“I’ll cast Affleck in anything. If I remade Jaws, I’d cast him as the motherfuckin’ shark.”
– Kevin Smith on Ben Affleck
And so the yesterday it was announced that Ben Affleck will play Batman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel. Subsequently, today the internet is afire with love and/or hate and/or indignation and/or nerd-rage.
First off, a question: did enough people go see Man of Steel to justify a sequel? Because, while I didn’t see it, I feel like I heard more negative judgements on it than positive. Or are we just automatically making sequels to everything now? Should I expect The Lone Ranger 2: Loner and Rangerer?
Secondly, I normally don’t get into this sort of stuff because, you know, there’s really horrible shit going on in Egypt and Syria right now, not to mention a few hundred square miles of wildfire in the western U.S. But this is about Batman, easily one of my top-five favorite fictional characters of all time, so to hell the Middle East.
Here’s the short version: Do I think Affleck can pull off Batman? Absolutely.
Now the long version:
Affleck can do Batman because Affleck can do whatever he puts his mind to. This is a guy whose career was pretty much done for, thanks to hyperactive media, some mismanaged PR bullshit, and fucking J.Lo. On IMDB there’s a gap from 2006 until 2009, a massive break for a big-name Hollywood actor.
What was he doing? Taking a step back. Getting his life back where he wanted it. And directing a movie called Gone, Baby, Gone, which might be the best directorial debut I’ve ever seen by an actor-turned-director. This dude pieced his career back together by learning a different trade, and learned it so well that his last directorial effort won an Oscar for Best Picture.
If you ask me, the core of Batman/Bruce Wayne is grim determination. The guy is wealthy beyond belief, with a massive childhood trauma. He has every right and means to sit back and live life howsoever he sees fit. Yet he sees fit to turn all of that toward helping a city that took away his parents. The guy never tires. He never stops. He never says, “That’s enough.”
This is what Ben can do, in my opinion. He knows how that feels; he lived it for a while. Christian Bale’s Batman felt more like desperate determination, and I think this is where Affleck can shine. He can give us a Batman who does what he does because he chooses to, not because he has to.
Affleck’s Daredevil wasn’t perfect, but neither was the movie. I liked it more than most people, and more than I like most Marvel movies. But the movie certainly has it flaws, most of which I blame on the director (who went on to give us Ghost Rider, for fuck’s sake). Zack Snyder, on the other hand, pulled off one of the toughest characters in all of comics: Rorschach, from Watchman. So, yeah. I think Snyder and Affleck can do Batman justice.
But mostly I’m just glad I won’t have to listen to Christian Bale growl through a whole film again.