My head exploded last night upon finding out that Mr. Affleck would be playing Batman. This morning, as I stir from my uneasy slumbers, I am picking up the pieces, still.
Let me begin by saying that I actually really like Ben Affleck. He holds that small spot in my heart between Will Ferrell and Mark Ruffalo, and I am quite content to keep him there. While I am sure there are thousands of articles just like this being put up online at this very moment, I still want to weight in. Here it goes...
1. Ben Affleck is not Bruce Wayne.
Let me clarify. I know well that Mr. Affleck is not one and the same with the caped crusader but Batman's most unsupported characteristic thus far in all things motion multimedia is his duality. I just don't think Ben Affleck has the personality of the character. Bruce Wayne as he appears in the DCU has transcended his original identity. He is in a position where the Batman has molded his experiences more than his own. Character's like Batmite substantiate this internal existential conflict of interest. Bruce Wayne effectively doesn't exist now that he has donned the cowl. Kevin Conroy's response to this dynamic is a Batman "playing" Bruce Wayne, and it successfully creates this obfuscating portrait of a man hiding. Just like Superman playing Clark Kent, Batman plays Wayne, and it works. Affleck I don't believe has the charisma to pull this off. I'm sure there is an "acting" method that can bring Affleck to that position of crisis, that the Batman experiences daily, but I've never seen him in a role that is more complicated than just a prototype protagonist. People need to take comic book characters seriously and understand that they have layers. I don't think you need a better actor than Affleck to play Batman, just one that has experiences playing characters with dynamic moods and beats.
2. Ben Affleck is too pretty.
This is tricky, but it needs to be addressed. As we all know, comic book heroes are hyper-idealized in their conceptualization. Women have huge knockers, and men have muscle groups that even the most disciplined of body builders couldn't manifest. There is this paradigm of perfection that permeates the picturesque world that is DC. Batman is one of the exceptions. Paired with a film Noir atmosphere, the Batman has an innate detective grit about the character. Most Noir can be described as moody and troubling. Every character is questionable or visibly uncomfortable with who they are. Batman succeeds this aspect, driving it further along with a profound anger. The third Nolan Batman, The Dark Knight Rises beautifully captured this dichotomous relationship between subterfuge and deep seated anger. Wayne is, and always will be, the angry foster child. Affleck is too "pretty" for roles like these. He doesn't have the face or personality for it. Matt Damon pulled it off in Good Will Hunting, but even then it requires a brooding visage for the Batman role. Bruce Wayne, as Alex Ross depicts him, embodies that debonair, 40's kind of sophistication, but it's certainly not lighthearted. It's moderated, calculated, and severe.
3. Ben Affleck is not Anonymous.
My favorite quality of the Watchmen movie was that, considering the talent available in Hollywood at the time, Synder used mostly unknowns to constitute the leading cast of the film. It helped to reinforce the normalcy of the characters, that they were just human beings who tried to put on masks and do things in the name of justice. Whether they did so successfully or unsuccessfully is then the question that arises, but it's their non-AAA status that backs the legitimacy of this question. Mr. Affleck is too well known to take on the Batman. Not only that, he's not a character actor. It was balsy of Snyder to use Henry Cavill as Superman in the last film, but it worked. This is because the audience didn't walk in with any expectations. Michael Shannon was even better, because not only is he a phenomenal character actor, he's unknown enough to bring a freshness to the character. As Patton Oswalt jokingly pointed out on Twitter last night, I'm going to be at the edge of my seat waiting for Batman to lurch into a New Jersey accent while he's choking out a hoodlum in the slums of Gotham.
And there you have it!
These, again, are just some thoughts. I think Ben Affleck is a good, well-rounded actor, but I don't think he will make a good Batman. Will I be surprised? Maybe. Who knows? As long as he doesn't sound like a 80 year old hooker that smokes 2 packs of cigarettes a day I suppose I will walk out satisfied. Until then I will just say this...
Warner Bros, dub Ben Affleck with Kevin Conroy's voice. For the love of God! You will ruin this movie if you don't.