Of Batmen and Ben Affleck

Story By: Lauren Baker, Art Director

It goes without saying that the recent development concerning the new Man of Steel cross over-sequel hybrid has been…well.. disconcerting.

But honestly, considering the long standing cinematic history of Batman’s-past, can any of us really be that surprised?

At this point, taking a crack at ruining the good name of Batman has practically become a Hollywood right of passage.

In the pool of comparison, we have the following actors who have given their greatest effort in trying to portray the perfect Batman: Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and now…Ben Affleck.

Personally, the best will always be Michael Keaton. I know some of you Christian Bale fans are probably hyperventilating right now, but hear me out. While I do love Christian Bale as much as the next, Michael Keaton portrayed a much more believable version of Batman and Bruce Wayne without sounding like a dork with throat cancer. Bale’s version of Wayne in my eyes came off as whiny, spoiled, and at times, arrogant.

Don’t get me wrong, any billionaire playboy would certainly have his narcissistic moments. It’s a front of course, but it seemed to seep in beyond what he displayed to the public. Keaton gave us a more genuine Bruce Wayne, one that maintained respectability and honor even though he was haunted by the past.

He could be charming without the arrogance; he didn’t need to out-do someone else in order to obtain a woman he was interested in.

Both men do a great job of playing Batman in the medium allotted for them. Michael Keaton plays the best Batman in a fantasy-based world whereas Christian Bale plays the best Batman in a reality-based world.

I get that Bale would alter his voice for the sake of his identity, but honestly, not everyone will know his voice- and it was god-awful.

It’s the same principle with Adam West; he played the best Batman for his time and the most entertaining by far. I’d like to see Ben Affleck top that bomb scene.

Then, Joel Schumacher enters the scene and threatens to ruin the franchise so many love and adore. We all suffered through awful puns and flashes of anatomically-correct rubber pieces to scar us for life. There are few movies that Val Kilmer cannot save, and Batman Forever is unfortunately one of them.

Sure, there was great potential with a star-studded cast that featured names like Nicole Kidman and Jim Carrey.

But once you install another movie and cast George Clooney- an actor incapable of acting or making a different facial expression, for that matter- as Batman, there is no hope of redemption.

It took about 4 to 5 years for Hollywood to reboot the Batman franchise, and fans owe a great deal to Christopher Nolan for fixing a series that almost had no potential to rise again.

While I’m sure most of us can agree that Nolan’s decision to alter Batman’s voice was annoying as well as questionable, he also took a great deal of care and attentiveness to this series that was not  readily evident in past films.

“Batman Begins” was a great, quick start to the trilogy. The movies went in-depth into Bruce Wayne’s past in a way that no Batman film has done thus far.

The Dark Knight was the second Batman film to win an Academy Award; the “Batman” film directed by Tim Burton won an Oscar for “Best Art Direction” and a Grammy for “Best Instrumental Composition.” It also won an Academy Award for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role”(accepted by the family of the late Heath Ledger), in addition to seven other Academy Awards.

Then there’s Ben Affleck, who hasn’t shown any particular talent since “Argo.”  Certainly, he has Oscar nods (and wins) to his belt. But there is no past role or anything he’s ever done that would suggest he would fill these shoes well.

“Daredevil”  should be a testament to that, aside from global fan dismay. He’s not a terrible actor; he’s just not worthy of that caliber of a role.

Affleck would be doing himself a greater service if he continues to stick to romance-comedy films.

Take “He’s Just Not That Into You,” for instance. It is a great modern romance-comedy that tried to match “When Harry Met Sally” in the ‘90s (and failed). This movie was exceptional in its own right, and it was one of the films at which Affleck excelled.

Granted, it wasn’t that demanding of a role. Affleck played the longtime boyfriend of Jennifer Aniston’s character, of whom he kept in the girlfriend zone because he felt marriage was a pointless endeavor.

He did a great job getting the audience to resent him for being the lack-luster boyfriend and redeeming himself in the end by eventually marrying the girlfriend.

I’m not trying to deliberately “hate” on Ben Affleck. The memory of the media frenzy surrounding Heath Ledger after being cast as The Joker is far from forgotten, especially now. No one wanted Ledger to  be in that role after his best previous films were “Brokeback Mountain” and “A Knight’s Tale.”

Even though Ledger was notably a talented actor, fans panicked for fear that he would ruin a role as equal to Batman in the comic book world. I’m sure I speak for many when I say fans were more than pleasantly surprised.

Ledger’s performance breathed new life and appreciation into a role that was last played by Jack Nicholson.

If Affleck can pull off the same feat, or anything close to that, I will be  happy.  While the odds are not quite in his favor, one can only hope he proves his doubters wrong and ends the cycle of  regression towards the progress DC Comics films have finally began to make.