the film it is without Ledger’s performance, which ultimately landed him an Oscar silencing all the critics that doubted him.
There were even mild moans when Anne Hathaway was announced as Catwoman for The Dark Knight Rises, as well as Cillian Murphy for Batman Begins. However, both did extremely good jobs in the Dark Knight series, proving many people wrong along the way. Affleck could easily fit into that category. A talented actor. Tall, dark and in good shape. Time will tell if he can rise above the mass uproar of disproval.
2. Affleck is a very talented movie man
Upon the announcement of Affleck as Batman, everyone suddenly took one look at his film CV and picked out every regrettable performance he featured in. Every actor or actress has a film they regret being in or played a role in a film that did badly for other reasons. Lest us not forget what Affleck achieved last January. Argo, both acted in and directed by Affleck, won him an Oscar and his two previously directed features, The Town and Gone Baby Gone, were also well critically acclaimed.
Affleck also has superhero experience. Although 2003 flop Daredevil might be an argument against Affleck, it shows that he would be comfortable stepping back into a super suit. And if Daredevil is your main argument to suggest Affleck is a bad actor, both Colin Farrell and Jennifer Garner co-starred alongside Affleck. Does that make them both bad actors too? I don’t think so. In addition and unknown to many, Affleck also featured in the 2006 film Hollywoodland in which he played George Reeves AKA Superman. Of course it wasn’t a superhero role, yet experience nonetheless.
3. Bale is gone and he’s never coming back
A number of people have suggested that there will never be a better Batman than Christian Bale. And there probably won’t be. After all, Bale featured in the best ever Batman series and did a very respectable job of doing so. The Welshman announced that he would not return as the caped crusader, despite rumours suggesting he was offered $50 million to feature in the then proposed Justice League movie. However, in 2015, someone has to step into the black boots of the caped crusader, and whilst there were a number of rumours suggesting possible candidates for the role (e.g. Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling), no one truly looked destined for the part. Affleck was a huge shock, and to many not a pleasant one, yet the argument that he won’t be as good a Batman as Bale is irrelevant. Bruce Wayne will have a new face in 2015, why shouldn’t it be Affleck?
In my opinion, it is too early to reintroduce Batman onto the big screen so soon after The Dark Knight series, and I believe it is a move of desperation from Warner Bros. in order to rescue the Man of Steel series having had such high expectations. Nevertheless, in 2015 Batman will return in the Superman sequel and Affleck will be replacing Bale as the caped crusader, facing up against Henry Cavill. Whoever was cast as the new Batman was always going to be scrutinised for one reason or another and unfortunately Affleck, the talented actor he is, has been on the receiving end of much abuse since the announcement. Hopefully, he’ll prove people wrong in 2015 but at this moment in time, there is no clear reason to suggest Affleck can’t be a success when he dons the cape.