Friday, August 23, 2013

In Defense of Ben Affleck: a Rant

Last night brought us the post heard 'round the world: Ben Affleck is the new Batman. Thomas saw it before I did, and had to double-check to make sure he wasn't reading The Onion. I was a little taken aback at first, but then I thought about it for a second...and was okay with it. While Affleck wouldn't have been my first choice (I have no idea who would have, to be honest), the casting actually makes sense. It's odd, but I questioned the heck out of Heath Ledger as The Joker, and look what that got us.

Now, before we go any further, I want to be absolutely clear that I am not looking forward to this movie. You don't want to get me started on Man of Steel, but, suffice it to say, I didn't see it twice. However, I'm going to try to keep an open mind and hope that the things I questioned are addressed and/or fixed in the sequel. I'm telling you this so that you understand that I'm not just fangirl-ing it up here, and would be happy with whomever was chosen. That's most definitely not the case, but I do agree with this particular casting decision, and here's why:

This Is Not the Dark Knight
True, Christopher Nolan's name is on the production, but this is not his Batman. Nolan is not writing/directing this movie (nor did he Man of Steel). This is Zach Snyder's baby, however you want to take that. The Nolan universe has nothing to do with this particular movie, so Affleck isn't "replacing" Christian Bale anymore than Christian Bale replaced Michael Keaton or Adam West. These are completely separate entities, with the only difference being that the movies are spaced extremely close together. Whoever ended up playing Bruce Wayne/Batman would not need to be a carbon copy of Christian Bale, because that particular version of the character might not even work in this movie. The actor would simply need to be someone capable of playing this incarnation. Now, I haven't seen the script (obviously), but if you need someone to play a mature, charming, attractive, trust-fund-type, and also happen to look decent in spandex, you could do a lot worse than Affleck.  

Michael Keaton
And while we're on the subject of former Bruce Waynes, let's look at Keaton. Prior to Batman, he had been mostly associated with straight-up comedies like The Dream Team, Johnny Dangerously, Mr. Mom, Night Shift, and Beetlejuice. Sure, he was cute, but not debonaire, and nothing about him screamed "action star"...and people loved him. For many, he was the quintessential Batman. Keaton was a funny guy with a winning smile who came out of nowhere and surprised us all. Affleck has that winning smile and charm, and, believe it or not, a resume that qualifies him to play Batman (ignoring Daredevil, because everyone else already has--ba dum bum!). In Hollywoodland, he played the first Superman, while also headlining a truly disturbing drama. In Bounce, he played a man wracked with guilt over his tragic past. More recently, The Town demonstrated his physicality and range. True, not every title on his IMDb page is a winner (or even a contender), but we tend to forget that the guy who starred in Gigli is the same guy that brought us Argo.

Kevin Smith
The Comic Book Man himself has given Affleck a ringing endorsement. Yes, they're friends, but seriously, if anyone was going to have a problem with this, it would be Kevin Smith. Also, because they're friends, and because Smith is such an ardant fan of the character, Affleck will have access to all of the research material he could ever hope for. Plus, if he sucks, he'll have to endure a lifetime of being picked on by a guy who gets paid to joke about Batman. Heck, Smith rags on his own movies!

In summation, I'm not yelling from the rooftops that Ben Affleck is going to be the greatest Batman ever. I don't know that the movie is going to be any good, or if he'll be good in it. All I'm asking is that people stop focusing on the fact that this guy has a bromance with Matt Damon, and starred in a few bad movies with J-Lo, and try to remember that he's also the guy who wrote, directed, and starred in last year's Oscar winner for Best Motion Picture. I'm not excited for the movie, but I'm going to give him a shot.

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