Warner Bros. needed someone who could take on Superman. Correction: Warner Bros. needed someone who could theoretically beat Superman. They decided that man was … Ben Affleck.

Ben Affleck has been cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Zack Snyder’s still untitled Superman/Batman sequel to this past summer’s Man of Steel. The announcement was made today by Greg Silverman, President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production, and Sue Kroll, President, Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures. The studio has slated the film to open worldwide on July 17, 2015. …

In the announcement, Silverman stated, “We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics’ most enduringly popular Super Heroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some. His outstanding career is a testament to his talent and we know he and Zack will bring new dimension to the duality of this character.”

Snyder also expressed his excitement about the casting of Affleck, noting, “Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.”

There is no getting around how utterly weird this decision is. However, there is also no getting around how awesome ‘Man of Steel’ was.

Fact: Zack Snyder knows what he is doing. ‘300’ was awesome. ‘Watchmen’ is severely underrated. ‘Man of Steel’ reinvigorated Superman. If he thinks he can make it work with Ben Affleck as Batman, then he’s earned the benefit of the doubt. Fans owe it to him to try their best to withhold judgement and give Affleck a shot.

Here are a few things to help you view the glass as half full:

  • Zack Synder gives his actors the Gym Jones treatment: Ben Affleck will be in shape when it’s time to film. Batman shape. “Holy-crap-is-that-Ben-Affleck?” shape.
  • ‘Chasing Amy’: Ben Affleck showed us he could do a relatively decent job at “tortured soul” when he played Holden in 1997’s Chasing Amy. Sure, his range is limited, but if Snyder can tap into his strengths and minimize his weaknesses then we might just have a decent Batman on our hands.
  • Fan backlash: In a weird way, Affleck will probably use all the anger directed his way as motivation to knock it out of the park.

People keep mentioning Daredevil as proof that Affleck can’t hack it as Batman, but a.) it’s not nearly as bad as people make it out to be and b.) Zack Synder is not Mark Steven Johnson.

In truth, I think the thing that hurts Ben Affleck the most is his political activism. How many people will look at him and think, “This Batman told me John Kerry should have been president in a post 9/11 world and that John Edwards was a trustworthy guy,” — or some other reaction based on his political talk show appearances?

Ben Affleck John Kerry

How can moviegoers see Affleck as a blank slate going into the theater when they’ve had to put up with his activism for years?

John Kerry Space

In this past presidential election Mr. Affleck was more muted, saying his feelings for the president were “complicated.” (i.e., I got duped in 2008 and don’t want to admit it.) However, from now until July 17, 2015, how many times will he lecture the American people on climate change, taxes, immigration or a whole host of public policy issues? Even his wife believes he’ll be running for office in the not-too-distant future. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Mr. Affleck will continue saying and doing things in public that will make it harder for roughly half the nation to lose themselves in his version of “Batman” on opening night. In that sense, Warner Bros. made an unwise decision.

In short, if Ben Affleck can keep a low profile from now until July 17, 2015, it will actually work to his advantage. People want to see whether he sinks or swims and the right teasers will heighten that interest even more. If Ben Affleck can keep from alienating people with political rhetoric, there’s a good chance that Synder will come through in the clutch. The key is for fans to do the right thing and try to walk into the theater with an open mind.

 

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

15 comments

  1. Indeed, his politics are one of the reasons that I’m not very enthusiastic about this move. That, and I’m not a big fan of the Daredevil movie, although that’s because I felt the story was weak and felt that it could’ve been so much better. I would’ve cast a lesser-known actor as Batman, someone without the big name recognition.

    1. I just think someone at Warner Bros. really wanted him in that role and used all their leverage to make it happen. I can’t imagine Snyder picking Affleck on his own, but if that happened … ummm, okay. I guess we’ll see.

  2. John Kerry, skull and bones
    who owns the landscape?
    Bruce Wayne
    and the haters didn’t think
    Heath Ledger could do
    Joker insane

    1. Regarding the “Health Ledger” haters argument, I’m on Jeremy Jahn’s side on this one.

      Again, I think Ben’s antics outside the movies have done more harm to his reputation than his actual resume. The politics is an ongoing thing, but for whatever reason his time with J-Lo sort of turned him into a joke. Yes, that was years ago … but there are a whole lot of people who remember that era.

      I don’t care what I have to do, I will force myself to go into that theater with an open mind. Every kid who loves comics has dreamed about what a Superman vs. Batman movie would be like, and now they have it. Damn it, if this movie is remotely entertaining I’m going to like it.

    2. I agree that his politics have done more harm to him than good. Affleck’s liberal activism is a big reason why I tend to avoid his movies these days. He and Matt Damon both featured a shoutout to either Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky (I was exposed to Zinn’s nonsense when I was in college… yeesh. Nothing but blame America” nonsense) in “Good Will Hunting,” if memory serves.

      And there was going to be a Superman/Batman movie in 2002/2003. It was going to be directed by Wolfgang Petersen and almost got off the ground, but Warner/DC pulled the plug and decided to do individual movies (Batman Begins and Superman Returns) instead.

      I would assume this is the start of a DC Cinematic Universe.

    3. And yeah, I remember the Ben/J-Lo era well. You couldn’t go for a minute without hearing about it… it got to be pretty annoying after a while. Plus they made what’s supposed to be one of the worst-ever movies together, Gigli in 2003. Never seen it, and never will.

  3. I don’t disagree with you very often but I gots a problem with this theory however it does seem to show some logic. I think the public’s disagreement with Ben portraying Batman depends on the person. Some may not like him for political reason and others, like my sister who adores Batman, just thinks that he can’t be taken seriously as Batman. (She had other choice words to describe him which I will refrain from repeating. I feel sorry for the actor who gets a coveted job and the audience rejects the decision.) Then there are those who love him and just want to see if he can do it. I don’t think he’s a good choice for Batman because I don’t believe he’s that good at acting (I’ve seen Chasing Amy. I liked it because I thought he was cute and he did an ok job.) and his facial expressions are too well known. I disagree about the politics because although Matt Damon, Leonardo Di Caprio and Sean Penn are pretty open about their political beliefs they still get the job. They’re just better actors. I guess you could say if you’re going to have controversial political standings at least be good at your job.

    1. I’m not sure how you can disagree with an appeal for fans to try their best to go into a theater with as open of a mind as possible. If you go into a movie convinced you’re going to hate it, there’s a good chance you’ll find a way to hate it. That doesn’t show “some” logic — it is logical.

    1. I love how Affleck doesn’t see the irony in his statement about someone’s politics shattering the movie… namely, that’s how many conservatives such as myself feel about outspoken liberal celebrities mouthing off about politics while promoting their movies. It kills the escapism, and it makes it hard for people to enjoy the films.

  4. The reboot superman was really good- but I do not feel inclined to see a movie with Ben A. as Batman- even superman wont get me in the theater. Ben A. politics are certainly a factor- I want to be entertained and there is something in you that really doesn’t want to support his projects because of it. Sorry…but it is the truth. Actors should stay out of politics, you always come out looking dumb.

    1. Actors should stay out of politics, you always come out looking dumb.

      Thanks for the comment. I’d agree that most of them do come off looking…rather uniformed. Regardless, the thing is that they need to decide — do they want to be actors or do they want to be political pundits? The movie industry as a whole is hurting right now. I’m not sure how needlessly alienating fans helps that problem.

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