I run marathons in a full-length Batman cape. I have the Batman logo tattooed on my wrist. The only woman I’d ever hook up with is Catwoman. I own every Batman movie ever made — even “Batman & Robin.” My alter ego’s name is Mattman. I collect Batman comics. I even have full costumes of half a dozen Batman characters.
You could say I’m sort of a Bat Fan.
My love for the Bill Finger and Bob Kane creation runs as deep as the Bat Cave and as loyal and true as Alfred. I’m a geek. A fanboy. An obsessed person.
And with all my disdain for the recent incarnation of Batman, who took eight years off because his girlfriend died (avenging dead loved ones is kind of his thing), I was hoping for something awesome when it came to casting the new Dark Knight to play opposite Superman.
Then I found out it was Ben Affleck.
For this unthinkable act, Warner Bros. Studios gets a big fat Harley Quinn mallet to the face and five days trying to get rid of a bomb. Those will be the days they just can’t get rid of a bomb. (That’s a reference to the 1966 film “Batman,” starring Adam West. If you haven’t seen it, there’s something wrong with you.)
Surely this was the cruelest of deeds by the Joker. It was just a farce, right? When I confirmed it was true, I etched out my Batman tattoo with a Magnum Sharpie and screamed to the heavens, “I have no fictional idol!” Of the myriad men (and hell, probably some women) who are eligible to don the cape and cowl in Hollywood, I was confused and angered that Affleck somehow rose to the top. It just didn’t make sense to me.
Now, look. I don’t think the guy’s a bad actor. And I think he’s an excellent director. He also seems pretty humble—the guy’s won two Oscars and a slew of other awards for everything from “Good Will Hunting” to his portrayal of Superma—I mean George Reeves in “Hollywoodland,” and he isn’t running around with awards in tow, showing them to every passerby.
He even started out working with one of my favorite directors, and fellow Batgeek, Kevin Smith. The two are friends, and Smith says Affleck is a huge Batman fan.
Wait, why do I hate him again?
Holy Unjustified League, Batman! I actually don’t know why I have so much animosity toward the lantern-jawed fellow. I must have ingested some Scarecrow-esque concoction where good things appear as nightmares.
Historically, the naysayers have pulled no punches when it came to Batcasting. Michael Keaton may have gotten an even bigger backlash had the Internet been the Bane-sized behemoth it is today. The 1988 equivalent of such a backlash came in the form of a Los Angeles Times article by Leonard Klady titled “Mr. Mom as Batman?”
“He might have made a good Joker, but his comic style, which he seems unable to shake (but can amplify), has doomed this promised ‘serious’ treatment of Bob Kane’s character to the same tired, boring level of artificial ‘camp’ that made the TV series a hit yet simultaneously doomed it to an early cancellation,” Klady wrote.
To date, Keaton is my favorite play-it-straight Batman. But, to be fair, I also think Tim Burton is the best director to ever take on Batman films.
Burton’s rating is a lifetime of living as Bruce Wayne for his awesome Batman movies. But, for not returning and passing the torch on to Joel Schumacher, I’ve got to give Burton a Catwoman mauling once every week of said lifetime. He can choose the day.
People will point to all the bad things an actor is known for when casting decisions like these are made. Sure, we can look to “Daredevil,” “Gigli” and “Jersey Girl” and say Ben Affleck is definitely not the guy to put on a rubber bat costume. But we’d be forgetting those movies were made a decade ago, and Affleck has since become a movie-making powerhouse.
Am I talking myself into believing Affleck is awesome? OK, maybe I am just a little. But who can say he’s going to be a bad Batman until he actually plays the part? I mean, some folks were just head-over-heels for Christian Bale, and that dude ended up sounding like a dog barking through a drive-thru speaker.
Go watch “Dark Knight Rises” and tell me I’m wrong.
I’m giving Affleck a chance. If it works out, then awesome. If it doesn’t, then I guess I’ll just have to get my Batfix through the pages of a DC comic.