News broke earlier tonight that Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman in the forthcoming Man of Steel sequel, set for release on July 17, 2015. And collectively social media have got together to absolutely freak out. "Daredevil!" People are screaming. "Gigli!"
They shouldn't. It's been ages since Affleck made movies like that, for starters, and they were always the outliers. Affleck is unlikely to ever win an Academy Award for his acting, but that moment in time when he seemed to be EVERYWHERE tainted his reputation and turned a lot of people against him in a way that's totally disconected from the films he actually makes.
Why do we think the casting of Ben Affleck isn't such a bad thing? Read on...
Zack Snyder is good at drawing out a performance
You think he's an odd choice for Batman? Understandable. What did you think of the Watchmen cast?
With the possible exception of Malin Akerman's cardboard performance, whatever problems that film had (and I think they're overstated) certainly didn't come from the performances, and Snyder got some work out of a couple of those guys that they've never approached anywhere else.
The dude legitimately likes comics.
He's been Daredevil (granted, nobody much liked it). He's been George Reeves, the man who played Superman, in Hollywoodland. He's played a comic book artist himself, in Chasing Amy. And he's managed to hold his own in conversations about comics not only with Kevin Smith, but around the time of the Daredevil release.
There are plenty of actors out there right now looking to appear in a comic book movie because it's a great payday and they're hot at the moment, but who have little or no respect for the source material. Affleck doesn't seem to be one of them.
He's apparently in the loop in terms of what Warner Bros. wants to do next.
Ben Affleck was rumored to be in the running to direct Justice League, back when that script was a thing that existed. In fact, rumor had it he was going to actually play Batman in that film since more and more he's only interested in starring in films that he directs or falls in love with the script.
At any rate, that suggests that he's been in the loop for a while now. He's got a sense of the direction they're planning to take this and, one assumes, is on board with it. That means a couple of things: That an Oscar-winning screenwriter is on board with the direction they're taking DC's cinematic universe, and that he's likely committed for a number of films, a la the Marvel stars.
His career philosophy has changed for the better.
Affleck learned exactly the lesson you would hope that he would have after Daredevil, Gigli, Jersey Girl and Paycheck came in rapid succession: that if you do movies just for the payday, or because you don't know how to tell somebody no, it's going to hurt your career in the long term. His last several films as both an actor and director have been award-caliber, and he's coming off a huge Oscar win that more or less guarantees he had his pick of big-money projects.
If he chose this one, logic dictates there's something about it that appeals to him, and for any number of reasons it's probably not just the (admittedly probably massive) paycheck.
He'll be a great Bruce Wayne
I don't know that Affleck has the gravelly voice thing as a go-to move, so it's likely his Batman will be a bit less...intense...than was Christian Bale's. Depending on how he's played, that might not be a bad thing, especially if Superman is going to lighten up a bit now that he's figured out his life's work.
In any event, Affleck would make a great Bruce Wayne. He's got just that right mix of being likable and aloof, but being able to turn on the cold, dead eyes and a sense of bad-ass when he needs to.
And he won't tolerate anybody loitering around in his mall.
And last, but not least...
Daredevil wasn't his fault.
Okay, so Affleck's performance in Daredevil wasn't his best work. It was, however, a solid performance marred by a few really bad scenes which have been replayed over and over again because the film itself was such a mess that it's fun and easy to pick on.
The Director's Cut of that movie is actually an alright film. It probably still would have had a bad reputation since superhero movies are generally perceived as either absolute genius or absolute trash with little room for anything else in our discourse--but when you watch the thing, it's genuinely not too bad. It seems clear that the thing that took it from being an alright action movie to a disaster was studio meddling, none of which Affleck or director Mark Steven Johnson could have controlled.