Friday, August 23, 2013

Ben Affleck as Batman


That happened.

Warner Bros. has announced that Ben Affleck will play Batman in the untitled Superman vs. Batman movie scheduled to open July 15.  Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) will direct, and Henry Cavill (Supes), Amy Adams (Lois), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), and Diane Lane (Ma Kent) will all return.

But why did WB ask him? And why did he say yes?

Let's start with why Affleck would say yes.

He's famously declared he's trying to be pickier about his projects.  He did a ton of paycheck movies, including one called Paycheck, but somewhere around the time Man About Town went straight to DVD, the Academy-Award winning writer decided to make his directorial debut with Gone Baby Gone. It was a critical success and garnered Amy Ryan a slew of nominations for her performance as the imperfect mother whose daughter gets kidnapped.  The box-office wasn't great.

His next few acting gigs were decent.  A harmless part of the the ensemble in He's Just Not That Into You, teaming with Russell Crowe in State of Play after Edward Norton dropped out, co-starring with Tommy Lee Jones in The Company Men.  He directed and starred in The Town, and that brought financial as well as critical success (and a slew of nominations for co-star Jeremy Renner).

He then directed and starred in Argo, where he got critical and financial success, and multiple awards for himself as director and producer.  He didn't win the Oscar for Directing for Argo, but he did as one of Argo's producers.

As for his own acting, he did Terrence Malick's To the Wonder and the upcoming Runner Runner for director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer).  He's also going to direct and star in Live the Night (based on the book by Dennis "Gone Baby Gone" Lehane), and he'll star in David Fincher's Gone Girl.

So why did Affleck say yes to Batman?

My best guess - some give-and-take with Warner Bros.  He'll do Batman, and they will in turn finance his next couple projects which might be riskier than normal.  In addition, he might see it as an acting challenge. He may have been teased about his voice, but Bale did a dang good job as Batman/Bruce Wayne.  So can he step into those boots and not make everyone go "Bale was better. Keaton, too."  He's been unafraid before to take over famous roles. (The new Jack Ryan in Sum of All Fears, for example.)

So why would Warner Bros. ask Affleck?

1. They needed a "name," and Affleck is a name-above-the-title guy.
2. They needed someone old enough to have been Batman for a while, and Affleck just turned 41. Bale was 30 when he was originally cast as Bruce Wayne (making him 39 now).
3. He wasn't their first choice.

I don't think he's going to be terrible.  The slams for the Gigli/Surviving Christmas section of his career don't factor in as much when you look at his last 5-6 years of work.  I think he'll be good at the Bruce Wayne stuff. There's something serendipitous about Affleck, who once played George Reeves, now appearing in a Superman movie, even if it's as Batman.

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