Batman: Can Ben Affleck Cut It As The Dark Knight?

With Christian Bale retiring from the role of the Dark Knight, much speculation surrounded who would be the next Batman.

Everyone had their own fantasy preferences – many being wishful thinking of course – but eventually it was revealed who the next Batman would actually be.

The big revelation: it was Ben Affleck. The internet exploded in anger.

Mr Unpopular

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this choice was not a popular one with Batman fans.

Many took to internet forums and social networks to express strong disapproval for the casting choice.

A petition on managed to gain well over 50,000 signatures within a few days of the Affleck announcement, asking for him to be removed as Batman.

Reasons cited included his acting ability, past roles, personality and public perception. Some fans went as far to saying he would ruin the Batman legacy completely.

But, were the fans justified in their extreme disapproval or just doing what passionate fans generally do on the internet – acting without thinking and being selfishly overprotective of their favourite art? There is merit to both sides of the argument.

Fans perhaps have the right to be angry about Affleck’s appointment in regards to the actors’ portfolio. Ben Affleck has never been considered a critics darling in his acting roles – many harsh critics might even say he cannot act at all.

Like many Hollywood mainstays, he’s starred in more bad movies than good ones. He’s had success recently though in a directorial role with The Town (2010) and Argo (2012).

However, the real sticking point for Batman fans is his only superhero movie to date, Daredevil (2003), which was a flop with audiences. His lacklustre and comical performance in that film is precedent enough to justify that Affleck can never be Batman.

Another reason why so many are against Ben Affleck is because of his typecast role. Affleck is seen as a light-hearted, inoffensive, comic relief type character and not a serious actor by comparison to other action movie stars.

The role of Batman, in the eyes of fans at least, requires someone who is able to be strong, mature, threatening, dark and brooding – adjectives that haven’t been used to describe Affleck’s acting style.

However, Affleck may have matured and grown as an actor due to his time in the directorial hotseat, so these criticisms may no longer be valid by the time the new Batman film hits cinema screens in 2015.

Fan Overreaction?

Fans are probably being far too precious about the Batman acting role though, or their memories are short.

Batman, in the past, hasn’t always been a character that’s portrayed as dark and moody.

Adam West, George Clooney and Val Kilmer have all delivered light-hearted Batman performances and it’s only recently, with Christopher Nolan as director, that Batman has been taken more seriously as a character.

These performances were never critically lauded, but they were certainly more carefree, and realised the subject matter wasn’t ultra-realistic. Batman’s new role in future films where there is a crossover with other DC Comic characters will likely break the concepts of Nolan’s Batman universe, so a change of style in the form of a new Batman isn’t that absurd.

Although fans pine for the return of Christian Bale, his Batman performance was never perfect. Bale played a very good Bruce Wayne, but once in the Dark Knight’s costume he wasn’t as assured.

A common criticism of Bale’s acting as Batman was his fake, gravelly voice. It was borderline laughable and broke a lot of the seriousness that Nolan expected us to believe of his Batman universe.

Angry fans also have a history of overreacting to change in their favourite media, and are often proven wrong by writers and directors. This could be a classic case of people thinking they know best, but not realising what they need until it’s given to them. Batman fans in the past were highly critical of the casting of Heath Ledger as The Joker, as strange as that might seem now.

Ledger went on to put in a show-stealing performance in The Dark Knight (2008), in what has come to be one of the most definitive portrayals of The Joker. Yet, just like with Affleck, fans used his acting portfolio to question the casting choice.

The critics that used romantic comedies such as 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) as a stick to beat Ledger with, were silenced by his iconic role as The Joker.

In this Batman outrage saga, the best thing fans can possibly do is to calm themselves and wait for the first Ben Affleck film to be released – perhaps get a T-shirt to pass the time.

If they’re right and he’s not good for the role, then they can be smug and justifiably call for him to be axed, but until then there’s not enough solid evidence to suggest Affleck cannot be Batman.

Be patient Batman fans and put away your pitchforks. The truth is that even the most dedicated fans are not always right. Dismissing Ben Affleck at such an early stage could be the biggest mistake you ever make.

John Garrett is a nerdy movie blogger who finds amusement in geek culture’s regular outrages. (Images: Creative Commons image source and image source )


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