For a little while, it seemed that people on the Internet had stopped talking about Ben Affleck being cast as Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. Then he went on Jimmy Kimmel yesterday and talked about the reaction. Once again, there are blog posts about “Batfleck,” which I’m fully aware I’m adding to right now.
I wasn’t particularly impressed or disappointed when the casting was announced last month. He’s a solid enough choice, especially if they’re going with a grizzled take on the character. Personally, I’d have gone with a younger Batman as a contrast to Christian Bale‘s version of the character. Man of Steel didn’t seem to be set in a world in which a vigilante had been beating up bad guys in Gotham City for several years, and it would have been interesting to see a version of the Dark Knight starting out in a world with Superman and Zod. DC and Warner Brothers chose to go in a different direction, and if they hadn’t cast Affleck, it would have been some other guy in his late 30s/early 40s to fit a more experienced version of the character. If they’re sticking with that mold, Affleck’s fine.
It’s going to be a bit weird for Zack Snyder to boss around a guy who is a much better director. He probably thought he was done with that after working with Kevin Costner, although I will also say that Argo is probably the worst Best Picture winner in some time. It’s not a particularly bad film, but other recent winners have been much better — even other films that beat out superior movies (i.e., The King’s Speech with The Social Network, The Artist with Hugo and Crash with Munich). Ben Affleck will certainly be a passable Bruce Wayne. He should be quite believable as a smug, handsome rich guy.
There are some questions about why the response to the casting had been so strong. Affleck’s work as an actor hasn’t been that bad, although it’s likely that many of the people on the Internet haven’t seen his recent acclaimed films, which may have been successful but had box office totals a fraction of that of typical superhero films . To these guys, Affleck’s the man who did a bunch of lame movies that sometimes play on cable. He had been a superhero before in Daredevil, which isn’t remembered all that fondly. Honestly, that movie’s unfairly maligned. The Director’s Cut isn’t that bad. It’s not up there with the Marvel Studios films, but it’s certainly better than a lot of Fox‘s other Marvel stuff.
More people are going to see Batman vs. Superman, or whatever it ends up being called, than most of the more serious films. Comic fans are unusually ardent, plus Bale’s Batman has just been in an immensely successful trilogy. Moviegoers also generally aren’t as passionate about casting choices in the so-called serious films, since in many cases the source material isn’t as familiar. No one’s really bothered that Steve Carell doesn’t look like the guy he’s playing in Foxcatcher.
The ambivalence to Affleck likely isn’t based on how he looks. I think it comes down to the voice. He doesn’t sound like a superhero, or at least this particular superhero. He’s not Kevin Conroy.
This may also be why the rumors of Brian Cranston as Lex Luthor were better received. He sounds like a super villain as this fan trailer shows, although I doubt anyone would have been as eager to see him in this film if he was just known as the dad from Malcolm in the Middle.
My guess is that the mistrust to Affleck as Batman will come to an end when they do the inevitable trailer and he nails the Batman voice. Say what you will about Zack Snyder, but his trailers are usually quite excellent. When the guy who looks like Batman sounds like him, comic book fans will pretend that they always thought it was great casting.