Well, the casting news of Ben Affleck as the new Batman certainly has gotten a lot of attention. From what I saw on twitter last night, and have read this morning, it seems like most people are less than thrilled with this casting choice. And let me just say, without hesitation, these people are wrong.
First of all, I’m an unabashed Baffleck fan. I think “Gone Baby Gone” is one of the best movies of the last twenty years, and I think “The Town” is underrated. Obviously “Argo” was well-received, and with those three movies, I think it’s safe to say Baffleck has turned into quite the director.
But what of his acting talent, you might ask? Well, let’s see. He’s already been great in unintentionally funny roles like “Armageddon.” (Look at how seriously he talks about animal crackers!) He killed it in “Good Will Hunting” (“Every day, I knock on your door.”)
Most people seem to point to “Daredevil” as a reason why Baffleck can’t work in a comic-book movie, but that’s neither here nor there. First, “Daredevil” wasn’t that bad (I said it, and a 45% on Rotten Tomatoes is certainly not terrible). People love to hate on it because it’s from that period of time when Baffleck was making bad movies (“Gigli,” “Paycheck,” etc.), but it’s actually enjoyable, and Baffleck does a good job (I think the Colin Farrell/Michael Clarke Duncan parts are more troublesome). And besides, it’s where he met his wife, so let’s give him a pass on that one.
Second, “Daredevil” and “Batman” are entirely different characters; just because someone couldn’t play, say, Peter Parker doesn’t mean they’d make a bad Wolverine.
I think you have to look at this casting in two ways. One: Can Baffleck be a good character in this upcoming movie? Note: I didn’t say can he be a good Batman, I said character. Because, as we all know, the key to playing Batman isn’t just being Batman – it’s actually much more about being a good Bruce Wayne. And I think Baffleck can kill it as Bruce Wayne. Haunted billionaire playboy, who’s often fallen from grace, with personal demons he’s trying to keep at bay? That is right up Baffleck’s alley. He’ll be smooth and charming, but also have a touch of danger underneath Wayne’s posh exterior. Look at Baffleck in “State of Play” (hell, look at him just in the trailer, when he says “I tuh-rusted you”); he’s great at smarmy rich guy who thinks he knows everything!
The other way you have to look at this casting is this: rightly or wrongly, people loved Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. (I, for one, thought it was overrated). Anyone who replaced Christian Bale was going to get scrutinized mercilessly. People who wanted Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Those are all fine actors, but are they right for Bruce Wayne? Are they right for Batman? No. So Zack Snyder and the producers went out and said, “We know people are going to dissect this casting choice, and hate it no matter what we do, so let’s go bold and get a great actor who can kill it.”
And don’t think that Baffleck won’t absolutely own Henry Cavill onscreen. Baffleck is at his best when we’ve counted him out. Again, he took the failures of “Gigli” and his public overexposure and turned it into a directing trilogy most directors would kill for. I can’t wait for Cavill to saunter into Wayne manor, see Baffleck with a glass of brandy and an odd smile, hear about how he’s saving crime-ridden Gotham, and have the two of them team up to fight the Joker/Lex Luthor/whoever.
And that’s part of the issue I have with people being so down on Baffleck: He’s not headlining his own new Batman movie. The whole point is that he’s teaming up with/fighting against Henry Cavill’s Superman. You’re not asking Baffleck to launch a new franchise; rather, he has to play a major secondary role. And he’s proven to be a fantastic supporting player, from “Good Will Hunting” to “Smokin’ Aces” to “Hollywoodland,” to being the only tolerable part of “He’s Just Not That Into You.”
Let’s also not forget one other thing: Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney? All were a mixed bag, at best, as Batman/Bruce Wayne. Christian Bale was excellent in the first Nolan movie, but was relegated to the sidelines for the last two. (The second Nolan movie is basically the story of Harvey Dent). But this is a chance to make a great Batman with some gravitas (a la Nolan) who also can have some fun (a la Tim Burton).
So, hate on the Baffleck casting if you will. I know I’ll be in line opening night to see what he, Cavill and Zack Snyder have come up with.