August 23rd, 2013, 10:29 am

Beware the Batffleck

When Christian Bale was first cast as Batman, fans cheered. Since as far back as "American Psycho", fanboys and fangirls had clamored for the versatile Bale to take the mantle of the Dark Knight. In "Batman Begins" they got their wish. But after Bale hung up the tights in "Dark Knight Rises", fans were left with the burning question - since DC was itching to do a "Justice League", just who would be Batman? Last night they got their answer: Ben Affleck.

The collective Internet issued a near-unanimous WTF?!

On paper, Ben Affleck doesn't sound as crazy a choice as you might expect. Even though he's two years older than Bale, he can still the look the part of a Bruce Wayne just a little bit older than Henry Cavill's Superman. And as a longtime friend of Kevin Smith, Affleck is a well-known comic geek, certain to bring passion and a high standard to one of the most popular superheroes in the world.

The problem is, after that, the argument for Affleck starts to fall apart. This isn't Affleck's first turn as a pulpy superhero. He's also appeared as the blind Matt Murdock aka Daredevil in a role comic book fans would rather forget. It's not entirely Affleck's fault "Daredevil" was a weak entry in comic book films for quite a few reasons, many of them out of Affleck's control. Still, it didn't win Affleck many supporters in the comic camp. To make matters worst, he also remembered for a variety of other less-than-stellar flicks, ranging from bombastic box office hits like "Armageddon" and "Pearl Harbor" to box office bombs like "Surviving Christmas" and "Gigli". Eventually Affleck transitioned to a larger role behind the camera, including his Oscar-wining turn "Argo". Ironically, fans were generally thrilled when he made the short-list to direct the still-in-development "Justice League" movie, but for one reason or another, that still doesn't translate into credibility in front of the camera.

The main problem isn't so much with Affleck's casting as it is with DC/Warner Bros' impulsive decision making. They wanted a "Justice League" movie in 2015 to rival Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron", even though it took Marvel four years to build to the first "Avengers" movie. They've also kept the same writer/director team of David Goyer and Zach Snyder on the upcoming sequel, in spite of the fact that "Man of Steel" was somewhat critically panned. And now they have picked an actor for Batman who is polarizing at best, and at worst, might just alienate fans.

This isn't to say Affleck's casting dooms the upcoming Batman/Superman movie. Hollywood is a town of risks and comebacks. After all, one of Marvel's first key successes took a risk by casting an actor whose best days, according to many critics, was all but behind him - Robert Downey Jr. Look how that turned out. Affleck might just pull off a similar coup de grace. But Warner Bros. has proved overconfident in its superhero movies in the past, predicting that unrealistic box office success will blot out poor decisions. The assumption cost them dearly with Man of Steel's predecessor, "Superman Returns". Hopefully such decisions won't prove to be kryptonite for a new Superman and Joker's Wild for new Batman.

(That's it for this rant. Check out a new Blue Yonder next week)

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