It's been, what? Two or three days since the announcement that Ben Affleck is going to play Batman in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman (World's Finest, to the comic book readers) movie allegedly coming in 2015. I'm going to break my usual form and give my personal take on the manner, considering the fact that I've been a fan of Batman since I was about six years old and I have personally modeled myself after him.
Beyond livid, if we're being honest.
However, I've had enough time to calm down and rationally explain why I believe Ben Affleck is a horrible choice for the Caped Crusader.
First off, I mean no disrespect to him or any of his fans. If you're excited about it, hooray for you. In fact, I don't even think Affleck is that bad an actor. I think he's alright.
But here's the thing: I don't think they chose Affleck because he'd be a good Batman. DC/Warner Bros announced at San Diego Comic Con that the World's Finest movie would be out in 2015. That was last month. So, think about it: they announced the release of a movie almost exactly two years before it would come out...and it's not even in pre-production. Hell, I don't even recall hearing the rumor of there being a script yet. All they had at the time was Zack Snyder and Henry Cavill. Then, at the press release for Bat-Affleck's reveal, they claimed production would start in 2014. That means they are attempting to make a high budget superhero film in less than the standard two years it takes to make a summer blockbuster.
It is my personal opinion that DC/WB panicked. Just...flat out panicked because they're so focused on making money and "competing" with The Avengers/Marvel that they made a hasty, stupid decision. I'm in the geek circuit. I did not hear anything about auditions for the new Batman. NOTHING. I don't even think they bothered looking. They just put the word out and the first big star to say yes (notably, AFTER Christian Bale said no) is who they chose.
This infuriates me to my absolute core.
What DC/WB doesn't seem to understand is two things: (1) why the Avengers is so profitable and (2) that the DC fanboys and fangirls don't want a World's Finest movie if it's rushed and slapped together.
The Avengers became the third highest grossing domestic film in the United States for dozens of reasons--great casting, great directing, a fantastic script, gorgeous effects, and a general sense of fun and camaraderie between the actors, production team, and the fans. But here's the main reason: Marvel actually seems to give a crap about the fans. They listen. They took their time and they picked the actors who fit the characters, and who would do the characters we love justice. Do you know why they could afford to do this? Well, that's part two. Marvel knows that we will wait for it. Marvel understands that fans WANT to see the Avengers represented as awesomely as they appear in the comics, and that they don't need to slap together a title and some actors and shove it out on the silver screen just to make money. Marvel knows that if they make a quality film, we WILL go see it. So they made one. They got one of the best writers/directors around and they did the damn thing, and they didn't care what DC decided to do in retaliation.
Whereas DC sat with its thumb up its ass, snootily believing that the Batman franchise would carry them through the next decade. The Nolan Batman trilogy was nothing short of brilliant, but guess what? That's the only good thing on DC's recent hero track record, until Man of Steel came along. They seemed to not realize this fact until Iron Man 3 came out and kicked the 2013 box office in the face with a big smile. So they panicked and they said to themselves, "Oh my gosh, guys, if we don't do something quick, Avengers II is going to win 2015 and since we literally have not even tried to make films for any other members of the Justice League, we'd better do something about it! Uh, yes, we're totally going to make a Batman/Superman movie a mere three years after the Nolan film! No need to actually take our time like we did with Henry Cavill and narrow down our choices so that we pick someone who looks, sounds like, and can embody one of the greatest comic book heroes of all time. Just slap a mask on anyone with a square chin and we'll be golden!"
I mean it. It is 2013. We have no Flash, no Wonder Woman, no Hawkman, no Martian Manhunter, no Aquaman, no Green Arrow, no Black Canary, and Green Lantern's been in the freaking Phantom Zone because everyone hated the movie so much that they can't decide if that universe even exists anymore. There was no attempt in the Man of Steel movie to create any sense of continuity. Why? Because DC doesn't have faith in its own damn work, and it has even less faith in us fans. That is unacceptable. They believe in the "wait and see" approach, and that is what is killing their brand and their profits. They waited to see how all of the Avengers' solo films would do, and then they waited to see how the Avengers would do, and then they waited to see the response to the Avengers II plot and character reveals, and now all of the sudden they want to act because they want their piece of the pie. No. That is not how you should be treating a franchise and characters that have been beloved since the 1930's.
