Throughout this entire article I want you to remember one thing: Ben Affleck has multiple Academy Awards. That is enough for any actor to play the Dark Knight. I’m not at all worried about Affleck’s ability. True, I have reservations about his Bruce Wayne, however he is paid large amounts of money to be somebody else; it’s his job. Essentially that’s the issue: this is a top billed actor, an actor who is very much a desired commodity, a professional with multiple Academy Awards. I don’t think he will be donning the cape and tights for cheap.
Warner Brothers has been very clear on their goals, they want a “Justice League” movie to rival “Marvel’s The Avengers”—well, really what they said was they want “Avengers” money. That’s the dream, every movie executive saw that 1.5 billion dollar pay out and creamed their pants. They had been trying to make a “Justice League” movie since 2007 and failed continuously—worse than if they had handed production off to Uwe Boll. Now Marvel sucker-punched them with their own stagnation. Gears were shifted and they doubled down, now was the time to bring out all the heroes starting with the invincible alien himself, Superman. Henry Cavill came in to fill the red booties and cape and that decision made a ton of sense, here’s why: he is a relatively young B-list actor who could sign on for nine movies without costing Warner Brothers hundreds of millions of dollars. He’s locked in for whatever comes down the pipeline. In fact, Henry’s performance was one of the only things that almost everyone agreed on. He did an amazing job portraying Clark’s curiosity and Supes’ optimism. That was a casting that showed some real thought in who the character of Superman is.
This was a good sign because it was how “The Avengers” started. Remember way back to 2008 when a movie called “Iron Man” showed up at movie theatres? Did they cast Brad Pitt or Russell Crowe to fill the metal shoes of Tony Stark? No, because that would have cost an obscene amount of money. Instead they cast Robert Downey Jr., a man just recovering from drug abuse and putting the pieces of his career back together. He was so far down on the lists of actors it would have been more expensive to buy a Honda Civic. But they cast him and locked him into a multi-picture deal because he was perfect for the role, who better to understand the fall from fame and recalculating your whole life than Robert? Now, five years later, they released “Iron Man 3”. Who here remembers the fuss a few months ago when Robert Downey Jr. demanded more money? There were serious rumors that Disney was going to step in and find another diva to fill the role of Iron Man. Compare where Robert Downey Jr. started to where Ben Affleck started, a double Academy Award winning actor at the height of his career.
If I were to truncate all my worries into one sentence it would be, “Back to 90’s nipple suit Batman”. Everyone on the internet is harkening back to the days of Michael Keaton but go a little bit further to the Val Kilmer Batman. Or even further to the George Clooney Batman. Back in the 90s we were graced with these two because a Warner Brothers executive backed a dump truck up to each of their houses and poured out enough money to sink the Titanic. What was the result? Two different performances that weren’t really stellar and are the most ridiculed out of the entire Batman universe—more than the Adam West Batman of the 60’s. Where did these mistakes come from? Val Kilmer and George Clooney were names at the top of their careers. They were big stars that Warner Brothers used to draw in all those people that are not “comic book geeks”.
People can look at Warner Brothers long history of comic book movie flubs and get disheartened: a Green Lantern movie that changed every cool thing about the Lantern universe into something asinine and gross; a potential Wonder Woman movie helmed by Joss Whedon that would have been incredible had DC got past the pitching phase; “Catwoman” staring another Academy Award winning actress, Halle Berry, which was more like watching a hobo eat his own vomit. There is one thing that all of these movies have in common, Warner Brothers executives thought they knew more than professionals that work in the medium. Every decision made for these movies are not in order to make the best movie, everything is done because it would look really “Badass”. And now Ben Affleck is supposed to reassure me that they have turned everything around, that now they’re listening to the fan base? To me this screams pandering.
Let’s go back to 2008, before “Iron Man”. In the months leading up to the release, if you had done a street poll and asked people to identify comic book characters off of a list from : A)Superman B)Batman C)Hulk D)Spider-Man E)Iron Man. Everyone would name A and B, C would elicit a lot of walking jokes from the older crowd, even D would get some takers. But who the hell is Iron Man? A second rung character in the Avengers. In order to get movie goers, Marvel had to really blitz the public with who Tony Stark is; they had to sell it. Everyone knows who Batman is; at this point nobody even needs his origin story. Wealthy, movie, mugging, dead parents, crazy ninja cop. So why does the public need a name to sell them on this movie? That’s easy, WB thinks they know better. Ben Affleck isn’t a gift to fans, he is an apology as they grovel for making another comic book movie. It’s as if they are trying so hard to appeal to the non-comic book fan that they begin to alienate those who already have deep connections to the characters. Warner Bros. isn’t excited to make a superhero movie, they want to produce blockbusters. That’s it. And unfortunately Ben Affleck has taken the brunt of the hostility.
I have complete faith Ben Affleck will be awesome, he has two Academy Awards, he’s a professional, he knows what he’s doing.
“By playing a superhero in Daredevil, I have inoculated myself from ever playing another superhero. Wearing a costume was a source of humiliation for me and something I wouldn’t want to do again soon.” –Ben Affleck
What did Warner Brothers promise him to get him back in a costume? He may be signed on for multiple movies but so was Ryan Reynolds and I am no eager for him to fill that contract.