The Internet vs. Batman
On August 23rd, after months of speculation, it was announced that reformed leading man, Ben Affleck, would play Batman in Zack Snyder’s next film, tentatively titled “Superman VS Batman”.
As announcements go, it was a doozy, throwing the Internet into a state of chaos. The reaction wasn’t great. In this post alone, comments include “this is a tragedy”, “fans will never go see this bullshit” and “what a joke”. On Facebook, my personal news feed was clogged with friends bemoaning the death of the Batman franchise, while Twitter users tried to outdo each other with Boston accents and Matt Damon jokes. It’s fairly safe to say that the general reaction was a hostile one.
We don’t really need to look too far. The rise and fall of Ben Affleck is public record, and fairly well known. He came to public notice, along with Matt Damon, for his screenplay “Good Will Hunting”, which netted them an Oscar. From there, he shifted straight into leading man territory, while Damon took his time to build a reputation and credit in lower budget flicks. Affleck was never a brilliant hero – “Daredevil”, “Pearl Harbour”, “Armageddon” and “Paycheck” are all testament to this. And then came Jennifer Lopez, and the widespread joke that was “Gigli”, and everything fell apart. Affleck disappeared into the pool of forgettable talent, never to be heard from again.
Except that didn’t happen.
Instead, he worked at it. He started taking jobs that weren’t particularly flattering or popular, but showcased his skills. “Hollywoodland”. “Company Men”. And he directed. Turned out that he was pretty good at it. In three movies, he won a Best Picture award, a plethora of directing gongs, and the reputation of one of Hollywood’s finest filmmakers. He starred in two of his films, “The Town” and “Argo”, and earned pretty good reviews for his depiction of weary, put-upon men.
I don’t really find Affleck to be a mind-blowing performer, but to react with the unbridled vitriol that millions of keyboard warriors are pumping out is pathetic. People bitched and moaned about Michael Keaton, arguably cinema’s greatest Batman, and Heath Ledger, arguably cinema’s greatest villain. Affleck is a man who has seen the heights of celebrity and fallen victim to it, before dragging himself back to the top through talent and a strong work ethic. Who better to fill the cowl of fiction’s Dark Knight?