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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Cinema du Sanity: the Ben Affleck-is-Batman issue

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Cinema du Sanity Aug 28 2013 He's Batman: fan shock as handsome square-jawed actor cast as iconic superhero. Also: Ben Affleck could not possibly care less what you think of him. Special Report: Meet the dedicated researchers who say we are close to a cure for the tragedy of Fan Entitlement Syndrome

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  • Drave

    Am I the only one who doesn’t have a problem with Batfleck? He’s gone a long way towards making up for Daredevil. He deserves another chance.

  • LaSargenta

    They lie. There is no cure for Fan Entitlement Syndrome.

  • RogerBW

    I remember the complaints when George Clooney was cast (just a pretty boy from a soap opera). And Michael Keaton for that matter.

    Haven’t we had enough Batman films for a while, really?

  • I don’t have a problem with him. (He certainly wasn’t what was wrong with Daredevil.) Looking forward to seeing what he does.

  • Bluejay

    Well, I gotta say: My primary concern with a Superman sequel featuring Batman was that the Batman character would completely overshadow the Superman character. Now I’m not so worried anymore. ;-)

    But seriously: I have no problem with Affleck. There are many actors who could do Batman justice, each in their own way, and there’s no reason why Affleck can’t be one of them. I think the problem a lot of fans have is that they’re casting for some Platonic Batman in their mind, and forgetting that the filmmakers have a specific vision and purpose for the character and need to cast the right actor for the film, not for all time. There’s room for an Affleck Batman among all the past and future incarnations of Batman, just as there was room for Henry Cavill’s grim and imperfect Man of Steel among all the past and future incarnations of Superman.

    Also: fans whined when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman, when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, when Anne Hathaway was cast as Catwoman. And outside the Batman franchise: there was much gnashing of teeth when Daniel Craig was tapped for Bond, and when Jennifer Lawrence was picked for Katniss. I believe the consensus today is that they all did fine-to-excellent jobs. Of course there *is* such a thing as being horribly miscast, but I’ve been impressed by too many supposedly miscast actors to prejudge any actor — especially when the movie hasn’t been made yet.

  • Bluejay

    Maybe an occasional personal reminder from creators might help?

  • Danielm80

    There’s a difference, though, from my point of view. People weren’t complaining that those performers were bad actors. Several of them had been nominated for Oscars. The complaint was that they had never played this sort of role before. There was an assumption (an odd one, I thought) that they didn’t have the range to play a different kind of character. The complaint about Ben Affleck is that people have seen him act and didn’t like it.

    I don’t think he’s a bad actor. I just think he’s relentlessly bland. Batman is not bland.

    Ben Affleck is a terrific writer and director. I’ve enjoyed a number of his films. But I enjoyed them in spite of his performances. I’d like to see a Batman with a sense of gravitas and a sense of a complex inner life. I haven’t seen Affleck demonstrate either of those qualities.

    Maybe he’ll surprise me. It’s possible that he has depths as an actor that I’ve never noticed before. It’s also possible that he’ll completely reinvent the character, and give us a new, compelling way to look at Batman. I hope he does. Batman probably needs to be reinvented. But right now, I’d rather see Affleck behind the camera than in front of it.

  • Bluejay

    Maybe you’re right, and he’ll be bad. Or maybe he’ll surprise you, as you said. I just think it’s way too early to tell.

    But right now, I’d rather see Affleck behind the camera than in front of it.

    I’ve read several analyses of Affleck’s casting all claiming that this deal gives him carte blanche at WB to make whatever films he wants. So, you may get your wish.

  • singlestick

    RE: The complaint was that they had never played this sort of role before.

    The gripe against Daniel Craig was that he was blond, and that Bond was not “supposed to be blond.” Ironically, Fleming did not originally envision Bond as a Scottish Sean Connery, but later was so impressed that he ret-conned Bond’s background.

    Affleck was not on my mental list of potential Batmans, and I think his voice is a little too whiny, and his eyes a little too beady. However, I respect him as an actor, and look forward to see how he does.

  • singlestick

    Bite your tongue. You can never have too much Batman.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Why not cast Matt Damon and call it The Wayne Identity? :-)

  • RobertP

    fans whined when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman

    Are you saying you feel Keaton worked as Batman? I like Michael Keaton but I was one of those who thought he was a ludicrous choice for Batman and still do. Short, balding, wrong voice, bereft of muscle tone – utterly non-credible that he could actually pull off any of the physicality.

    I certainly wouldn’t hold Keaton’s Batman up to Ledger’s Joker.

  • Bluejay

    Yes, I’m saying I feel Keaton worked as Batman — for the film that Tim Burton was trying to make, which was more of a dark psychedelic fantasy rather than Nolan’s gritty ultra-realism.

    I also think Burton consciously didn’t want his Batman to be a towering square-jawed muscleman like Superman, but an ordinarily-built guy who becomes Batman through the use of technology and theatrics and psychological terror. And Keaton’s Batman voice started the trend (which, perhaps, you don’t like) of Batman’s voice being gravelly and raspy.

    No, I wouldn’t hold Keaton’s Batman up to Ledger’s Joker — but again, different film, different directors, different visions. For that matter, I wouldn’t hold up Nicholson’s Joker to Ledger’s Joker.

  • RobertP


    I just have a problem with ignoring established, fundamental elements of the story. Batman *is* a buffed up, athletic, physically imposing guy. He would have to be. No matter how much technology he has, it still comes down to his physical abilities. A major part of the Batman story is how he worked obsessively to build himself physically.

    I think the gravelly voice is a good device. Both intimidating and it masks Bruce Wayne’s voice. It’s Keaton’s regular speaking voice I have a problem with. He just doesn’t sound like I would expect Bruce Wayne to sound. He sounds like someone’s cousin Jimmy.

  • RobertP


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