Ben Affleck: The Hero We Deserve
By E.M. Wollof from SLN More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the The Blog Cosmic Blog Series
Let me first say that this entry is not an attempt to address the "Affleck as Batman" naysayers who are currently signing every Internet petition they can get their virtual, prepubescent hands on. This entry is for fans of the Batman universe in its entirety. This is for those who were not totally convinced by Christian Bale but understood the importance of Nolan's effort to ground Batman in a gritty, real universe. This is for those who understand that a Batman vs. Superman film spells the birth of a united DC universe. Let the little children play at being fans, we shall talk on how Ben Affleck may just be the Batman we have been waiting for since Adam West donned the cape and cowl in the 60's.
Born of a Broken Man
Batman is an incredibly deep and complex character. There exists a dichotomy layered deeply within him that must be written/performed perfectly in order to be fully embraced. Bruce Wayne is the primary personality of this character (though he may not be the one that we see, and whether or not he is the one we are truly interested in is another matter entirely). We only really begin to see Batman once Bruce is in his twenties, and after Bruce has done some serious time is dark circles while training to become an anti-hero. The moniker of Batman is merely an addition to protect Bruce and strike fear in those whom he may face. Bruce Wayne is the very basis of Batman and this fact has been buried deeply behind the ever-popular brooding portrayal of the anti-hero.
I am not going to attempt to convince you that Batman and Bruce should be all smiles and campy handshakes (though they may have begun as such), but there is a depth to Bats that recent iterations never quite reached. Bruce is more than just a facade for Batman, he is a vital piece of the detective puzzle as Batman can only come out at night. This means that Bruce needs to show the same heroic composition as his alter ego, but in a much more socially acceptable way.
In order to do this in a live-action realm you need an actor that understands what it means to be humbled by failure/tragedy and slowly build oneself back to the top of the proverbial heap. I would argue that there are not many modern professionals in Hollywood that understand this effort better than Ben Affleck. Not only is the man a fully recovered alcoholic, but he has scrambled from the bottom of the acting barrel to become, arguably, one of the best actor/director/writers of our time. He is a philanthropist of the highest degree, a well-traveled humanitarian, a budding politician, and an incredibly well-spoken, intelligent human being.
Affleck understands what it is to fail time and again and still get back on the horse. He has the chops to be an "every man" and the intellect to talk circles around the same. In short, he knows Bruce Wayne intimately.
This leads us to the idea that Affleck may not be able to portray Wayne's vengeful alter ego.
The World's Greatest Detective
I understand how difficult it is to erase the Gigli-era Ben Affleck from your conscious mind, but we are going to have to try in order to embrace this man as the new Dark Knight.
Ben Affleck has written, directed, and acted the role of hero exceptionally well throughout his career. One needs look no further than Good Will Hunting to see that Matt Damon and Affleck showed an intimate knowledge of what it means to be brilliant and broken in the creation of this excellent film's protagonist. Brilliant and broken. Sound familiar? Say what you will about Batman, but he is an inherently flawed character that battles incredible amounts of anger in order to maintain his status as the defender of Gotham. At any given point in time, Batman is perilously close to falling completely into his darker urges.
We have all seen what it looks like when Affleck does that, haven't we? Think Dogma, good people. Think of Affleck obliterating thousands of innocent citizens and raining their blood down upon the streets. Affleck knows how to tap into his dark side. He knows how to dominate.
How about the role of detective/brilliant tactician? Let us reference his role as Jack Ryan in The Sum of all Fears. Let's look at him as Jennings in Paycheck. How about Tony Mendez in the award-winning Argo (directed and starred in by Affleck). Affleck knows what it is to not only play but create the role of intelligent hero. He knows it extremely well.
And yes, I recognize that Affleck has already tried his hand at a comic book movie. But we must ask ourselves, was Daredevil bad because of Affleck? Or, was it just not that great of a film? It is rather easy for us to look down upon the film now, living in the era of successful comic movies that we do. 2003 was a long time ago in terms of the genre, and very little had been established as far as guidelines for a "good" comic book movie were concerned.
Three positive attributes from Affleck's performance in Daredevil speak to him becoming a great Batman:
1.) Duality - While Daredevil may sport a wretched script, Affleck was the only actor capable enough to make the film watchable. His grasp on the duality between Matt Murdock and Daredevil shows an innate understanding of what it takes to differentiate between the hero and the "real-world" personality.
2.) The Look - Daredevil may sport a hideous costume throughout the film, but Affleck still looks heroic in it. This was my first concern at hearing he would be in the next Batman as he has never been that large a man. But, after watching Daredevil again (I know, it hurt me as well), and seeing how well he sported that nasty get up, I have not doubt the cape and cowl will look excellent on him. Plus, the man's chin and jawline are perfect for the role. Even the staunchest of detractors must admit that.
3.) Physicality - Affleck pulls off some impressive moves in Daredevil but that was 10 years ago. That being said, there is very little about an actor that can not be sculpted and trained by the legion of stunt and combat gurus Hollywood commands. After seeing Man of Steel, I have no doubt Snyder and crew will have Affleck in top shape and ready to kick Supe's spangly behind.
As comic book readers, we understand what it is to deal with numerous artistic renderings of our favorite characters. Sure, we all have our favorite story arcs and illustrations, but the mind-blowing variety of the comic world holds much allure for us.
Personally, I am extremely excited to have Ben Affleck, a professional with exceptional pedigree, donning the cape and cowl in 2015. I look forward to seeing him lay the foundation of the larger DC universe across numerous films and silencing the short-sighted children of the Internet.