These three words, or two and a half words are sending shockwaves through the bat-osphere. For those who are busy living in the real world, reading real news let me fill you in. In the next film involving the caped crusader, Ben Affleck will be playing the Batman.
I had the exact same reaction you just did.
Ben Affleck? The fella from that genius janitor film? The lad who thought Gigli was a good idea? The man who was in DareDevil?? These are the first examples of the Affleck attack on the big screen that jump into most peoples minds, but let’s look at his career as a hole and then see if he is a good fit for the Dark Knight.
Before we do that, I think we should look back at the most recent installment. I am one of the only people in the world who thought that Chris Nolan butchered batman. The first film is the strongest of his trilogy by a long way, even with a dodgy Katie Holmes performance. It was new; it was interesting even if the voice Bale used destroyed the sound system in the local cinema. The second was filled with so many plot holes that if it wasn’t for Heath Ledger putting in THAT portrayal of the joker we would all have been sitting there with our heads in our hands in embarrassment at paying €30 for tickets/popcorn/parking/therapy. Then the third followed the exact same story layout as the second, just with weaker characters and much weaker portrayals of the characters. Not to mention the worst possible ending he could have thought of.
For me, the best is still the Burton 1989 epic. Simple story, strong characters and very strong performances from all. No fannying about. No flipping everything 90 degrees to try to be the writer of the sixth sense.
If you are too young to have seen the sixth sense, then Bruce Willis was a ghost all along!
Anyway, back to Affleck. He came to my attention through the genius of Kevin Smith and his films Mallrats and Chasing Amy. He was the token eye candy in these films; he was competent, charismatic but not quite a leading man yet. Then the screw started turning with ‘Good Will Hunting’. Himself and Damon where strong on screen and had great chemistry. They deserved the Oscar that year. The world was open to our Ben. His choices for projects after that where questionable to say the least. Phantoms, Armageddon (don’t cry ladies), forces of nature, Dogma (genius), Pearl Harbour. What I am trying to say is that it wasn’t going well for Ben. Between dodgy film choices and having Jennifer Lopez keeping him on the leash, he was being kicked around in Hollywood. The star was falling.
He eventually got himself together and started directing, starting with Gone Baby Gone, based on a novel by Dennis Lehane. People started to take notice. Maybe he wasn’t just the Armageddon eye candy fella. He kept working on the other side of the lens and directed The Town. A great film about a heist. Then came Argo, if you leave your historical legitimacy brain at the door it is also fantastic. With Affleck acting up a storm. Deservedly winning another Oscar.
So what does this have to do with Batman I hear you ask? Well it shows that Affleck is on the upswing again. He is putting in his best work and this is something I want to see when he pulls on the cowl and cape.
Also, Affleck loves comics. I did not know this until researching him for this piece. His reasoning for Daredevil (I wont mention it again) was that Frank Miller wrote it and they weren’t going to make another Batman film after George Clooney’s nippled bat suit and cod-piece debacle in Batman Forever. Clooney’s crotch got on screen 2 seconds before the rest of him did. That just isn’t Batman!
Let’s break it down. Ben looks like Bruce Wayne. He is tall, dark and (so the ladies tell me) handsome…….ok, no ladies told me, that was me talking there. If they chose the semi reclusive Wayne, the non show off that was in the 1989 Batman, expertly played by Keaton, then Affleck will flourish in the role. He is the master of understatement. If they go towards the Nolan version of Wayne, the show-off prick Bruce Wayne then I think everyone will turn on him even further.
Affleck knows comics, I assume he has worked his way into having some power over the film; it is this reason that makes me think that he won’t let nonsense get in the way of the story.
So he will be a great, understated Bruce Wayne.
Now on to Batman. Will he have a stupid voice like Bale? Or will he just be a meaner version of Wayne like Keaton was? This is the key choice in his journey. His love of comics will hopefully guide him into making the right choice. Bale was NOT a good Batman. He couldn’t speak a sentence without stopping for breath because of that voice. His had horrible dialogue to work with which didn’t help. If Ben can ‘mean it up’ whilst in the suit then he will be more believable. The more believable our hero is then better the film will be.
With all the backlash, we have to remember that when Michael Keaton was offered the role in the 1989 version, everyone went berserk! The difference is that they had to write real letter with pen and paper and crayons to Warner brothers to show their anger. Keaton was the best Batman.
But there is hope for the Bat-Fleck.
Feel free to comment below and debate on the Bat-Fleck, otherwise you can find me @nkeegan on twitter.
Until next time….