Op-Ed: Ben Affleck As Batman Is The End Of DC
This is the END, DC!
Attempting to comprehend “Why?!?”
By: Lawrence Napoli
It’s Thursday night, August 22, 2013, and I just found out that Ben Affleck will be the next Batman in the sequel to Man of Steel as well as what I presume will be DC’s efforts moving forward to culminate in Justice League. Let that sentence percolate for a moment. Ben F*CKING Affleck!?!? Here’s a pro tip: count to ten, take a breath, in the nose, out the mouth. Needless to say, but I am extremely disappointed in this decision. Nothing (and I mean NOTHING) in this actor’s repertoire indicates that he would, could or should be Batman in a serious adaptation of that character’s license on the silver screen. I’ll delve into my opinion about this debacle later, but first I need to make some predictions about what this means for DC shamelessly attempting to recapture The Avengers in a bottle.
1) Established media entities will universally praise this move.
Affleck, love him or hate him, happens to be an A-list, popular name whose attachment to any film production can send budgets through the roof and potential ticket sales of seemingly obscure films in the same direction. He’s a regular on GQ, he’s a tabloid darling, and thanks to Argo he not only has “street cred,” but finally something significant to distinguish himself from Matt Damon’s more esteemed body of work. DC, Dune Entertainment, Syncopy and Warner Bros. are making this decision entirely about money, but the false assumption is that Affleck has this effect for this kind of serious comic book adaptation. In the one, previous stint Affleck had with starring as a superhero: Daredevil, that production had a budget of $78 million dollars in 2003 and its GLOBAL take at the box office was just under $180 million. This is NOT an example of “showing me the money!”
2) Bat Fans, Bloggers, Fan Websites and anything else remotely grassroots will universally pan (or at least raise a serious eyebrow at) this move.
The die-hard fan (a.k.a. fanboy) is instrumental in turning these comic book movies into legit challengers to Avatar’s all time money record. They’re the ones that pump movies they like incessantly (and for free) on the internet, attend multiple screenings and contribute to a fever pitched word of mouth campaign to do the kind of things The Avengers did. Core fans don’t care very much for Affleck because everything about his persona reeks of Shannon who worked at The Fashionable Male in Mallrats. He’s comes off as arrogant, narcissistic, over privileged and completely devoid of an ounce of genuine humility. You know, he’s the kind of guy that beat up the comic book geeks and nerds in high school. Yeah, this decision should go over really well with them.
3) Superman vs. Batman and Justice League by extension will be out-earned, outperformed and out-classed by the Marvel Films.
DC is already at a distinct disadvantage with making Superman the center piece of their movement because that character’s godlike immunity makes him difficult to connect with contemporary audiences. Green Lantern was so awful that DC would rather have everyone completely forget that it ever happened. Nobody gives a damn about Aquaman. No woman (save for Lucy Lawless in her prime) could do Wonder Woman justice. And no one (outside of “the core”) knows about Flash, Martian Manhunter or Cyborg. DC’s most valuable character is the one they’ve already made seven movies with, and Christian Bale’s performance is recognized by many to be the “best Bat” to date. Oh, and Bale happens to be an Academy Award winning actor.
4) Zack Snyder is going to be constantly hitting every media outlet to pump up Affleck as Batman and tell nay-sayers to shut up.
“(Affleck) 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.”
– Zack Snyder.
Expect to see unending remixes of this last statement for the next two years. By the way, if you were looking for a translation for that quote, it goes something like this: “Forget your apprehensions concerning this casting call; Ben Affleck is the perfect Batman because the studio told me so, and I couldn’t identify a real actor even if Hugh Jackman punched me in the face.” Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but seriously, what was Snyder thinking with that? “Scars of a seasoned crime fighter,” implies the aforementioned humility factor that a career spent personifying arrogant bastards is pretty much incapable of depicting.
5) Everyone will suddenly pine for Superman snapping Batman’s neck in the movie.
This has a lot to do with prediction #2. Frank Miller’s, The Dark Knight Returns has that infamous showdown between Batman and Superman that has had every comic book aficionado salivating over Batman’s ability to overcome any odds and defeat any adversary put before him. People like Batman because he’s dark, deductive, mortal and flawed, and Superman was depicted as a brain-washed boy scout in that comic. Affleck is not an underdog though; he’s a front-runner and people want to see him get taken down a peg or two. Ergo, Henry Cavill needs to melt his face off with heat vision. Perhaps this is all an elaborate scheme by DC to make Superman their #1 guy in the eyes of the fans: by neutering Batman with Affleck.
I’m sure other things will happen like fans picketing theatres, or petitions to bring back Christian Bale. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if people hit up Kickstarter to put real money behind the serious opposition to this decision, but the fact of the matter is that this casting decision is the furthest from a slam dunk and it astounds me that no one calling the shots for DC’s film adaptations gave this a serious thought. Not once did I ever consider Affleck to be a legitimate contender for this role because he’s simply way too high-profile for it. What motivates an actor who’s already made millions and could give two shits if people don’t like his performance? I simply do not know, but actors who have neither of those are more likely to deliver a better performance and that’s what it should really be about.
The one thing I’d really like to know is what Affleck’s boy, Kevin Smith has to say about this. I’m sure he’s polishing his knee pads for the man now that the decision’s been made, and it’s out there for everyone to discuss, but I’d want to know what he’d say behind closed doors before any rumors concerning his casting were ever conceived.
I know I should be a more mature, reasonable and responsible journalist in regards to expressing my opinion on this matter, but I simply never cared for Ben Affleck, any of his films, his association with J-Lo, and his (generally speaking) smarmy attitude. I care even less for him now that he’s been tapped to be my favorite vigilante. I realize I should reserve all judgment until the film comes out, but that would be difficult seeing how I am giving serious thought to boycotting DC’s films from this point on.
Make mine Marvel!