Well, the Internet erupted a couple weeks ago when it was announced that Ben Affleck would play Batman in the sequel to Zack Snyder’s MAN OF STEEL. Now that the dust has settled a bit and our emotions are not so tense, let’s discuss this like mature adults.
First, I’d like to make known that I have not seen MAN OF STEEL nor do I intend to (thanks D. Beth for the engaging review). I have seen enough of Snyder’s work to have no appreciation for it. His style is glitzy and over the top with not a lot of substance. Snyder is like a bad Pinterest project where everything looks nice, but it’s all completely pointless. I won’t inundate you with a longwinded rant about how he ruined a truly classic & flawless film, DAWN OF THE DEAD; or how WATCHMEN was less than watchable. Feel free to disagree, but for me Snyder exists in the same category as Brett Ratner and Uwe Boll.
The other huge turn off for me regarding MAN OF STEEL is all the religious themes that exist within the script. Writer, David S. Goyer has openly discussed the intentional parallels between Superman and Christ even so far as referencing the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament. Personally, I like god and religion left out of my comic books. You can save that shit for The Da Vinci Code because I will have no part of it.
Back to the subjects at hand, which are Batman and Ben Affleck. Ben Affleck is without a doubt incredibly talented. I would argue that his writing and directing are far superior to his acting, but I digress. Affleck has come a long way from his days in ARMAGEDDON and REINDEER GAMES. He built a respectable reputation in Hollywood and even picked up another Oscar along the way. This entire Batman uproar just goes to show that after all that hard work, you can still be reduced to, “the guy from GILGI.”
I’ll be the first to admit that comic book fans are rabid and unforgivingly harsh at times. I know I am! You must understand how important these characters are to people. They are apart of people’s lives and within that exists a history unlike any other. It’s not uncommon to get emotionally invested in a series after following it for several years or even decades. The fans only want to see their beloved character portrayed as best as possible. I understand that this leaves expectations that might be too high, but that’s just the curl of the burl.
As much respect for Affleck as I have, I think he is totally wrong for Batman. I don’t think he has the complexity and strength that this character needs. Anyone can train relentlessly for nine months to bulk up for a role, but not everyone can portray such a psychologically intricate role. Affleck has perfected the “ordinary guy from a working class neighborhood in Boston” act. It’s not even an act, it’s just who he is. What he’s not is the brooding Bruce Wayne with wavering emotions who’s lived a life of privilege. Also, there should be a rule against playing Daredevil and Batman in the same lifetime.
I really wish Hollywood would pay a little more attention to fans and what they want out of these films. Let’s be honest, the fans can make or break you. I was worshipping Joss Whedon long ago, but his success with THE AVENGERS has catapulted him into another universe (no pun intended). On the other hand look how panned films like GHOSTRIDER and THE FANTASTIC FOUR became. Many fans petitioned to have Nathan Fillion portray the Green Lantern, but Hollywood went with Ryan Reynolds. Look how that turned out for them.
Anyhow, I have made of list of actors I think could make a great Batman with the right direction. This list is in ascending order and is subject to change. Feel free to make your own suggestions.
Let’s face it; Angel invented the dark brooding role. I recently thought about the striking similarities between Angel and Batman. Both are primarily nocturnal, lonely, and conflicted. They both are champions of those in need of saving. My only issue with Angel is that he might be slightly older than the ideal Batman. After contemplating this role choice, I came to find out that Angel was in fact up for the role of Batman in the Christopher Nolan trilogy. It makes me wonder how different those films would have been without Christian Bale.
We’ve already seen Lincoln hold his own on The Walking Dead. Granted Lincoln is a choice totally out of left field, but he could really make it work. He’s a great actor who’s got the charisma for Bruce Wayne. Honestly, I had no idea Lincoln was British until I saw an interview with him about The Walking Dead. His Georgian accent is so spot on I’m sure he could handle the Batman rasp a little better than Christian Bale. Plus, this MAN OF STEEL sequel could use a Ricktatorship!
This is the most self serving pick on my list. I just think ASKARS is unbelievably handsome and would love nothing more than to see him don the cowl. I could definitely see ASKARS in the billionaire playboy role, but as the actual dark knight, I’m not so sure. I’ve never seen True Blood so I can’t fully gauge his acting prowess. I did enjoy his minor role in MELANCHOLIA. Again, this is a personal fantasy not really based on logic.
Barta is an actor who often flies under the radar. I’ve only seen him in small indie roles, but he has a striking presence that lingers. He may be a little young to be Bruce Wayne, but that could be up for debate. I think Barta needs a really good project to sink his teeth into because he can be a really great leading actor. My only real complaint about Justin Barta is that at 5’8” he’s a little shorter than the ideal Batman.
Honestly, I haven’t seen many films starring Urban, but I really enjoyed him in DREDD. I think he’s set to carve his name in the sci-fi fan base with roles in STAR TREK and LORD OF THE RINGS. I feel like Urban can bring some clout to this role. He’s the type of actor who was born to play a superhero.
I became familiar with Stan after his role as Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier. Before we quibble over actors who’ve played superheroes in other films, let’s remember that Chris Evans was also the Human Torch AND Johnny Storm prior to donning his red & blues. I think Stan can bring a certain sex appeal and intrigue that Batman needs. He’s a good sidekick to Cap, but I’d like to see him as the dark knight.
Wes Bentley is not usually an actor you would consider in an action role. I don’t think he’s really had an opportunity to exercise his versatility. Let’s remember that Michael Keaton was primarily a comedic actor prior to becoming the greatest Batman we have thus far known. Bentley nearly fell off the radar until his recent role in THE HUNGER GAMES. His role as Seneca Crane is what led me to believe he could be a great Batman. I think he has the bravado and duality that is the essence of Batman. Isn’t it time we began to look at unconventional actors to fill idiosyncratic roles?
There you have it, my picks for a new Batman. In the end, Ben Affleck is still better than George Clooney or Val Kilmer. You know, I would have never chosen Henry Cavill as Superman in the first place. I also recently read that Josh Brolin was considered for the role. I’m certainly conflicted on that choice as I love Brolin’s acting, but I’m not positive he’s Superman material. I really have very little faith in what Snyder can do with this storyline and film. I’m sure the masses will go see it, but I won’t be surprised if this project turns out to be critically panned. Affleck might not be the Batman we need, but maybe he’s the Batman Zack Snyder deserves.