A Few Thoughts on the Affleck Kerfuffle

Ben Affleck, Superman vs Batman, movie, casting news

courtesy imdb

Zack Snyder, director of Watchmen, Sucker Punch and of course, 300, is already hard at work on the sequel to this summer’s lucrative Superman movie, Man of Steel: Superman vs Batman.  This, by the way, is only a working title. By the time the flick hits theaters on July 17, 2015, I’m sure the producers will have come up with more memorable, something spectacular, that all the fans will love!

Again, my kingdom for a Sarcasm Font!

Regardless of what they call the next film, there will be scores of vocal fans who will hate the title.  In this matter only one thing is absolute: All of the fans will never be altogether happy about anything. Ever.

While the producers want the fans to be passionate about their projects based on much loved pop-culture icons; to look forward to the films and eagerly await the opportunity to plunk down their hard earned cash on tickets and movie tie-in memorabilia etc, they also know that they must be prepared to have every decision, every tidbit of news, met with skepticism by an army of magnifying glass-wielding nerds ready to separate the fly shit from the pepper.

This, of course, brings me to an observation about Snyder’s casting of Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne.

By now, anyone with access to a computer, and with any interest, knows that Affleck will be donning the cowl and the cape in Snyder’s movie and everyone, it seems, has an opinion on the matter.  That said, what follows, is mine.

I rather like it when a director or writer or god forbid a studio, instead of trying to be all things to all people, goes their own way and adheres to their own “vision”, whatever that may be.  Snyder, at his core, is a fan boy. He knows the world. He walks the walk and talks the talk. He knew that he wasn’t going to make every one of the legions of Superman fans happy with the movie he was making, so he made the movie he wanted to make. Whether you loved it or you hated it, you still had to buy a ticket to see it. Obviously enough people saw it and loved it, to have spawned the sequel.

The decision to go to the next level by tackling not one but two beloved super hero icons in the same movie, was itself met with a lot of hue and cry. Once the hubbub died down, thoughts naturally turned to casting. If Henry Cavill was guaranteed to repeat as Supe, who would be Batman?

It was known that Snyder (as well as DC Comics and Warner Brothers) wanted to go “40-ish”, a little older than Superman.  A lot of names floated around all summer. Some inspired, some downright preposterous.  One name that was never in the mix was that of Ben Affleck.

Snyder gave his reasons for what, at first blush would appear to be a head-scratcher of a decsion, thusly:

“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.”

Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is.

One, the role of Batman will likely be, if not a cameo, at most a supporting role in Henry Cavill’s Superman movie. Affleck will not be carrying the movie by any stretch, not to mention they’ll both be surrounded by the A-list likes of a returning Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane.

Second, I happen to like Ben Affleck. I’m on record with my opinion that he’s a better director than he is an actor (and his casting as Batman renews speculation that he will direct the Justice League movie), but I also think his thespian skills are wildly underrated.   Frankly, given the dark tone of Snyder’s first Superman movie and having seen Affleck in Hollywoodland, a movie for which I have long sung the praises, he could have pulled off The Big Blue Boy Scout (and watch him do pull-ups in The Town. He’s nearly as ripped as Cavill under that nice-guy exterior).  He’s not going to embarrass anyone, so lighten up.

Third, I don’t think any known actor would have satisfied the masses other than Christian Bale and that just wasn’t going to happen.  Bale’s Dark Knight was iconic, of that there is no doubt, but he said it over and over again. He was done. No one believed him. Maybe now they will.

I have to agree with film critic Scott Weinberg* who posited that

“The only reason Affleck seems weird is because you’ve seen him in 35 movies already. If he was younger (“newer”) it wouldn’t be an issue.  …If it’s a nobody, we’re all psyched, but if it’s someone we know, we’re all furious. Every time!”

He has a point. We lived in a web-less world  way back in 1988 (yes I know the movie came out in 1989), so news traveled slower and it was a bit more difficult to gauge public opinion, but do you think Michael Keaton was a popular choice for Batman?  More recently, do you think everyone was happy with the casting of Heath Ledger as The Joker?   No and no.  Even without Twitter and Facebook, the internet was aflame with Heath-hate when Christopher Nolan gave him the job. Today, people genuflect at the memory of his performance.

Back to Affleck, my biggest concern, and I know I’m not alone in this, is that his next directorial effort, Live by Night, based on another book by Boston writer Dennis Lehane, will be pushed back. (He’s already dropped Tell No One.) Again I say, Ben is a good actor, but he’s a great director and I want to see that movie more than Superman vs Batman.  But that’s Just My Humble Opinion.

Besides, I’m more concerned with who Snyder is going to cast as Lex Luthor. *wink wink*

*via Twitter

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