I truly got sucker punched this morning when I turned on my computer. Seeing the news that Ben Affleck was playing Batman in the Man of Steel sequel was so surreal that for the first time in years like a true sceptic of the external world it got me questioning whether I was still dreaming and had not woken up yet or even worse by comparison pondering whether I was now existing in a world slightly tweaked in weird and wonderful ways.
So why did I have such an extreme reaction to this bit of casting news? Well because all the elements seemed in place to tell us that this was not going to ever happen. For one the reaction to Daredevil back in 2004 was so bad that Affleck had sworn off to ever playing another caped costumed character.
However like getting to the end of a mystery novel or film, looking back in retrospect all the pieces fit together to justify this casting of our beloved Caped Crusader. Despite being hounded by the press for his private life and being laughed of screen for his performances around the 2004/2005 period, Affleck reinvented himself and it was for the better. Affleck now took to going behind the camera for a string of films that were critically acclaimed which varied in him being compared to Clint Eastwood as a director and his 2012 film “Argo” going on to win Best Picture at this year Oscars.
In the run up to the Oscars, there were some major swifts in Hollywood in terms of franchises. For one Star Wars was coming back when Disney brought Lucasfilm in November and a Justice League film was getting thrown around Warner Bros like a hot coal. It’s interesting in hindsight looking back and seeing that formally the second choice of director for Episode 7 was Ben Affleck. In addition to this he was approached to direct a Justice League film which makes sense as he has a great relationship with Warner Bros having got the critical and award buzz with “Argo” for them.
As for my own feelings on the casting news, I think that it is interesting but on the whole I am slightly mixed on the news. When thinking back to Daredevil I think that movie had a lot of problems but one of them was not Affleck. As Murdock he was charming, sly, no nonsense as well as driven. I think that I can see these qualities transfer onto him playing Bruce Wayne. However since it would have been at least a decade since he formally played a superhero, I can see the experience that he has gained in the intervening years really be a virtue when it comes to playing Batman in the upcoming film.
This is supported by the press release and rumours that have been circulating about the type of Batman we will get in the sequel to Man of Steel. We will be getting a Batman who is more seasoned, has been a hero for a while as well as being in his early to mid forties. I think this is an interesting direction to take the character as in prior interpretations Batman has been written as only weeks on the job or just starting out as opposed to someone who been on the job for years.
Affleck who is now forty-one years old, I think can pull of an older and more veteran Bruce Wayne, but my problem is that I don`t think he could pull of being Batman. While he does have the right height and build I just don`t see him having the presence of Batman. What I mean by this is someone who strikes such fear into criminals that people look at him as almost mythological or at the very least someone who means business. I feel this is especially important as some point in the film, Superman is going to stop and realise who he is dealing with and we have to believe that someone so powerful is slightly if not fundamentally perturbed at the presence of The Dark Knight.
However to play devil’s advocate, Affleck could surprise us as Batman. This is not uncommon to the comic book movie genre, going back to when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman which saw a swell of negativity because everyone had this perception that Keaton was a comedic actor and could not be Batman. But then he went on to surprise people in the role and for my money really captured the early Batman that existed within first year of the character`s long history. And he was less physically suited to playing the role of Batman then Affleck is so I`m willing to reserve my judgement on Affleck as Batman.
As for his chemistry with Henry Cavill, this is really hard to say but looking at it from a superficial point of view he is taller than Cavill and is older so we will be seeing an older Batman who in some scenes could be seen as almost dwarfing Superman and if utilised correctly these scenes could quite effective.
We must not forget that this team up movie is being posited as a sequel to Man of Steel so we should look at it that way and question how is this casting choice going to affect Cavill. I actually think that Affleck having directed three movies is going to be pragmatic about his role in the movie as opposed to trying to hog the spotlight so to speak but then again we don`t know in terms of screenplay structure the exact known quantity of his role in the upcoming 2015 movie.
Overall, despite being really taken aback at first, I am mixed to really excited about Ben Affleck playing Batman in the upcoming team up film. While I think he be a perfect older Bruce Wayne, the jury is still out on him being Batman for me but he has the right pedigree to be a really great one, I`m just hoping he has the presence to be Batman because that is fundamental for this whole film working.
Posted by Sartaj Singh