Sunday, September 01, 2013

The Ben Affleck / Bruce Wayne Controversy

The news has recently hit that there would be a sequel to this summer's Man of Steel, at last confirming the rampant speculation that DC Comics/Warner Brothers will finally catch up to Marvel Comics/Marvel Productions and get a shared continuity started up. There has been implied shared continuity before (Batman Forever*, Superman Returns**), but this will be the first ever actual cross-over for properties of Marvel's Distinguished competition.

The more recent, more shocking news is that Ben Affleck has been cast as Bruce Wayne for the picture. Affleck, whose previous superhero effort has met with general loathing (Daredevil), was originally sought to direct the rumored Justice League movie, which would serve as a hub for all of DC's various properties to meet on the big screen. Affleck stated that he only directs movies in which he is also acting, so Warner Bros. said "No problem, how's Batman for you?"

Affleck was panned for his efforts in Kevin Smith's Daredevil, a movie which had a number of things going against it. There are those who know me and know my leanings who expected me to be apoplectic about this news. I hate to disappoint, but I am actually okay with this development. Here's why:

1. Affleck has shown he is a very capable director, and he's the man they want for the Justice League. Three movies in five years, all receiving critical acclaim. He can totally do that part of it, and I for one think he could bring this thing to fruition smartly, so long as the script is intelligently done. Look at it this way: it couldn't be any worse than Brett Ratner's efforts on X-Men: The Last Stand, and it will certainly have more action than Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. And hey, you guys, it gets the Justice League to the big screen!

2. We all know (well, I do, but you should all open your eyes and see what I do) that nine times out of ten, it's not about how you play the super-hero, it's about how you play the alter ego. Eric Bana was a terrible Bruce Banner. My hatred of Val Kilmer's Bruce Wayne is legendary. Ben Affleck was horrific as Matt Murdock (uh, yeah, but trust me, I'm about to explain). It's not about the guy in the rubber suit. Val Kilmer's Batman was the same as Michael Keaton's Batman. The problem with Kilmer is that he couldn't turn off the Batman for his scenes as Bruce Wayne (the problem with George Clooney is he couldn't turn off the George Clooney for either half of the role).

Christopher Reeves was amazing as Superman because you believed his bumbling Clark Kent. Robert Downey Jr., IS Iron Man, because he became Tony Stark. Mark Ruffalo shocked the world with his Bruce banner and became a stand-out of an all-star cast. Chris Evans was miscast as Captain America only because he should never ever play another role unless it's Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four (the highlight of a terrible cast).

Bruce Wayne is not that tough to play. A millionaire playboy with not a care in the world in some pretty sharp business acumen. Affleck actually has to just act like he's acting like that.

Nine times out of ten. The other one of ten is Thor. Just be Thor.

3. The other half of this role is Batman, and all he has to do is bring the same intensity and intelligence he brought to the role of Tony Mendez in Argo and he's already there. He can do the physical stuff (Daredevil) and at the very least, he won't go full-Bale on the Bat-voice (God help us all, that was some awful shit by the end of the trilogy). I'd prefer his Daredevil Afflecktations to Christian Bale's unintelligible screaming.

Think about what's happening here, people: The Superman/Batman movie (which will be sub-titled "World's Finest"; you heard it here first) isn't going to be a fist fight between the two; at worst, we'll see a tense showdown with Batman trying to come up with the perfect gadget to overcome Superman's powers, and at best, we're going to see a team up of the two facing a foe that Superman can't out-think and Batman can't out-punch (I'm calling Brainiac; again, YHIHF). We'll see Batman utilizing Superman like a bludgeon to set up the perfect battle plan and leave us with our collective jaws dropped.

It'll be fine, gang. All it really needs to do is set up the Justice League movie, and even Affleck can't fuck that one up.

*Val Kilmer's Bruce Wayne mentions that Dick Grayson's circus "must be half way to Metropolis by now."
**A news anchor in Superman Returns mentions Superman helping out in Gotham City.