There are few resurrection stories as fantastical and unbelievable as Ben Affleck’s reemergence as a Hollywood force, sans Jesus of course. Granted, not even Jesus could miraculously recover from Gigli. Over the course of six years, Ben Affleck has gone from Matt Damon’s crotch leech to Hollywood royalty. Initially seen as a talentless hack, Affleck slipped into the shadows once the title of “leading man” became a burden too large to bear. After a shocking, impressive turn as George Reeves in the under appreciated Hollywoodland in 2006, Affleck started chipping away at the mountain of shit piled at his door. But even when he delivered a great performance, it was still fashionable to compare him to excrement.
Likely due to the backlash he generated as a leading man, Affleck convinced himself that going behind the camera was his best option for creative expression. Enter in Gone Baby Gone, his directorial debut, a terse potboiler that found Affleck effectively guiding us through the land of clam chowda and moral deviance by way of an involving kidnapping angle. Knowing Affleck’s career and reputation at that time, Gone Baby Gone is the equivalent of a cinematic double take. Ever since its release, I’ve been on the Affleck redemption train, enjoying every single stop along the way. Invariably, with a checkered film past and Batman being a heavily protected character in the comic book community, it’s not a surprise the casting of Affleck has the blood of zealous fans boiling. Let’s simmer down a bit and put the pitchforks away, and actually look at what aspects of the casting we should and shouldn’t care about before we sick the entire internet on Affleck and Warner Bros:
Shouldn’t Care About:
Affleck’s acting past: Affleck’s acting will be under heavy scrutiny mostly because of two films from over a decade ago. Gigli is dead and gone, and so is Daredevil. Let them exist at the bottom of a Wal-Mart’s $2 DVD bin and let’s actually reflect on Affleck’s renaissance over the last seven years. If you’ve seen The Town and Argo, films that found Affleck delivering magnetic, charismatic performances, it’s easy to see why he is donning the cape of Gotham’s hero. He has the physical build , as well as the knack for delivering complex, brooding hero types. Remember when people were freaking out about Heath Ledger , the “Gay Cowboy”, taking on a character Jack Nicholson helped make even more iconic? I think that worked out pretty well, don’t you? Trust the casting until we actually see the film.
Character turnover: I can see it already, people voicing their displeasure over Warner Bros. essentially rebooting the character three years after Christopher Nolan’s vision ended. Here’s a simple reason why it’s happening: supply and demand. Warner Bros is pretty smart. They know the public can’t wait to consume a summer blockbuster, especially one featuring a character deeply entrenched in the fabric of pop culture, so it’s a pretty shrewd move by them to utilize a property that has done nothing but fill their wallets with cash.
Nolan’s vision: Ever since the release of The Dark Knight Rises, I’ve seen people depressingly wish a continuation of Nolan’s universe . Listen, I love Christopher Nolan’s take on the Batman character as much as anyone else, but can we please refrain from limiting the potential exciting possibilities a new director could offer to us and the character by wishing it was something we already have? Besides, adding an addendum to Nolan’s trilogy would beget his vision entirely.
Should Care About:
Affleck isn’t stealing the directing chair from Zack Snyder: Now this is something people should be pissed off about. Or at least people like me who dislike Snyder’s tendencies. As he demonstrated with his three directorial efforts, Affleck knows how to deliver taut, propulsive films that wonderfully puts us shoulder to shoulder with the characters. Snyder, despite some fine moments in Man of Steel and Watchmen, is more interested in slow motion punches and disengaging action set pieces that are tedious. Who knows, maybe this piece of casting is Warner Bros. way of enticing Affleck into directing the Justice League film.
Time constraints on Affleck the director: I don’t know about you guys, but I like Affleck the director a lot. By saddling up for this film, as well as a collection of likely sequels, I seriously wonder how this will affect Affleck’s growth as a director. Considering the time he will likely spend as the caped crusader, I fear the output we receive from him may be limited or even diluted. But he could also go the way of Christopher Nolan. You know, help Warner Bros. deliver a worthwhile Batman and then they’ll cut a blank check for his future cinematic endeavors.
This will further saturate the market with comic book films: Warner Bros., with their DC license in tow, is now ready to go toe to toe with Marvel’s mass production of superhero films. Inevitably, Warner Bros. will create their team up film, then put out individual comic book hero films each year until audiences are ready to gorge on another superhero team up film, all while Marvel does the same thing. Rinse, lather, repeat. Superheroes are now prepared to control our summers for the next decade.
How will this even work?: This is more out of ignorance for me, but I guess I don’t see how an invincible being like Superman can reasonably go toe to toe with a rich detective in a costume like Batman. Moreover, what can these two disparate characters offer one another? If anyone out there has intimate knowledge as to how these two characters work in the same universe, let me know. Also, I imagine I should probably just wait for a plot synopsis to come out before I question the premise, right?
No matter how we dissect this casting and its ramifications, I think there’s one thing we can all agree upon: We’re going to watch it anyways.