It is obvious that there has been a ton of blow-back in the inter-verse since the announcement of Ben Affleck as the next actor to try his hand at playing the World’s Greatest Detective. Given his history when delving into the sphere of superhero acting I could not say I was surprised. I am not particularly an Affleck fan but then my list of favorite actors is fairly small anyway. I am a Batman fan. He is my favorite non-powered superhero not because of his ability to kick the living snot out of people but of his ability to kick the living snot out of anyone, but he is so much more.
Batman is more than just some obsessed kid with mommy and daddy issues that went to karate school. He is the peak of raw human potential. He trained everything, not just his body for the sole purpose of completing his life’s mission. We need an actor who can convey that type of intensity and bring it to life on film. Christian Bale did his absolute best and was the closest out of all the Bat-men to grace the silver screen. So how can Affleck do it? Simple, understand the pivotal truth of Batman, that the Bat is the man and that Bruce Wayne is not. Understand that those two characters are completely different people and play them accordingly. Know that and approach the role in that way.
Batman is dark and brooding. His voice is low and determined without the need to throw in any coarse gravelly sound. It’ll end up sounding like someone doing a voice rather than the natural sound of a dangerous hunter. Batman’s presence is one that is unsettling. He moves like a predator and wastes no time on unnecessary spectacle. Everything has a purpose and a meaning. An expert tactician, he is a man that plans down to the smallest detail with an execution that is cold and methodical, rigid and uncompromising.
He is also a brilliant detective, an accomplished forensic scientist, and a master of the rule of law. It would be nice to have a Batman that actually did detective work instead of just flying around, pounding the crap out of random thugs and chaining mob bosses to spotlights. Again, Bale came close in “Batman Begins” hunting leads down in The Narrows, but close isn't quite enough. Affleck could be the first to use modern detective techniques on screen.
His logic is also undeniable even to a fault. Remember this is the guy that took down the JLA single-handed. (Look up “Tower of Babel” if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Seriously, read it). The fact that he is set to go up against Superman has us all quivering because he is the one non-powered being who has actually beaten the Man of Steel.
And who is Bruce Wayne? The exact opposite of everything I just mentioned. Sure he’s gotten a bit more philanthropic post “Contagion” and “No Man’s Land” storylines but, at his heart, Bruce Wayne is a rich-guy who throws money at problems and dates supermodels. His voice is middle-range and light with no serious undertone at all. He moves around with an air of self-assured assumption. His is a life that is care-free because he has an obscene amount of money and he can ride on the sympathy train of having his parents murdered when he was a child. He is a womanizing party-boy. When discussing Batman’s future in an issue of “Nightwing”, Nightwing and Robin fretted over the possibility of Batman post-retirement “being Bruce Wayne” and Nightwing offering the opinion that Batman “doesn’t even like Bruce Wayne”
Affleck has to nail that as well. (I seriously think he’ll be just fine in that role). The trick will come with the dichotomy. He needs to separate the two men completely. When Affleck is on the screen being Bruce Wayne, we need to see Bruce Wayne not Affleck playing Bruce Wayne and when he puts on the cape and cowl we need to see Batman, not Affleck playing Batman. If Affleck can do that, if he can juggle that responsibility, then we should be in for a treat when it comes time to go to the movies. Can he do it? I don’t know but that is what I think he needs to do in order to shut up the trolls and put out a fantastic performance.