Daredevil, Superman… Batman? Apparently so.
Ben Affleck will replace Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman in an as-yet-untitled Superman-Batman film for Warner Bros., the studio announced Thursday night. The project will be a sequel to the hit Superman film Man of Steel, which has grossed $650 million worldwide, and will be directed by Steel helmer Zack Snyder. Henry Cavill will reprise his role as Clark Kent/Superman, while Amy Adams will return as Lois Lane, and Diane Lane as Supes’s adoptive mother, Martha Kent. The film will open on July 17, 2015.
“We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics’ most enduringly popular superheroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some,” WB president Greg Silverman said in a statement.
“Ben provides an interesting counterbalance to Henry’s Superman,” added Snyder in a statement. “He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne.”
Affleck, 41, is an interesting choice for the role of the Caped Crusader, to say the least. He’s already played a pair of superheroes—Daredevil in the 2003 dud and Superman/George Reeves in 2006’s Hollywoodland—and was rumored to have met with Warner Bros. to discuss directing a potential Justice League film, which would have been DC Comics’ answer to Marvel’s The Avengers, and include Batman and Superman, along with a collection of other superheroes from the DC universe.
The Twitterverse, it seems, was less than impressed by the casting decision. Jokes began circulating across the site, e.g. Matt Damon as Robin, and the #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck became the No. 1 trending topic.
Whether or not Affleck can pull off the feat remains to be seen. In order to play the Caped Crusader, one has to effectively portray two characters: Bruce Wayne and his ferocious alter ego. As far as Wayne goes, Affleck has never played the suave, sophisticated bon vivant before onscreen. One could argue that he played a similar role during his JLo-dating days, showing off his chiseled jaw, slicked hair, and a plethora of designer suits on red carpets. And his performance as TV Superman George Reeves in Hollywoodland was very compelling, with the actor creating a layered character imbued with shades of gray—a tortured soul similar to Wayne. As Batman, Affleck has the right physical build—tall, broad-shouldered—but if George Clooney taught us anything, it’s that a distinctive chin can be very distracting in the batsuit, and his frosted-tipped, red spandex turn in Daredevil left much to be desired.
Affleck, of course, has already played a superhero before, as well as a guy playing a superhero. While it's not unprecedented for an actor to play multiple superheroes--Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Green Lantern), Chris Evans (Human Torch, Captain America), Halle Berry (Storm, Catwoman)--the results have been, as you can see, mediocre at best.
Then there's the matter of his age. Affleck will be a month shy of 43 when the first Superman-Batman film comes out, so if there are a few sequels, is he really going to be repelling down buildings in his 50's? Then again, you can't really fault Affleck for accepting the role. Would any actor, with three small children no less, turn down the chance to play Batman?
I, for one, would love to see an actor like Idris Elba cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Now that's change I can believe in. Of course, given Hollywood’s general ambivalence towards black superheroes, it’s unlikely.
What we do know, aside from the fact that this movie is going to make a ton of money, is that it will probably sideline Affleck from directing for quite some time, when you factor in production time, a lengthy promotional tour, and probable sequels. And, with Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo, which won the Best Picture Oscar, the actor was only getting better behind the camera. Perhaps that is the biggest let-down here.