Here’s an excerpt from the BOF article I wrote on August 22, 2013 about the casting of Ben Affleck as the new Batman on film…
As someone who is a big fan of Affleck and who wanted him to actually direct the next solo Batman film series, I can’t be more happy with this selection. MOS 2/BvS hits theaters on July 17, 2015.
Here’s betting that he’ll also be the next (solo) Batman on film director!
As a huge fan of Ben Affleck — especially as a director — no one was as happy as I was about this news.
See, my Affleck/Batman hopes go back nearly two decades. In 1999-ish when there was talk of the next Batman movie being based on Frank Miller’s YEAR ONE, Affleck was one of my faves (along with Christian Bale) to play a young Bruce Wayne.
Flash-forward to the the 2000s, and Affleck had become my #1 choice to take over the helm of the Batman film franchise as director once Christopher Nolan was done.
And when news broke that Warner Bros. had offered Affleck the job of directing JUSTICE LEAGUE (this was when they were going to use the Will Beall script), I thought, “If he takes this gig, he’s going to play Batman.” Hell, I even expressed that thought in writing here on BOF.
Of course, YEAR ONE never came to be, Affleck would not end up playing a young Batman, and he turned down directing JUSTICE LEAGUE. But, as fate would have it, Affleck was talked into playing Batman in director Zack Snyder’s “sequel” to his MAN OF STEEL — BATMAN v SUPERMAN — as well as in JUSTICE LEAGUE which would follow. However, the best news we got back then (at least for me) was that he would write, direct, and star in a solo Batman film.
BOTH of my Batfleck-wishes were going to come true!
And then BATMAN v SUPERMAN happened.
While Affleck gave a very good performance as Batman/Bruce Wayne, the characterization of Batman as a burned-out, pill-popping, bad guy-executing, wannabe Superman murdering, A-hole just didn’t sit well with me. Apparently, a lot of the general audience agreed with me. That, combined with the film’s super-dark and depressing vibe — and a depressed, morose portrayal of Superman — led to bad critical reviews and an under-performing box office.
And then “I’m not directing THE BATMAN” happened.
Despite months of speculation that Affleck would drop out as director of THE BATMAN, the actor/director was steadfast that he would direct. In fact, he went on JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE in early January of 2017, and strongly proclaimed just that to a national TV audience.
A week and a half later, Warner Bros. issued a press release saying that Ben Affleck was not going to direct THE BATMAN.
And then “I’d be an ape on the ground for Matt Reeves” happened.
In July of 2017 on the eve of San Diego Comic Con, THR reported that Warner Bros. was looking for a way to “gracefully” move on from Ben Affleck as Batman. Of course, Affleck went into PR mode (as he should’ve as a pro) and said that he was “excited” to be Batman, but never really denied the THR report. He also didn’t say flat-out he was going to keep on being Batman.
And then JUSTICE LEAGUE happened.
I’m not going to get into how much of a cluster-f*ck this thing was, but I will point out that as good as Affleck was in BvS, he was equally bad in JL. His performance came off very “mailed-in,” and the dude seemed disinterested AF. What may be even worse is that generally speaking, no one cared about this movie and it showed in the box office.
Generally speaking again, if folks were turned off by BvS and had no interest in seeing JL, why would they want to see more of Ben Affleck’s Batman? (And before you say, “What about WONDER WOMAN?”, I’ll tell you that Gal Gadot and that film is the anomaly. She and that franchise are Teflon…but it still wasn’t enough to get folks to turn out for JUSTICE LEAGUE, was it? AQUAMAN is going to be a test.)
And then I gave up on Batfleck happened.
Bottom line y’all, after all the Batfleck-drama, I’m just DONE.
I know that “Batfleck” has his fans. But I’m sorry, he’s no Bale or Keaton. For the life of me, I don’t see how anyone is emotionally attached to this Batman. Just because Ben Affleck in costume looks the most like the “comic book Batman” to date (though I could make a strong case for Adam West, relatively speaking), does NOT make him a “great Batman,” period.
Yeah, I went there.
After all of THAT negativity and drama (and trust me, I glossed over Affleck’s hem-and-hawing quite a bit in this op-ed), someone needs to give me a good reason why Affleck should continue on as Batman other than aesthetics.
Regardless, think about Matt Reeves. If you’re being allowed to tell the Batman story you want to tell, wouldn’t you want to do it with your Batman? Just like…
Tim Burton (Michael Keaton)…
Joel Schumacher (Val Kilmer AND George Clooney)…
Christopher Nolan (Christian Bale), and yes, even…
Zack Snyder (Ben Affleck).
Here’s the bottom line: If Ben Affleck was going to be Batman in Matt Reeves’ film, Reeves would’ve come out and said it the couple of times he was asked. Instead, he skirted around the issue saying “yeah, that’s the plan…right now” and that Affleck was “still involved” which is far from providing confirmation.
While it sucks for me personally to have to say that I’ve given up on Batfleck, I sure as hell haven’t given up on Ben Affleck as a writer, actor — and especially — director.
I remain a huge fan, honestly. – Bill “Jett” Ramey