So…this is happening.
Let me just preface all of this by saying that I like Ben Affleck a lot. He’s spent the last decade trying to prove to Hollywood that he’s not a joke, and that wasn’t easy after some of his early work. Even his young claim to fame–a writing credit and shared Academy Award for Good Will Hunting–made him seem like a tagalong stoner friend to the much smarter and more talented Matt Damon. But he really has done a phenomenal job overcoming the early stuff with Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and most recently Argo. If anyone should be a Hollywood success story, it is Ben Affleck.
But the man has gotten to where he is today–an Oscar, credibility, respect–by making smart, controlled choices. He got into the director’s chair and made sure his movies were tasteful and good. He didn’t let anyone put him into spandex or say cheesy one-liners. But those days are numbered, I fear, because Affleck signed up to be Batman (which pretty much guarantees some spandex and a couple one-liners) and he didn’t even make sure to do it with Christopher Nolan.
Don’t do it, Ben. You won’t be good for Batman and he won’t be good for you. There are probably a lot of ways Batman can be played differently from Christian Bale’s gruff, damaged soul, but Affleck isn’t the man for that change. Bale’s portrayal brought a lot of legitimacy and respect to the role, and Affleck isn’t going to uphold that with audiences. Even if he does a spectacular job and gives the performance of his life (which he very well could!), he probably won’t be directed well, viewers won’t go into his performance excited, and he could lose everything he’s worked to build in the last ten years.
I’m mostly nervous because Man of Steel (the film that this new Batman/Superman movie will serve as a sequel to) didn’t get very good reviews. The biggest criticism was that it focused too much on action and not enough on character development and insight–so the opposite of what we’ve come to expect from Batman and more along the lines of a Michael Bay movie. That’s bad news, Ben. And the new movie will maybe be titled Superman Vs. Batman? Are you kidding me?
All in all, I don’t have a lot of faith in this choice. I think it means bad things for Batman’s and Affleck’s respect alike. But if anyone knows how to overcome early speed bumps, it’s Ben Affleck. He could prove us all wrong.
And to send you on your way, enjoy just a teeny tiny fraction of the reactions that are dominating the Twittersphere right now.