Popdose Roundtable: Ben Affleck as Batman?
Following yesterday’s surprise casting announcement of Ben Affleck as Batman in the upcoming Superman/Batman film, it took all of three seconds for a great tidal wave of fan rage to wash over the internet like few other things can. We here at Popdose, however, like to think as ourselves as being a little more detached and analytic than that. We’ll leave it to you to judge whether or not we’re full of shit.
David Medsker - Between this and his casting in Gone Girl, I’m starting to think that Ben has photographs of powerful people in compromising positions.
Thierry Côté – I’ll just re-hash my Twitter reaction: “Ben Affleck is a bad man? What?”
Dw. Dunphy - I didn’t buy him as Daredevil. Why would I buy him as Batman?
Scott Malchus - Sucks to be Henry Cavill. Usually the hero gets overshadowed by the villain in these pictures.
I think Affleck has become such a smart filmmaker/businessman that part of me thinks there is some agreement with WB that they’ll bankroll some big budget dream project he has in return for this.
Chris Holmes - I never saw Daredevil, but understand people think poorly of it. Was his performance really that bad?
Malchus - Daredevil is not good all around. But Affleck is such a better actor since then.
Holmes - And let’s face it, it’s not as if the Batman/Bruce Wayne character takes incredible acting chops. If the direction is good and the dialogue isn’t hokey, you could almost plug in any handsome actor with even a drop of gravitas (which Affleck now has) and do OK.
Medsker - I’ve never seen Daredevil, but I’m confident that he is only a small part of the problem with regard to what’s wrong with the movie.
I like Ben, I really do. But he’s too old to play Nick Dunne, and he’s too blue collar to play Bruce Wayne.
Holmes - As I opined on Twitter last night, if Keaton can pull it off why couldn’t Affleck?
DX Ferris - Context for my comments: I think all the ’80s-’90s Batman movies are awful. Even Burton’s first one. I think Michael Keaton is generally great, but he doesn’t work as Batman. He has the intensity and presence for a good Bruce Wayne. But he wasn’t the right physical type. Someone who spent his life becoming Batman would have a different look, a different body type, a different physicality. The Nolan Batmovies are fine and all, especially The Dark Knight. But I don’t love them. I think the best adaptation of Batman, by far, is the new-ish cartoon adaptations of Dark Knight Returns, the greatest Batman story. That said…
I think Affleck could work.
Here’s my reservation: On video, I think don’t think Batman was truly represented as an action hero before The Dark Knight Returns. Unlike Michael Keaton, Bale was physically plausible. But in the Nolan movies, Batman does not kick much ass. He doesn’t leap from rooftop to rooftop, engaging in badass hand-to-hand combat. Yeah, there’s some action. But recount a memorable Batman FIGHT from the trilogy.
Now, I’m pro-Affleck, generally. Barring some plot details, Chasing Amy holds up well. And he has done far better work since.
I think Affleck could be good in the role, as a static figure. But can he kick ass? The Man of Steel team showed us that they can put together true, awesome, hardcore action sequences. And I don’t blame Affleck for Daredevil‘s unremarkable action. (Aside: Damon in Bourne mode would have been a perfect Daredevil in a movie with a different director and less modern rock on the soundtrack.)
Anyhow, I believe that’s what Affleck’s success in the role will hinge on: How willing are the producers to put Affleck through the paces of appearing as a plausible action hero? And how will the producers/writers present Batman in the film? Will he be a Frank Miller-style badass? Maybe Affleck could do that. Or will he be the Grant Morrison God-Batman who can think a hole through you? Affleck can very probably pull that off.
The entire movie is rushed, though. In their hurry to Marvel-ize & monetize the DC universe, the studio is making this movie too soon. Two other flicks should precede it, at least: 1) A Superman sequel; Man of Steel perfectly sets up a second Superflick with Luthor as his nemesis. Then 2) a Batman reboot. It’s way too soon to have these two in some kind of showdown. A teamup might work better.
I believe Affleck can be a good Bruce Wayne. But as Clooney & Kilmer showed, it’s not enough to have a good Bruce Wayne. I believe Affleck could be a good Batman. And if he isn’t, it won’t be his fault.
Dunphy - I just don’t know why you so obviously lay the foundation for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and then not use him. It’s as if Warners is hopping at the bathroom door with St. Vitus Dance: “We gotta have Batman back NOOOWWWW…we can’t wait for people to be available!!”
Then they get Afflecked in the alleyway.
I’m saying all this with a side agenda. Affleck has come to be a very good director with a desire to make movies that are different from superhero flicks. And I love superhero flicks, but the market is so damned saturated. It bugs me that he will not only be sidetracked from making one of his movies, but will be doing so by adding another dudes-in-tights opus on the log pile.
Matt Springer - I have feels! And thinks!
I hate Zack Snyder so I had already written this project off. Adding Affleck makes me slightly more interested because I do think he’s an interesting talented guy. I don’t think he’s right for Batman or Bruce Wayne, but many thought the same of Michael Keaton, or Val Kilmer, or George Clooney. (Okay, we were ALL right about Clooney.)
Like Dw, I’m more disappointed that Affleck has chosen to spend his time on this claptrap than on making another great film. He’s a director I’ve come to enjoy a great deal, from Gone Baby Gone to Argo (still haven’t seen The Town, it’s on my DVR). He’s also got a decent set of awards to his credit thanks to Argo so I can’t imagine he would need Warner Bros. to bankroll some dream project at this point; if he had a dream project, and WB didn’t want to be in business with him, there would have to be a studio in Hollywood that would give him carte blanche based solely on his existing film-making pedigree.
