So it’s official. Ben Affleck is the new Batman and will replace Christian Bale in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie. It’s all over my Facebook feed, and barring a few exceptions, most people are not willing to give him a shot (although Buzzfeed had an article about 21 reasons why we should). I’m like most of the people on Facebook. I have many concerns. This could end up being Marvel’s version of the Hulk, where you had three different Hulk movies (including the Avengers) with three different actors playing Bruce Banner (Bana, Norton, and Ruffalo). More importantly, as my friend Nic Myers pointed out, if you don’t nail the casting for Batman vs. Superman, you jeopardize the whole Justice League franchise. It’s already somewhat tainted with Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern, if they do decide to bring him back.
I’m guessing that people haven’t erased Daredevil from their memory yet (it’s difficult since he is married to Elektra), and this is the principle reason why Ben is getting so much flack. Remember when Chris Evans was selected to play Marvel’s Captain America, when he also starred as Fantastic Four’s Human Torch? The nerd in me was appalled that the same actor got to play two distinct characters within the same Marvel Universe. At least Ben Affleck is crossing over from Marvel to DC. However, Daredevil was a trilogy worthy character that was, at least partially, destroyed by Affleck (and his wife). For those Daredevil doubters, there are rumors that Disney is seeking a reboot of the franchise.
With the maturation of CG, classic storylines, and continuous character development through trilogies and crossovers, superhero movies in recent years have begun to develop a certain gravitas. It has certainly transcended nerd-dom. Audiences around the globe have tremendous expectations when it comes to these movies, and this is more sharply felt in America because these comics are our comics. They are part of our childhood, and in some ways, they are part of our own mythos. Where is Gotham City? Somewhere in America. Metropolis? Somewhere in America. Where is Stark Towers? New York City. Again, America. Captain America. You get the idea. This is why, despite having laudable performances in “Argo” and “The Town”, the collective, almost reflexive response to Affleck’s selection was one of contempt. But this should be more of a reflection on the role than of the actor. Personally, Christian Bale didn’t convince me until the “The Dark Knight”. For that matter, Chris Evans didn’t have me convinced of Captain America until this scene from “The Avengers”.
I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see how Affleck performs. The Buzzfeed article did have a lot of good points though. The reaction when Heath Ledger was selected as the Joker was pretty bad, although not as universal. Ledger’s performance not only turned out to be iconic, but he received a posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker in “The Dark Knight”. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for Ben.