The Twitter-sphere blew up on Thursday night around 8:20 p.m. when Warner Bros. confirmed that the next Batman would be…Ben Affleck. Yes, you read that right. The man formerly known as Daredevil will be slipping on the cowl and cape for the Zack Snyder-directed Batman vs. Superman film (or Man of Steel 2 or whatever they call it), out July 17, 2015. This is huge news. With Christian Bale leaving the franchise behind, the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman is one of the hottest acting gigs around. Rumors swirled: would it be Ryan Gosling? Josh Brolin? Personally, I was hoping for Karl Urban. And even though everyone (I mean EVERYONE) in my Twitter feed had strong reactions to the news of Affleck’s casting – many negative, mostly humorous, I think #Batfleck (let’s make that happen people) could be a good thing. Here’s why:
1. Zack Snyder will make him look like a bad-ass in a way nobody else has before. Say what you will about Snyder’s filmography – his movies look good and he makes his actors look even better. Remember Gerard Butler in 300? Bad-ass. Jackie Earle Hayley in Watchmen? Bad-ass. Sarah Polley in Dawn of the Dead? You get my point. I had a ton of issues with Man of Steel, but I bought Henry Cavill in the role. People point to Daredevil as proof that Affleck will suck, but look who directed that movie? The same guy who did Simon Birch! Affleck was doomed the second he put on the costume. At least Snyder can direct. It’s all about the script at this point.
2. Bruce Wayne/Batman is not that complex a character. Or at least on screen he’s not. Layered? Yes. Three-Dimensional? Sure. But “complex” such that only the best of the best can play him? Hardly. Affleck may not be the greatest actor in the world (I think we can all agree that directing is his greater strength), but he has something other actors don’t: charisma. In the right role, the guy is a movie star. He has the charm and swagger to play Bruce Wayne, and that’s important. Once he puts on the mask, 75% of the character work is done for him. Batman has to be intense and must believably kick ass. Affleck can pull that off. You don’t need Daniel Day-Lewis here. As amazing as Christian Bale is normally, I don’t think anyone would claim that Bale’s work in The Dark Knight trilogy is the best he’s ever done. It didn’t need to be. Everyone knows the villains get to have all the fun anyway. Casting Lex Luthor is going to be key. Paging Heisenberg.
3. Affleck is not the punchline you remember. If you still associate Affleck with the Bennifer days, and movies like Gigli, time to pull your head out of your ass. The guy has been doing solid work for years now. Need proof? Check out Changing Lanes, Hollywoodland, Extract, The Town, Argo, State of Play, and The Company Men. Hell, the man just won an Oscar for producing Argo. He’s Hollywood royalty now. He turned his career around in a big way. It didn’t look good for him for a while there, but he’s earned this moment, and deserves some respect at this point.
4. Warner Bros. will basically give him carte blanche to direct whatever the hell he wants. Affleck has been in the business for years. He knows how the industry works, and you can bet that he has some deal on the side with Warner Bros. (the same studio that made The Town and Argo) that allows him the freedom, and budget, to do any movie he pleases. Affleck is one of the best directors working today, and I for one want to see him do what he wants, without being stymied by studio interference. Movies like Argo don’t scream hit on paper, and you need the clout of a George Clooney to push them through the system. Affleck will have that clout now. In fact, when it comes time to finally pull the trigger on that Justice League movie, maybe we’ll even get to see Affleck in the director’s chair. THAT would be cool.
5. Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms, yo.
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