Now if this is a prelude to a Justice League movie starring and directed by Affleck, that has my attention.
I also second much of what Ferris said on WB’s ham-handed approach to “catching up” with Marvel in the film department. I think WB is more about talent and less about ideas when it comes to this stuff, and it’s all very reactive. Marvel has been very wise in selecting the right people to support an overall vision. WB wants to pick people that they think will make successful movies, and the approach is almost secondary. They’ve come up lucky in some cases (I love the Nolan Bat-films, and I liked the two Burton flicks) but when they don’t, it really exposes how little faith they really put into the value of these characters. There’s a reason we’ve got 75 years of Superman comics and almost as many Batman ones–there’s something fundamental about these concepts. Get them right, and worry less about how to generate big cash and fast-food tie-ins based on the latest “hot” movies. All of that will come.
To me, choosing Snyder in the first place was a big step in the wrong direction. We’ll see if Affleck can survive that. I just want to see his next directorial effort, cowl or not.
Ferris - Matt, it’s a minor miracle that Snyder didn’t fuck up the Superman movie worse. I think Nolan & Goyer tied him up & kept him in a broom closet, and just used his name to lure in suckers. I missed Watchmen on the big screen, and I took a vow to never watch the movie. But I did sneak a peak at a couple scenes on cable, and I remain freshly committed to my initial vow.
Dan Wiencek - The problems with Daredevil — and it pains me to say it, because I love that character more than any other long-underwear hero — were far more Mark Steven Johnson’s doing than Affleck’s. It did some things well. I thought the way they visualized his radar sense was cool. A few other things here and there worked. But it actually would have been better had a less die-hard fan taken it on; Johnson tried to cram too much in (from the comic as well as a bunch of shots purloined from his favorite movies) and he couldn’t make it work.
Affleck did an OK job all things considered. Now, Jennifer Garner? Completely miscast. Hot, but nothing like what Elektra should have been.
[Holmes pokes Wiencek with stick]
Oh, right — we’re talking about Batman. I guess I should say that, irrespective of Daredevil, I’ve never had much of a problem with Affleck. First saw him in Shakespeare in Love — I thought he did a great job in that small part. He’s done other things I’ve liked. But one thing I don’t really see him as is a heavily internalized, “wheels-turning” kind of character. Beneath that thin veneer of playboy daftness, Bruce Wayne is a very tightly wound individual, and I have unpleasant visions of Ben Affleck as a “brooding” Bruce Wayne and not pulling it off. I am willing to be proven wrong however.
And just to stir up the pot further, I found that Dark Knight Returns cartoon boring; I haven’t even bothered to watch the second part. I guess Miller’s functioning-psychopath take on Batman is a little more digestible when it’s just in your head as opposed to when you’re seeing and hearing it.
Ferris - Dan, that’s a great note on Shakespeare in Love. He has a gravitas in that movie that didn’t emerge again for many years. As always, I blame the directors.
The first installment of Dark Knight Returns underwhelmed me the first time through, but the second had me applauding. Spoiler: Batman convincingly beats up Superman, with some truly rad action shots. Then they only get better with subsequent viewings. Part I is a tad dull. I think leaving out the monologue was a mistake. Part II rules.
Côté - I tried to Google this but only came up with dozens of articles about the casting news – is Affleck going to be the first actor to play both Superman (a very underrated performance in Hollywoodland) and Batman?
Dunphy - Agreed on Elektra. Jennifer Garner is not Greek.
Will Harris - I feel like it speaks volumes about how far Ben Affleck has come in the past several years that, when the announcement dropped late yesterday that he’d been cast as Batman, I honestly didn’t think about the fact that he’d played Daredevil until…well, this roundtable discussion. Seriously. And I freaking *own* the movie! (Don’t look at me like that: A) I didn’t actually hate it, B) I got it as a birthday present, anyway, and C) even if I’d wanted to purge it from my collection at some point, it’s not like it’s a hot commodity on the used-DVD market.)
I really don’t have any problem with Affleck taking over the cowl. I certainly wouldn’t have named him as my first choice for the role, but he cleans up well, he’s shown in the past that he’s capable of credible performances in action films, and the combination of his experience both in front of and behind the camera has done wonders for his acting chops. I agree that Warner Brothers seems to be rushing a bit in their attempts to perform what’s being reasonably perceived as a Marvel-ization of DC’s cinematic universe, but I don’t see the hiring of Affleck as being a bad move by any means. I do kind of wish that someone other than Zack Snyder was at the helm, though. I liked Man of Steel well enough — certainly better than Superman Returns, that’s for damned sure — but from a directorial standpoint, he tends to be too in-your-face for my personal tastes.
I will say, though, that someone seriously needs to take Bryan Cranston up on his offer to play Lex Luthor. You give me that, and I’ll be first in the fucking line for tickets.
Dunphy - The last statement would be that I’m assuming this is a 2015 window? Because already Marvel has Guardians Of The Galaxy, Thor 2, Cap 2, X-Men First Class 2, Amazing Spider Man 2, and Ant Man on the horizon. I don’t know what Warner/DC is planning, but a lot of how this film performs will depend on the fatigue the audience might experience between now and then.
Jon Cummings - Script mashup: “Superheroes upstage, villains downstage! Are you a villain, Mr. Kent?!?”