You hire people who are right for the job. You read the damn comics. You talk to the fans. You listen to the criticism that you have received from your previous films. You sit down and you do your damn homework and you make a great film. It's that damned simple. If you do all of that, THEN you get to make a billion dollars globally. I'm not saying DC needs to copy Marvel's exact methods. They need to understand what Marvel is doing correctly and emulate that if they want any of the other heroes aside from Batman to make money and do well.
Having said all of that, I'll now address my problem with Ben Affleck.
He's not Batman.
Just...he's really not.
Now, this isn't to say all the men who have played Batman in the past via the silver screen have been Batman. However, each of them brought some aspect of Bruce Wayne to the table that you can at least argue is true to the character. For instance, Michael Keaton brought the intensity to Batman, but he was a pretty lousy Bruce. Val Kilmer brought the quiet intelligence and tortured soul of Bruce, but he was a lousy Batman. George Clooney brought the playboy aspect, but he sucked as both Bruce and Batman. Christian Bale perfected Bruce Wayne and played an excellent Batman, but he did miss a few beats here and there with his voice problems.
What in the hell is Ben Affleck going to bring to the table?
That's what made me so angry when I heard the news. I've watched some Affleck films. The guy is a good comedic actor and a decent dramatic actor. But he looks and sounds nothing like any incarnation of Bruce Wayne that I can even try to picture in my head. I'm not talking about physicality alone. I'm talking about presence. Ben Affleck could walk up to me in my room right now and wrap his hands around my neck and threaten me, and honestly? I really don't think I'd be all that intimidated. It's not just the buttchin and the big blue eyes. The way he walks, the way he carries himself, the way I've seen him act in other roles, is why I'm against him as Batman. I simply cannot see him putting on the mask and actually scaring superstitious cowardly lots of criminals.
It is here that I have to bring up a tiring discussion that will no doubt make some fanboys hate me: Daredevil.
I hated that movie.
Granted, not with a passion. More like disdain. I just thought it was badly written, poorly shot, dreadfully cast (with the exception of Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin, rest in peace, sir), and all around awful. And I know all the little fanboys and girls insist, "Watch the director's cut! It's much better!" but guess what? They didn't release that version in the theater. You can't undo that. You can't fix all your mistakes after the movie screwed a dead horse. If they wanted to make a better movie, they'd have released a better movie. And honestly, I've never seen the director's cut, but I sincerely doubt it fixed the nine billion problems with that movie anyway. It was just not well done.
My point is that Daredevil is also supposed to be an intimidating comic book hero. He's not as dark as Batman, but he's intense and driven. And I saw Ben Affleck trying to pull that off and he failed miserably. I understand that he was still young in his career, but I truly don't believe that he has the presence to be Batman.
I don't believe that I can see him with his hair slicked back wearing a million dollar suit running a billion dollar corporation. I don't believe that I can see him training with Ra's al Ghul, or Lady Shiva, or Zatara. I don't believe that I can see him out-thinking the Riddler, or flirting with Catwoman, or battling the Joker to save someone's life. I. DON'T. BELIEVE. IT. It's not because he's a bad actor. He's not. It's the character that doesn't fit.
Bruce Wayne is a dichotomy of concepts. He's brooding and hurting, but he's also got this wondrous sly sense of humor. He's constantly insisting that his mission is solo, but he naturally attracts people to him because he has a noble heart and despite all the darkness in him, he loves people. He is a wide spectrum of emotions and beliefs and ideas. He's got a depth to him that has kept him as one of the most popular heroes since his creation in 1939.
And all of that I am supposed to see in the star of Gigli?
I cannot accept that.
So, there you have it. If that makes me a close-minded, awful person, then so be it. I'm keeping my $10.50 in my pocket where it belongs. I hope the movie doesn't suck. I hope that people who want to see Bat-Affleck enjoy it.
I will just not be one of them.