CURRENT EVENTS: Ben Affleck Cast As Batman/Bruce Wayne

Old news now, but last week the Internet, especially Twitter, nearly went supernova after the announcement of Warner Bros.‘ casting of Ben Affleck (Argo; The Town) for the role of ol’ Batty Boy himself and his alter-ego Bruce Wayne for the upcoming yet untitled Superman/Batman movie to
be directed by Zack Snyder (Man of Steel; Watchmen), presumably from a script by David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Rises) and production from recent Batman movie franchise writer/director/producer of legend, Christopher Nolan (Inception; The Prestige), who also produced and wrote on this summer’s blockbuster Man of Steel movie featuring the boy scout in blue.

There’s also talk of a Justice League film down the line (and Affleck has signed a multi-picture deal), but let’s not get ahead of ourselves on that just yet. This summer’s un-eponymous Superman movie was successful enough (grossing $650 million world-wide) to green-light a sequel, which will effectively be this double-billed Superman/Batman movie scheduled to begin shooting in 2014 with a targeted release date of July 17, 2015. The movie would pit Affleck as the co-star against Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent. There’s a slight height difference between the two actors with Affleck being 6’3″-and-change to Cavill’s 6’1″, which is not something the filmmakers will be concerned with at all (although the geek police would have you know that DC Comics lists Superman at 6’3″ and Batman at 6’2″). At any rate, since movies, especially ones of this ilk, are made with lots of money to hopefully make back lots and lots and lots of money, it helps to have two stars who aren’t exactly hard on the eyes for the general public. The two marquee superheroes will be enough of an initial draw given that they’re the two most popular this side of Spider-Man and Iron Man. Affleck, though not really considered a “star draw” will have to beat out a lot of preconceived notions of his ability and suspect box office track record, sure, but I think there will be enough curiosity to get the general public to respond to that curiosity. Plus, smart money thinks he’ll pull off an upset to the naysayers.

From a press release quote courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter: “Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman,” Snyder said in the press release. “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.”

However, like with the rebooted Superman franchise featuring Cavill as its lead, there was the initial groaning from a certain percentage of the fanboy corps when he was cast. This situation with Affleck’s casting is typical/standard/expected/cliche/over-reactionary. In other words, not surprising and very much par for the course. I don’t have anywhere near the space here to showcase any of it, but it’s not hard to find all over the Interwebs. Suffice it to say, this event has inspired petitions and website poles, many of which have a rather vociferous negative attack to the news.

Naturally I have a more wait-and-see, if not downright positive take. First, I actually like the casting of an actor who is naturally affable as Affleck. He could make Bruce Wayne far more likable for me than Christian Bale did in the recently concluded Dark Knight Trilogy (btw, I’m one of those people who liked Val Kilmer’s Bruce Wayne the best). Second, Afflect has some dramatic acting chops. Sure, the jury’s still out on the “action hero” aspect, but for a fit and strapping guy like him I imagine a lot of it will hinge on the script and direction. But make no mistake, dude CAN act (an aspect that many action movies tend to minimize). I think Affleck can bring a lot of depth to a character desperately in need of that aspect translating well onto the screen, because I think that has been inconsistent in the past (which is not at all a surprise when a movie is more plot-driven than character-driven).

Surprisingly there’s been a great deal of positive here and there amid all the backlash, so that’s been nice to see. For me, personally, I’m going to need two buckets of popcorn. One for the movie itself. Another for watching the show that will be the Affleck-as-Batman haters issuing mea culpas and caveats when he pleasantly shocks them with is portrayal of the once and forever Dark Knight.


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