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?
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?
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.