The Final Word
By Jeff Girod
Ben Affleck will star as Batman in the new Batman/Superman movie, premiering July 2015, according to Variety.
I can name 10 actors I would prefer to see as Batman: John Hamm, Daniel Craig, Timothy Olyphant, Clive Owen, Liev Schrieber, Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Edward Norton, Michael C Hall and Jeremy Renner.
Or better yet, get Christian Bale to play Batman again and let Ben Affleck direct. Affleck has proven to be one hell of a director in recent years with Gone Baby Gone, The Town and a Best Picture Oscar for last year’s Argo.
But there was a solid decade where Affleck’s name was synonymous with box office kryptonite. There was Armageddon and Gigli and Paycheck and Jersey Girl and Pearl Harbor and Surviving Christmas. It got so bad I started claiming “Affleck” movie tickets as an annual loss on my taxes.
Since the announcement, more than 30 petitions have been created to stop Affleck from donning the black cape, bat suit and utility belt. At least one petition, on change.org and addressed to Warner Bros., has received more than 50,000 signatures.
Twitter has also erupted with hash tags such as #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck and #Batfleck and snarky tweets from fellow celebrities, including this from comedian Patton Oswalt: WOW, @BenAffleck is gonna play Batman. I hope he fights the Joke-ah! #wickedpissah
Someone even submitted a petition to the White House and asked the US government to make it illegal for Affleck to portray Batman—or any other superhero—for the next two centuries.
I guess its better safe than sorry, because the last time Affleck played a superhero it practically set the genre back 200 years. The film (if you can call it that) was 2003’s Daredevil. It received a 45% rating on rottentomatoes.com and was panned by critics everywhere.
Geoff Pevere of the Toronto Star wrote, “Even in February, it feels like the worst movie of the year.” Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post wrote, “Daredevil doesn’t take a single dare.” And the New York Post’s Lou Lumenick called Daredevil “a mind-numbing, would-be comic-book franchise, which often seems as blind as its hero—not to mention deaf and dumb.”
It probably doesn’t help his cause that Ben Affleck has skin like “buttah,” a beauty mark like Marilyn and a chin like Dudley Do Right, or that he once dated Jennifer Lopez and was referred to as “Bennifer”
If Ben Affleck looked like Steve Buscemi or Christopher Walken, nobody would care what roles he chose. We would call him a “character actor” and we would applaud Hollywood’s “bold, smart choice” for Batman. But Ben Affleck is Hollywood handsome and, in a tuxedo, he looks exactly like the groom on top of a wedding cake.
So we want Ben to seem conflicted. We want Ben to strive for art instead of snatching the easy paycheck and we want Ben to date and marry a woman like Jennifer Garner instead of J-Lo. We also want Ben to act like he has no idea how rich, dreamy and privileged he is even when, c’mon, we know he knows we all know.
Superman or Batman, Matt Damon or George Clooney—we like our heroes to be modest, even when it’s a false modesty. NFL quarterback Peyton Manning knows when he’s thrown for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns. But we like that he prefers to focus his postgame interview on the one interception he threw. (It’s probably why Manning leads all NFL players in endorsements.)
And while America’s all about giving second chances, we’re a little stingier with thirds. And nothing messes with karma, both personally and culturally, when a guy like Affleck, who should still be trying to fly under the radar even after winning an Oscar, signs a 30-million contract to put on tights and a cape to soar around Gotham in a Bat-copter.
Ben Affleck wants to wear a mask and a cape? Go do Broadway. Rob a bank. Or wait for Halloween like the rest of us.
Imagine “what would Ben do.” Then do the opposite.
Now that would be super.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org