Ben Affleck is Batman and he’s the perfect fit for the latest screen incarnation of Bob Kane’s iconic superhero. I’ve seriously thought that Affleck would make a great Batman for about fifteen years (going back to Good Will Hunting and Armageddon). He’s got the build and the look to portray the ultimate Bruce Wayne/Batman. Sure, his only onscreen superhero performance was in 2003’s lacklustre Daredevil, a film that fails on many levels – but not because of Affleck.
There has been a lot of outcry at Affleck’s casting as The Dark Knight in Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel follow-up, mainly from people who appear to be trapped in 2004 when Ben Affleck was a cultural whipping boy due to his association with Jennifer Lopez. Yes, he was caught in the Hollywood machine in the early noughties, but he was always a viable leading man; his career resurgence has shown an actor and filmmaker of great maturity. Since 2006, he’s starred (and /or directed) Hollywoodland (ironically as Superman actor George Reeves, opposite Diane Lane), State Of Play, Gone Baby Gone, The Company Men, The Town, Argo and To The Wonder. That’s a great run.
Affleck is a multiple award-winner and one of the few Hollywood stars willing to use their clout to make movies with a bit more depth – and Batman will help him continue to do this for a decade or so. Warner Bros obviously want to hold on to Affleck, he’s directed and starred-in The Town and Argo for the studio, two critically acclaimed box office hits (a rare thing). The studio wants to solidify its relationship with him – they even offered him directing duties on Man of Steel and Justice League (along with the role of Batman). He declined and it looked like he had taken himself out of the running from any comic book adaptation. This new movie means that he’ll be able to dip his toe into the superhero genre without the heaving lifting, but you can be sure that Warner Bros will want him to topline and likely direct his own stand-alone Batman series.
It’s believed that Affleck and Warner Bros have been hammering out a deal for this since February. If this is true then Snyder and company have an idea where this Superman and Batman team-up is going. Affleck is not going to jeopardise his new-found acclaim and box office standing – the spectre of Daredevil looms large. Batman should give him the box office security to deliver more personal (and riskier) projects between super hero movies – something that Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp have shamefully failed to do with their international bankability.
Affleck will be able to stand opposite Henry Cavill’s Superman and be a strong physical presence (something someone like Ryan Gosling couldn’t do). He’s older and taller than Cavill, which should translate to interesting on-screen chemistry. Ben Affleck will be able to bring his own take to Batman, without the baggage of Christian Bale – we won’t need another origin story as his Batman will be established within Snyder’s world.
Batman vs. Superman opens on 17 July 2015