By now, you've surely heard the news: Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman in the still unofficially titled 'Man of Steel 2,' which will see Superman go toe-to-toe with the Caped Crusader.
The reaction was immediate and intense. For every fan who thought Affleck was a great choice, there was another who was ready to jump off a bridge. For every reasonable conversation about the casting, there was another that made reasonable people want to remove their ears upon hearing "Batfleck." Because that's how much people love Batman; he drives us all to bridge jumping.
However, the simple truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as multiple opinions on the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman. There is only one solid fact: it's terrific. There's no one we'd rather see put on the cape, get behind the wheel of the Batmobile and chuck batarangs at criminals' heads.
You want a good reason? Here are a few..
He's a Damn Good-Looking Man
Look, let's get this one out of the way first: Ben Affleck is an extraordinarily good-looking man with a physique and face that seem like they were specifically crafted by nature for a superhero costume. More importantly, his looks are in line with our new Superman -- like Henry Cavill, Affleck is a man, not some generic, flavor-of-the-week pretty boy. They were never going to get an ugly brute to wear the cape and cowl (although 'The Dark Knight Returns' writer/artist Frank miller would probably prefer it that way), but at least they're casting the right kind of handsome. If you're attracted to Ben Affleck, it's only because you're a human being. (And let's be clear, we're not saying Christian Bale is an ugly brute.)
So, Let's Talk About 'Daredevil'
The most common complaint from fans about Affleck's casting as Batman has been to dredge up the debacle that was 2003's 'Daredevil.' They ignore his two Oscars. They ignore 'Hollywoodland,' 'The Company Men,' 'The Town' and 'Argo.' They ignore the fact that he's a completely different man than he was back in his (shudder) "Bennifer" days. All some people can talk about is the fact that he once played a superhero in a terrible movie.
Yes, 'Daredevil' is stilted, boring movie that's somehow managed to age into an even more stilted and boring movie. Yes, Affleck isn't particularly good in it. But let's be honest with ourselves here: Affleck is the least of the film's problems. Can we talk about the lousy screenplay? Can we talk about Mark Steven Johnson's pedestrian direction? Can we talk about every single thing that's wrong with the movie (which will take all day)? Affleck is guilty of being involved in a production that was a clusterfrack from frame one -- of course, he was bad in it! Everyone was bad in it!
If you're going to use 'Daredevil' as a reason why Ben Affleck shouldn't play Batman, your argument is essentially "every actor whose given a poor performance or starred in a lousy movie can't play Batman." Follow that logic and no one plays Batman. Ever.
A decade ago, Ben Affleck put on skintight leather to play the Marvel superhero Daredevil and the whole world rolled its eyes. What changed? It's quite simple, really. Time has been kind to Affleck. As he's aged, he's grown as an actor and artist, taking on more nuanced, challenging roles and proving himself to be one of the best directors working today. Affleck wears this experience in every film he's in now, appearing less like a cocky young star and more like a guy who's seen it all. It's easy to write off young Affleck -- he was likable but rarely compelling. But 41-year-old Affleck? He's aged into a true movie star, a man of genuine interest.
In the official press release, director Zack Snyder talks about Affleck being able to play both sides of Batman, the charming Bruce Wayne and the tough, vigilant Batman. Directing himself in 'The Town' and 'Argo,' he proved more than capable of playing complicated characters with dual identities, guys whose soft sides mask something far darker, tougher and more violent. Anyone who immediately writes off Affleck has not seen the films he's directed or, more specifically, the performances he's given in films he's directed.
Batman Can Smile, You Know
We liked Bale as Batman as much as the next fanboy, but it's time for a change. We know Bruce Wayne has a lot to be angry about, but that doesn't mean the Caped Crusader can't crack a grin now and then. Bale's stoic, humorless performance was typical for him, but Affleck is a very different kind of actor. He's a naturally funny and charming guy, a performer who can own the stage on 'Saturday Night Live.' Now, we're not saying Affleck should take the Adam West route with his Batman, but we are saying that Affleck can play a Batman who, you know, occasionally feels joy and has amusing things to say to Alfred. Batman can be dark without being mopey, so let Affleck do what he does best and lighten it up just a little bit.
Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Has any actor really captured Bruce Wayne? While Christian Bale and Michael Keaton made more-than-capable Batmen, their take on the millionaire playboy behind the mask was always a little, well, dull. Bruce was always the least interesting part of Christopher Nolan's 'Dark Knight' trilogy. He was a cipher who occasionally pretended to be a loudmouth rich kid when he wasn't fighting crime. What about the Wayne of the comics? The well-liked philanthropist and social celebrity who acts as a figurehead for Gotham City by day before protecting it behind a mask at night? Affleck is perfect for this half of Batman's existence. Effortlessly classy, charming and suave, he resembles the Bruce Wayne we know and love, more so in everyday life than any actor who's put on the cowl before.
BONUS: Holy Jawline, Batman!
When you're casting Batman, there's one thing more important than anything else. Sure, good looks, a superheroic physique and strong acting skills are a requirement, but they're all secondary at the end of the day. You see, there is one part of Batman that is more important than any other. If not chosen correctly, it's a tiny detail that could derail the entire film. We are, of course, talking about Batman's chin. If Batman has a bad chin, how the heck is he supposed to make that costume look cool at all? A bad chin and/or jawline will only make the whole thing look silly.
But, ladies and gentlemen, Ben Affleck has one helluva jawline. And that's all you need, really.