Take a deep breath. Let’s all approach this in a calm, open-minded manner. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. As the following sentence is liable to rouse feelings of extreme disdain and condemnation amongst many film fans…
Ben Affleck will play the next Batman.
What ever is next, you cry! Brian Blessed as Commissioner Gordon? Keith Chegwin as Alfred?
A tad over dramatic? Tell that to the 70,000 signees, and counting, of an online petition on Change.org calling for the budding director to back away from the Bat.
We’ve enjoyed a bumper few years now of being treated like mature adults at the cinema. Cheap one liners and fluffy fight scenes have been replaced with an altogether darker, more sinister approach that aims to explore the mentality behind some of film’s most prolific characters. These broody characters have embedded themselves in recent years into the psyche of your average cinema goer.
On the whole, we have lapped it up. Bond isn’t just a dashing secret agent with a license to kill – he’s a tortured soul with some serious mummy issues when it comes to his boss. Likewise, Bruce Wayne is no longer a millionare playboy with an extracurricular interest in dishing out fistfuls of justice to gangs of clowns but a complex bag of competing emotions bordering on what any shrink worth their salt would label a highly unstable personality disorder.
Evidently, we cannot be trusted to keep our own emotions in check either, seeing as how many a Batman fan has chosen to throw their toys out the pram following the recent announcement of Affleck’s casting. What’s interesting is the reasoning behind much of these embittered feelings.
In droves, people have flocked to the forums, furiously typing out their rage and their belief that Affleck will somehow diminish the franchise’s credibility built up over the Christopher Nolan trilogy. In other words – one step forward and two steps back for film lovers everywhere.
It’s not yet clear what direction Affleck intends to take with the Caped Crusader – although judging by the comments of some, the fear is he will undoubtedly be prancing around in what amounts to a fancy dress costume to the tune of the the 1960’s TV show. As unlikely a scenario as this is, what should it matter, really, were it to be the case?
The release of Spielberg’s E.T. three years after Alien didn’t prompt the fury of thousands of Ridley Scott fans, fists shaking and adamant that aliens should only be the acid-spewing stuff of children’s nightmares.
Likewise, why should Nolan, Bale et al be the only ones to have a crack at this whip? Characters such as Bond and Batman are imbued with the tradition of letting someone have a go once the role has lost its appeal (or if the paycheck doesn’t contain enough zeros as the rumour mill would have us believe with regards to Bale turning down a fourth turn as the Bat). And come on, let’s be reasonable here – it’s not Adam Sandler taking on the role.
Affleck has won some serious thespian brownie points of late, not to mention an Oscar, for his brilliant portrayal of the American hostage crisis in Tehran 1980 (Argo, 2012) in which he also starred. His role as real life CIA operative Tony Mendez was played to perfection – brow furled and always centre stage whilst never hogging the limelight away from the film’s central story.
Affleck, regardless of the naysayers, is an actor/director who understands the overall message of a film or brand is always bigger than its top billed star.
Yes, we all remember when he was going out with Jennifer Lopez and wore red lipgloss to some film premiere but let’s put this into perspective fellow film fans! You’re all going to feel a bit silly when he does what is most likely to be anywhere from a decent to pretty good job. Mr. Affleck is moving on. Perhaps we all should follow his example and let someone else have their turn in the Bat Cave.
Funnily enough, it was the late Heath Ledger in the second of Nolan’s Batman saga that can sum this pointless campaign up best with a simple question. To the 70,000, and counting, out there – why so serious?