Comic Culture: Getting Down with the Batfleck
While I am fully aware I am a little late to the party with this topic I would like to take a few minutes this week to discuss why I think Ben Affleck is a great choice for the next Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. So, if you’ll just indulge me and put down your torches and pitchforks to hear me out…at least for a little while, then, after I’ve made my case you can unleash the hounds if you so wish.
First off, let’s address the negative so we can get it out of the way immediately. Yes, Affleck played a part in some bad movies early in his career. Movies like Gigli immediately come to mind. And, we obviously can’t overlook Daredevil which, while I like it and find the Director’s Cut to actually be pretty decent, was technically considered a box office flop. Personally, I thought Affleck’s Matt Murdock/Daredevil wasn’t all that bad. The true culprit in that movie was the combination of the screenwriting and directing. An actor can only do so much when he’s given little to work with. I mean, we are talking about Mark Steven Johnson here, the guy that would go on to create the “instant” Marvel classic Ghost Rider with Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze. I’m still trying to comprehend in my head who thought that was a good idea, let alone threw their money at a movie like that. Affleck may not have been “perfect” for that role, but he was not cast as bad as Jennifer Garner’s Elektra, or even Colin Farrel’s over the top and campy Bullseye. As much as some nerds would like to place all the blame on Affleck’s shoulders for Daredevil’s shortcomings, it was not his fault. Lastly, we are overlooking the fact that at that time comic book movies were not taken as seriously as they are now nor treated with as much respect. When it comes down to it, Johnson and company were trying to make a poor man’s Batman, and it just didn’t really work. Trying to combine a dark and gritty tone with overly campy dialogue just didn’t jive. Don’t get me wrong, I love Daredevil and the parallels between him and Batman are there (you’re naive if you think they aren’t). The movie just wasn’t treated with enough care.
After Affleck appeared to have become box office poison, he did the smartest thing he possibly could. He disappeared. But while he was gone he wasn’t jet-setting and pissing away his money. No, he was learning the other side of movie making…the actual MAKING of movies. He took his time and when the moment was right, he made his return. One of his first movies back was The Town, in which he starred and also directed. While this movie may not have “lit the box office on fire,” it did, however, gain a lot of people’s attention for its cinematography and overall direction, both of which Affleck were instrumental in handling. Fast forward to Argo. This movie took me, as well as the world, by surprise. This was Affleck’s exclamation point on his return. “Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980.” Affleck’s take on this historical event was captivating as well as deserving of all its accolades (including an Oscar for Best Picture). The cast was perfect, the writing sharp, and the directing spot on. It seems to me that if Affleck stars in a movie that he also has a hand in making success is inevitable.
So, this brings us to Batman. While Affleck is not actually directing Batman v Superman, he has definitely had his opinion and input heard for the upcoming movie. While David Goyer is the original screenwriter credited to the forthcoming film, one of Affleck’s first moves was to bring in his own screenwriter to freshen the script. Also, the movie was originally slated for an earlier release and has been pushed back. Now, speculation has run rampant as to why Warner decided to push the movie back. Affleck and his coworkers may have had a hand in it, but either way it’s a good move because it means they are going to TAKE THEIR TIME and do it RIGHT. While Zack Snyder isn’t always the best director, he does have one thing going for him. That man knows how to cast characters perfectly. Say what you will about Man of Steel. Some loved it, and some definitely hated it. Either way way it accomplished what it was supposed to do. It re-invigorated and rejuvenated a movie franchise that desperately needed it. It is honestly my belief that Affleck and Snyder together can knock this thing out of the park and fix whatever problems Man of Steel had.
In a way, I think this is partially Affleck trying to prove to the world, as well as himself, that he CAN carry a superhero franchise. With the right people behind him who support him 120% he knows he can carry this movie. And, I think he can too. Affleck has a presence about him, as well as the size and build to be the most intimidating Batman to date. Also with the “good” credit he has built up with Warner Brothers, specifically for Argo, he is a hot commodity for them. In a way this is an experiment. Batman and Superman have never been in a live action movie together to date. This is new territory and Warner Brothers seems to be doing it right (at least for right now). Affleck has a lot riding on his shoulders with this movie, and if it’s successful, all subsequent films.
So, in the end I say GIVE HIM A CHANCE. Because I think this kid is going to surprise some people and knock it out of the park. And, if I’m wrong, well then it wouldn’t be the first time.