Ben Affleck + Batman = Internetsplosion. Having seemingly not learnt from earlier such instances, and to withhold judgment ’til further notice the collective voice of the angry internet battened up the hatches and declared the news that actor Ben Affleck had been cast as Bruce Wayne in Warner Bros. upcoming reboot of the character. As of writing over 50,000 people have signed a Change.org petition decrying the decision with in-sync chants of “Daredevil”, while the hashtag #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck trended on Twitter for over 24 hours. Out-dated pop culture references aside, it’s the misuse of a theoretically valuable resource such as Change.org that irks the most.
It’s a clear lack of imagination and understanding that is fuelling the complaints. In the same way that many decried Ledger as the “gay cowboy” having not actually seen Brokeback Mountain, Affleck is being written off based on his supposedly lousy performance as the titular Daredevil, by people unaware of his stellar work in front of the camera in Argo, The Town and this year’s best film, To The Wonder. One might be forgiven for assuming that last year’s award season dominance of his Argo sealed the return of the prodigal son, and confirmed his talent for good. His earlier back catalogue is actually fairly impressive too. It certainly compares well to that of Christian Bale’s when that particular actor took on the mantle of the bat. Dazed & Confused, Chasing Amy, Good Will Hunting and Hollywoodland are all great movies, and while there is a fair share of uninteresting garbage in there, I’d struggle to name a Hollywood actor that doesn’t have a Forces Of Nature (or a Reign Of Fire, for that matter) in their oeuvre. This bizarre and stubborn determination to constantly cite Daredevil as some kind of reason for why Affleck is not up to the task is akin to rolling out Shaft as an excuse to bash Bale. Incidentally, Affleck genuinely looks the part too. He’s a dead ringer for the Dark Knight of the fondly remembered the Paul Dini/Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series from the mid-90’s, with many even going so far as to declare that iteration of the character, as voiced by Kevin Conroy to be the definitive portrayal of the Caped Crusader (Incidentally Dini himself referred to Affleck as his first choice for the role).
I picked this post at random late last night in an attempt to capture the essence of the . It hits every note. Inexplicable reliance on Daredevil as core of argument? Check. Promise to boycott the movie that will inevitably be rescinded? Check. Alternative, “better” suggestion? Check. He even gets extra points for a lazy choice for his alterna-Wayne. Brilliantly Affleck himself addressed this very issue himself some 12 years ago, in a throwaway moment that now seems wonderfully prescient.
It’s not like this is even a recent phenomena. Bleeding Cool reminded us earlier this week that some 50,000 people took the time to complain about Tim Burton’s decision to cast Muchael Keaton in the same role in 1980. And this was pre-Internet, which meant that people actually had to partake in actual physical activity to sign a petition.
History shows the complainants to have been hasty in their pre-judgements. As the ink fades on the genuinely unusual behaviour of the Craig Not Bond crew we’re left with hazy, almost fond memories of a group of people with far too much time on their hands and poor judgment, and a pile of great Bond movies. Craig Not Bond is still going strong by the way, which is a startlingly depressing fact to come across.
For me this kind of behaviour ultimately just shows how out of touch the vast majority of ‘regular’ people are with film culture. Affleck’s renaissance went unnoticed by the mainstream. Which is disappointing.
Adam Batty – Editor-In-Chief
P.S. Last week’s advertised Editorial will now appear next week.
Farewell, Philip French. The departing Observer film critic answers readers’ questions.
The CriticWire Survey. The Survey took a break this week. It’ll be back next week though.
Photo credit – alemarques21