Friday, August 23, 2013
Thoughts On... Ben Affleck As Batman
I'll admit that my instant knee-jerk reaction to this was that it was not the right choice. Now before you go misinterpreting what I write here, read my last sentence carefully. I said it was NOT THE RIGHT CHOICE, I did NOT say it was a BAD choice. Aside from the fact that Affleck has shown that he is more talented as a director than as actor, what didn't work for me is the style of acting in which Affleck excels. From his first movie, Affleck has shown a talent for delivering long tracts of dialogue that, normally, would bore an audience to tears in a way that makes it real, and emotionally engaging to his audience. For proof, look at his performances in Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Good Will Hunting, Forces of Nature, Dogma, and Armageddon. But with Batman, the problem is the character doesn't speak much. It's all done in 3 or 4 word sentences and long stares. This is not Affleck's forte. Like I said, that was my knee-jerk reaction. I've had a day to process this information and while I'm still concerned about the choice, there are other things that mitigate my issues with this casting choice.
First: Ben Affleck is a PERFECT casting choice for BRUCE WAYNE. The world sees Wayne as a either a vapid billionaire playboy or a shrewd lady killing businessman. Either way Affleck works believably in the role. For proof: look at his real life and recognize that Affleck isn't currently regarded as a great actor (kind of vapid, from what I hear) and check out the women he's dated! THAT is Bruce Wayne. The only concern is whether or not Affleck can play the darker emotional side of Bruce and after watching him in Argo, Paycheck, Sum Of All Fears The Town and Smokin' Aces, I think he has the tools to do it well.
Second: Despite what people at large believe, a Hollywood film is built by more than just the cast. Look at the crew behind this movie. The best example of the talent Affleck is coming into is the director: Zack Snyder. The man was able to film Watchmen, a graphic novel previously thought UNFILMABLE in live action. And he did a fantastic job with Man of Steel. Turning Superman into a surprisingly intriguing character and exploring the consequences of living with the powers both for Clark AND his family as opposed to just focusing on what he could destroy with those powers. And I believe that Snyder is being backed by Christopher Nolan for this film as well. Nolan's talent is unquestioned. Forget the Batman reboot he did, look at his other films: Inception, The Prestige, Insomnia, MEMENTO, for crying out loud. That kind of talent is something that must be considered. I can't begin to imagine what Nolan and Snyder can pull out of Affleck.
Also, and I can't be clear enough about this: THIS ISN'T A MOVIE ABOUT BATMAN!! This movie is about Superman meeting Batman for the first time. And Henry Cavill OWNED the role of Kal-El. I can see Cavill and Affleck working very well together. Without more knowledge of the story, and I don't want to know until I go see this movie, that's all I can say. But I'm sure that there are so many more things that can support the film. I'm hoping and praying that Lex Luthor (and that Mark Strong or Bradley Cooper is cast as Lex) is the villain for this next film, which makes the inclusion of Bruce Wayne a little more understandable. Luthor and Wayne seem to have some kind of business relationship if not a rivalry in a bunch of the comics, and that hasn't really translated to the cinematic universe yet.
Third: I must also bow down to reality. Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it. I have had bad reactions to casting choices before and been DEAD WRONG. I currently owe apologies to Tom Cruise for doubting his ability to play Lestat in Interview With A Vampire, Thomas Jane for ever doubting he could play Frank Castle in The Punisher, and Heath Ledger for doubting he could play The Joker. While I was too young to know about it at the time, I'm sure that Michael Keaton (the first man I ever saw play Batman in a movie) got the same doubts. I really don't think that the man known for Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously, Gung Ho and Beetlejuice had the audience's confidence when he was given the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in the 1989 Batman. And that lack of confidence is bizarre considering his amazing performance in Clean And Sober the year before Batman came out!
Looking at it like that, this is just a sign of history repeating itself. I have concerns, but there's enough there to mitigate them. So, to Mr Affleck: I congratulate you, sir, for getting the role. I'm sure you can already tell it's a big get. I hope the negative reactions don't get you down, Mr. Affleck and know that I wish you all the luck in the world with this role. GOOD LUCK!