The Dark Knight and The Dark Horse

Emma McCarthy discusses Ben Affleck’s impending incarnation of Batman.

This summer, comic book and movie fans were eager to hear one bit of information: who would be cast as the new Batman in the Batman VS Superman sequel to Man of Steel. Names were thrown around like there was no tomorrow, with rumours getting bigger and bigger by the day. First, we heard that Christian Bale had been offered fifty million dollars to don his scowl again, while the next day, there was speculation that none other than Orlando Bloom was being scouted for the role. It wasn’t too long before the actor chosen was revealed and as it turned out, everyone had been waiting for a name that most would rather not have heard. The man who would be wearing the cape this time round would be, Ben Affleck.

Not too long ago, people were lauding Ben Affleck for Argo and bemoaning his lack of a Best Director Oscar but attitudes quickly changed when it was revealed that he would be taking on the role of the Caped Crusader. It seemed people much preferred him behind the camera. I can see why – Affleck bombed in the last superhero movie he starred in (2003’s Daredevil) and before his writing and directing career came back into the spotlight, he was mostly known as the leading man in Hollywood’s worst romantic comedies and as the other half of one of the most infamous celebrity couplings of the early 2000s. Ben Affleck is simply better known as Ben Affleck which makes it hard to buy him as characters. Bruce Wayne is a complex role to play, and with Christian Bale giving such a phenomenal turn as the troubled billionaire orphan, fans don’t even want to give Affleck a chance.

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It wasn’t too long before the actor chosen was revealed and as it turned out, everyone had been waiting for a name that most would rather not have heard.

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In my opinion, it’s a little unfair. I do hear people talking in Affleck’s defence as they point out that no one wanted Heath Ledger as the Joker but it’s often met with replies of “Heath Ledger has nothing to do with Ben Affleck.” And that’s true, but it raises an interesting point: if you can’t compare Ledger and Affleck, how can you compare Daredevil and Batman? Just because Affleck didn’t do well with one doesn’t mean he can’t do well as the other. What people need to remember is that Zack Snyder is not trying to recreate Nolan’s Dark Knight; he’s making a new older and more tired Batman. It’s a process we’re all familiar with, Bale wasn’t the first Batman and Affleck won’t be the last. People complained when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman due to his past acting roles, but he pulled it off. Maybe we should give Affleck a chance before blaming him for ruining the character. In all seriousness, if people don’t like Affleck’s portrayal, they’re perfectly free to go back and watch The Dark Knight trilogy again. Batman has seventy-four years behind it, the character cannot be ruined. No one refused to watch Bale’s portrayal because Batman & Robin was so terrible, did they? Do fans refuse to take the character seriously because of Adam West?

Ben Affleck might not be the greatest actor, and this might not be a terrific portrayal of Batman, but let’s face it, Ben Affleck is not the worst actor out there and it might not be the worst Batman. After all, what if they had cast Orlando Bloom?