Reaction to the news, less than half a day old, that Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman opposite Henry Cavill in the upcoming Batman vs Superman flick has sent the Interwebz into a frenzy. While Affleck has had some support, most notably from Hollywood types who undoubtedly want to stay on his good side, most reactions have been, as predicted, resoundingly negative. As Tim Carvell, head writer for The Daily Show, put it:
Or, in this case, Daredevil, the character Affleck played in the underwhelming film of 2003. Within an hour of Warner announcing their new Batman both ‘Ben Affleck’ and ‘Daredevil’ were trending on Twitter and, at time of writing, are continuing to do so.
On a surface level, the two biggest problems with Zack Snyder’s casting choice is that Christian Bale’s much-loved version is still too fresh and Ben Affleck is, inexplicably, too controversial an actor. Bale took on the role after an eight year silver screen hiatus for the superhero and was able to re-invent him, not least because the most recent previous incarnations – with Val Kilmer and George Clooney – were widely panned. Moreover, Bale already had a reputation as a risk-taking, edgy actor, despite starring in as many flops as he had successes. Until he played Batman, his most famous role was Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, which he took on after Leonardo DiCaprio dropped out for fear of alienating his then teenage fanbase and he later reportedly lost 63 lbs in a matter of months to play Trevor Reznik in The Machinest, before immediately bulking up again for Batman Begins.
Even his asshole rant at a crew member during the filming of The Terminator Salvation – which played right into the sterotype of egomaniac prima donna actor ripping his underlings a new one – split fans’ opinions, with many agreeing with his stance and defending him on account of his super serial method acting skills. Certainly it did nothing to hurt The Dark Knight Rises’ box office receipts, the only thing studios really care about, which exceeded even those of The Dark Knight (both films grossed over a billion dollars worldwide).
Despite Ben Affleck having done nothing to potentially alienate audiences in the same way, at least publicly, the level of vitriol unleashed at news of his casting has been both expected and unprecedented. Other than a few questionable romantic choices – most notably Jenny from the Block – and a few questionable career choices - most notably Jenny from the Block, the music video, and Gigli, obviously, and Jersey Girl (and basically any on-screen role where he co-starred with Jennifer Lopez) – there’s been nothing, really, to warrant the reaction his casting has received. His friendship with Kevin Smith and cameos in Smith’s films always suggested he had a sense of humor and gave him nerd credibility (again, until Jersey Girl). While Daredevil wasn’t a great comic book film, it was a product of its era, in which there weren’t really any great comic book films, until Marvel finally took its properties in-house and re-booted The Incredible Hulk in 2008, in the process setting a new gold standard for superhero films.
Affleck has since spent years rehabilitating his career image, with gritty dramas like State of Play and The Town, which he also directed. In fact, with his recent success as a director, most recently for Argo, which won an Academy Award for Best Picture, it appeared he had successfully transitioned beyond the curse of J-Lo. And, of all the actors to have played Batman so far (Affleck is the eighth), he is the one who looks most like the comic book version, with the long face and strong jaw, which is the only bit anyone sees anyway when the mask is on.
And yet… And yet. There is something about Affleck that was always going to rankle with Batman fans, who have been ragging on his Boston accent, friendship with Matt Damon and even his jawline. One has even gone so far as to set up a Change.Org petition, calling for Warner Bros. to reverse its decision, which at time of writing, has had over 2,000 signatures.
Warner, of course, will do nothing of the sort as they have apparently had Affleck in mind for Bruce Wayne’s superhero alter ego since a Frank Miller script was kicking around back in 2000. Now they finally have their man – who has reportedly signed up to a multi-picture deal – they won’t be letting him go so easily, no matter what the fans think. Unless it eventually hits them where it hurts: at the box office.
In the meantime, check out some of the Twitter reactions to the Ben Affleck as Batman shocker below.
What do you think of Snyder’s casting choice? Let us know in the comments below.