As proof that the world does not, in fact, revolve around me, Friday’s news happened. I go offline for a few days in the mountains, and they pick that moment to announce the stealth casting of as Batman. Thanks, internet! You exploded without me, and our relationship will never be the same. Hmph.
So that’s my explanation as to why I’m tardy to the party on this subject. But I’ve also been figuring out where I stand on this.
While I, like most everyone, am not thrilled by the casting, I also can’t help but think back to how we all felt when Mr. Mom (!) was cast as Batman. And he’s still possibly my favorite Bruce Wayne. More recently, I never would have expected to believe that the skinny guy from Star Trek could be The Mighty Thor, or to see Johnny Storm so easily disappear from ’ earnest performance. So I’m trying to reserve judgment on this new development.
Like many of us, too, my mind went straight to the other superhero that Affleck has portrayed. And that’s not generally helping his case. However, as the surprise wore off, I realized that I shouldn’t judge Affleck’s superhero prowess by the dismal outing that was Daredevil. Here are four reasons why:
1) This isn’t 2003.
It will have been more than a decade since Daredevil, and like most of us, he’s not quite the same guy who wore the red leather and horns. Affleck has been getting a lot of critical love and, more importantly, respect for his work lately (particularly Argo and The Town). Since his Daredevil days, he’s making smarter choices about roles, he’s learned the craft of directing, and he’s become a family man. These things combine to indicate a more mature person and an actor/director who’s more experienced and (hopefully) better at his job.
2) Don’t discount what good (or bad) writers and directors can get from an actor’s performance.
Actors sometimes live up to or down to the directors and scripts they have to work with. A good director can get a great performance out of a mediocre actor, and a bad director may not coax a decent performance out of an Oscar winner. If you want a case in point, compare Natalie Portman in Black Swan or Ewan McGregor (in just about anything indie) to their lackluster performances in the Star Wars prequels. Having a good team can bring out the best or the worst in on-screen performances.
3) Batman vs Superman is not a one- or two-man passion project.
It was common knowledge that director Mark Steven Johnson and Affleck himself were both very passionate about the Daredevil project, and overprotective of it. Affleck went on record saying that he took the role of Matt Murdock to prevent anyone else from changing it and screwing it up, in his opinion. And although it’s good to have a connection to a project like this, too much connection can also result in a skewed perspective and a lack of objectivity (just ask George Lucas!). It can result in trying too hard, and on a reliance on imitation instead of interpretation (Daredevil’s problem). Zack Snyder has already shown that he is not a slave to the comics and that he is willing to adjust what needs adjusted to make things work for modern audiences. This increases the likelihood that cooler heads will prevail during decision-making times.
4) The universe of Batman vs Superman has already been largely formed.
Although we don’t know much about the movie itself, Affleck isn’t really walking into a project still in its gestation. He’s stepping into a universe that has already been successfully set up by Man of Steel, and at worst tweaking it some. The DC Cinematic Universe’s tone, voice, intent, and style are largely in place already, thanks to Snyder and his MoS writers. And since audiences seem pleased with the result, I would expect those things to change as little as possible. Given the established parameters and the multiple people involved, it’s less necessary for Affleck to be brilliant, and more like he just has to not screw the pooch.
As a friend pointed out to me, there is no human alive who would have fully satisfied the myriad and varied desires of the fans. So I have decided to trust Snyder and Co. to know what they’re looking for and what their movie needs. They will have an uphill battle on this one, and I can’t believe they didn’t know that would be the case. So I’m going to remain hopeful that there is a reason for it all.
And if I’m wrong, perhaps some awesome fan can put together a re-edit of the movie with Josh Brolin’s (or Idris Elba’s) head superimposed on Affleck’s body, and we can all still get the movie we want. Or at least, the movie I wanted!