Mourning the Loss of Batman

Only two years and counting! (Warner Bros)

Only two years and counting! (Warner Bros)

After the brilliance of The Dark Knight—especially the genius of Heath Ledger as the Joker—and the excitement of The Dark Knight Rises, director Christopher Nolan and Bruce Wayne himself, Christian Bale, announced they would not return for a fourth installment in the popular franchise. Fortunately, I heard that Warner Brothers wants to keep Batman alive, but filling these vital roles continues to be a challenge. And who knows when we will finally see the Caped Crusader on the Big Screen again… if ever.

Initially, I was crushed at the prospect of having to wait indefinitely for films featuring my favorite comic book hero. Then the rumors started to fly about who would step up to play the next lead. Would Joseph Gordon-Levitt take the helm after his performance as honest cop John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises? Will it fall to an actor like Ryan Gosling, Joe Manganiello or Josh Brolin? Can Christian Bale be convinced to return if the price is right?

Frankly, I was getting weary and stopped thinking about the next potential Batman film altogether. And I would have been fine if the people at Warner Brothers hadn’t dropped a bomb on Batman lovers everywhere this past week. At first, it was the equivalent of winding up and kicking comic book fans square in the nuts. I am happy to report, however, that this effect dulls significantly with time. Here’s what happened.

Zac Snyder’s Man of Steel was released in June and has already pulled in more than $649 million worldwide, a notable achievement for a film produced for roughly $225 million. It is also noteworthy for re-launching a movie franchise most people thought was re-launched by Bryan Singer in 2006’s Superman Returns.

I think we are all fortunate that franchise never happened. It wasn’t a very good film. And even though I haven’t seen Man of Steel for myself yet—the closest theater pretty much sucks and I prefer to save my $50 for more important things, like electricity and food—it is breaking records and entertaining millions of people, so I certainly look forward to screening it soon.

Then this past Thursday and the shocking announcement from Warner Brothers came, which reminded me of someone asking, “So which do you want first: the good news or the bad news?” In this case, the good news is that a sequel is being made for Man of Steel and its Kryptonian hero. Superman—as imagined by British actor Henry Cavill and the aforementioned Snyder—will be back in theaters soon… and he won’t be alone.

Batman will be there, too! Woohoo!

Can Affleck handle a comic book hero like Batman? (Warner Bros)

Can Affleck handle a comic book hero like Batman? (Warner Bros)

For the first time in film history, the two superheroes will meet onscreen. They will even face off against one another, much as they did in the classic Frank Miller graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns. Even actors Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane and Amy Adams signed on to return. In other words, it seemed like the perfect sequel and left me with only one nagging question: Who was going to play Batman?

Oh, how I would come to regret asking that question.

If only for the next Superman film—there is no guarantee he will headline the Batman franchise later—it looks like the person wearing the pointy-eared mantle will be… drum roll, please… Benjamin Geza Affleck!

That’s right… Ben Affleck will serve as the next Dark Knight and, if things go well, may even get a shot at the recurring gig. I don’t really see that happening—and thousands, maybe even millions of people online seem to agree—but it is not outside the realm of possibility. After all, some jackass cast him in Daredevil back in 2003, and that horrible hero performance is what many haters seem to be citing as the foundation of their anger over Warner Brothers’ recent decision.

Are we really allowing Ben to screw up another of our comic book heroes? Sadly, it appears the answer is yes.

Then I started to think about it. You know, Ben Affleck isn’t as terrible as people make him out to be. Yes, movies like Daredevil, Gigli and Jersey Girl cast doubt over his acting ability—or maybe his deductive reasoning skills since he’s the one who agreed to star in these flops. But there have been some high points, and I say we give him a chance.

Some reactions were worse than others (The TV and Movie Spot/Twitter)

Some reactions were worse than others (The TV and Movie Spot/Twitter)

I first saw Ben Affleck in School Ties—thinking nothing of him since his role was so small—and again in Chasing Amy, a Kevin Smith-View Askew production I thoroughly enjoyed. Ben did a pretty decent job, I must say. I also liked him in Good Will Hunting—for which he and partner Matt Damon won a screenwriting Oscar—as well as other films some might consider cheesy: Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, The Sum of All Fears, Paycheck and Hollywoodland—a film in which Ben played George Reeves, the actor best known for portraying Superman in the 1950s television series the Adventures of Superman.

Funny how everything comes around full circle, isn’t it?

I won’t lie. Ben Affleck wouldn’t be my first choice for the next Batman, even though I have enjoyed much of his work. He also seems like a pretty decent guy and has done some things in his personal life that I respect: volunteering to spend time with disabled children; supporting Democratic political candidates, at least those worth supporting; bringing attention to the plight of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and contributing to cancer research at Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, to name a few.

Even other actors tweeted in response (Richard Dreyfuss/Twitter)

Even other actors tweeted in response (Richard Dreyfuss/Twitter)

Ben also took home the Oscar for Best Picture last year for Argo, so it’s not like his career is declining, either.

I say give Ben a chance to prove to us all—and by us I mean die-hard Batman lovers who question Warner Brothers’ logic and decision-making abilities—that he can pick up where Christian Bale left off and fill the large boots he left behind. I have my doubts, as I said, but at this point, I feel that Ben deserves it. And I, for one, hope he can pull it off.

Posted on August 24, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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