Upon announcement by Warner Bros. that Ben Affleck will play the Dark Knight in the upcoming Batman Superman film, the Internet lit up with negative comments faster than the bat signal during a Joker rampage. Change.Org even went to far as to post a petition on their website calling for the removal of Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne. To date there have been over 95,000 supporters. Seems as if there are a fair amount of Gothamites upset about the new face behind the famous cowl.
But is this fair? The haters point out that his acting ability is sub-par and that his presence in the movie will take away from the gritty feel of the re-boots and bring it back to the campy schlock that plagued the films all throughout the 90’s. As an avid comic book collector and devotee of all things super hero I originally agreed with these observations. But then I thought about the actors who have played the Caped Crusader over the years (Adam West not included) and realized that they brought about the same trepidation from fans and fanboys alike.
Michael Keaton (Batman, Batman Returns) – Known for his 80’s comedies and his ability to be over the top entertaining (especially in the role of Beetlejuice) most fans saw Keaton as an odd choice, who only landed the role because of his professional relationship with Batman director Tim Burton. And while he was charismatic as Bruce Wayne, it was hard to picture him kicking bad guy butt.
Val Kilmer (Batman Forever) – A slick, handsome actor who proved he could also do the action hero thing in Willow, but he was fighting uphill against a lousy script and funhouse direction. That and the fact that he came off as stiff made sure that he only donned the role once.
George Clooney (Batman & Robin) – “Clooney is okay but unremarkable as Bruce Wayne/Batman…” stated film critic Leonard Maltin and it shows. While this is easily the worst Batman movie ever made, Clooney just didn’t seem to fit his bat nipples.
Christian Bale (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises) – Initially well received by a public hungry for another tale from Gotham after an eight-year drought, Bale’s “Batman Voice” has become one of the longest running jokes on the internet and late night talk show circuit in entertainment history. Yes, the movies were good and yes he managed both sides of Batman with above average acting, but that voice! Come on.
Basically, I know this may sound sappy, but give Ben a chance. He has the charm and good looks to be Bruce Wayne, and if you think he can’t rock the same street style fighting Batman is known for, you should watch his performance in the stark crime drama The Town. I for one am looking forward to the upcoming Batman Vs. Superman movie and am willing to give Mr. Affleck the benefit of the doubt… Oh, and there is one more thing. There were very similar petitions online when Heath Ledger was announced as the Joker and he went on to win the only (and sadly) posthumous Academy Award for his portrayal of the iconic DC Character. Think about it.
by Ian Murphy