Just One Fan's Opinion: Affleck as Batman
When a new BATMAN is chosen, it could be the biggest casting decision outside of JAMES BOND. It's an event. A moment that the comic geeks (like me) live for. Well...that’s what it should be. While we all knew we’d get a new BATMAN, I think Warner Brothers and DC missed a bit of an opportunity. When a new 007 is birthed into the world, the Bond Broccoli family announces that they’ll have an announcement for the grand announcement of the next Jimmy Bond, and then immediately push him out there, all wet and shiny in full tux mode, strutting him around for the world to fawn over. Warner decided to release…a press statement.
But so it is. The Gods gave us…Affleck. Ben…Affleck as the one and only Bruce Wayne, which left the world collectively saying…hmm, really? There were so many names out there. Personally, I wanted Josh Brolin. But at least we didn’t get Matthew Goode as Ozymandias. No thanks.
Now allow me to riddle you this. Consider this here article as a chance to represent the true BATMAN fans. Which I’d say I am. I started collecting…a long time ago. I have twenty years of bat books bagged and boarded waiting for, well, me, to read them again some day. I have boxes of Bat crap…from cool ass statues down to the black McDonald’s cardboard fry holders from BATMAN RETURNS. I can't draw anything, but when I do doodle, I doodle good old bats. Why am I admitting any of this? Well, after I learned the news last night I felt inspired. Kinda like how Bruce Wayne wanted to avenge the death of his parents by dedicating his entire life to fighting crime, I wanted to…write.
Ok, not the same but I wanted to express the voice of the authentic BATMAN fan. So I’ll suit up, take on the hoards of evil internet users, and share just one fan’s opinion.
Last night, when news broke that Affleck officially was gonna sport the cowl, it sounded...lame. Actually, I think I entered into the early stages of grief. Shock, guilt, anger, depression. Honestly, as much as I've really dug Affleck's resurgence as an actor/director (where he has emerged as Warner Bros’ new Eastwood as THE actor and director on the lot), I can't shake certain roles out of my head. REINDEER GAMES? DAREDEVIL? SURVIVING CHRISTMAS? (no reason to mention that Benifer movie.) Those roles remain stained in my brain. They stand out. It seemed any time Affleck attempted to stretch as an actor, he got worse. It’s not until he went away for a bit did we all take a second look.
However, the more I think about, what BATMAN actor didn't sound like a shit choice at first? Keaton? Please. I'm sadly old enough to remember that hire. Even as a kid, I remember thinking, "Mr. freakin’ Mom?” or “That goof from Johnny Dangerously?” Sure, BEETLEJUICE too, but still. He was a funny man, and Gotham didn’t need another Adam West. The same with Kilmer. Dude really showed his skills with TOMBSTONE and THE DOORS, but he never had the look. Jawline too damn big. The blonde hair felt wrong (never transitioning like Daniel Craig's did). He never looked nor felt the role. When Clooney suited up, I recall saying to no one that we had finally found perfection. He had the right look, the right jawline, and he was and is THE billionaire (or close to) playboy. And...well, we know all about that movie, don't we. With Bale, I think everyone understood where we were headed. Dark and moody. Unleashing Patrick Bateman on Gotham but making sure he was properly medicated and given a moral compass.
My point? I – and all Bat fans – can't rush to judgment. We have no idea where this will go, but I think it can work damn well, and what actually gives me hope is something already mentioned. Affleck has become the new Eastwood on the Warner lot in more than one way. Ok, the whole actor/director thing is obvious, but it’s his acting in THE TOWN and ARGO where he has become Eastwood. He ditched all personality and goofiness, basically embodying the role of an old school tough guy with limited emotion and range. You know...like Eastwood. Gotham needs a certain type of actor who will be different yet similar to Bale, an Eastwood-type. That’s the comic book BATMAN for the last 25 years or so: driven, secluded, moody, determined, caring, obsessive, mean, and a bit dry. That's who the successful Batmen have been. To me that’s Eastwood, and Affleck has gone all VISE VERSA on him. Or LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON. Or FREAKY FRIDAY (you get the point).
Now a little time has ticked off the clock since I originally sulked like the very large grown man I am. I fear for DAREDEVIL 2: Back in Business, but you know what, I trust in Affleck more than I do Zack Snyder, and maybe he can make Snyder into a better director. Maybe Affleck, in his new life as a grounded actor and director, might just add enough to the film to make it something really damn special. He’s older, been beaten down and humbled, and still come back for more. Like a fighter. Like a Batman. Also, like some Batmen before him, he's got the jawline, he’s been a millionaire playboy, and he has a kind of charisma not seen since...Keaton.
I hope that Affleck will avoid Bale's Tom Waits impression, but I can’t knock Bale. He was fantastic and defined the character for an entire decade. But we all knew he was finished, and it's time BATMAN fans embrace the changing of the guard more like the Bond way. The good ones don't overstay their welcome. Thankfully, we haven't had a Roger Moore situation where Batman can't run too well and collects Social Security, but Bale wouldn’t allow that to happen.
I think its safe to say that BATMAN movies will never stop, so if Warner does it right, we’ll be able to embrace these incarnations with better ease. Unlike say Iron Man, we can and already have had many Batmen...for better or worse. Hell, Affleck is the eighth head in the cowl (actors one and two were in 1940s). But if we go by the BOND rule (only EON productions count as cannon), Affleck would match the BOND total as the sixth Warner man to embrace the mantel of the Bat. If this works, I think we could have Affleck around for a while. He'll make coin. He'll have a studio to back any movie he wants to make. And if it all works out, we could have the next BATMAN to define another generation. Or we’ll have another nipple-Gate.
I’ve actually already come full circle, completed the seven stages of grief, and accepted the new guardian of Gotham. Affleck will knock the hell out of this role. He has to. All that good will he’s built will vanish like the Joker’s pencil trick. Ta-da! He knows that. He has to. Now he just has to make SUPERMAN his bitch.
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