Earlier today, Abi Toll shared with us on Movie Pilot a new rumor started by Brazilian Journalist Ana Maria Bahiana that Ben Affleck may be out for the role of Batman in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman (or whatever they are calling it this week). Read the details here.
While I am somewhat skeptical of this rumor, particularly since it appears to be coming from one source (and an anonymous one at that) it occurred to me that if it is true, it may actually be a lucky break for Ben. Whatever the truth of the matter may be, whether it's a result of fan reaction (probably not, since when did the studios give a crap about what fans thought?) or if it's a scheduling conflict since they moved the release date (much more likely), or something entirely different, this would be a way to bow out gracefully.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a big Ben Affleck fan. And I even think he has the potential to play the part well. However, I don't think this sort of big budget Hollywood tent pole film is a good choice for him.
This is a guy who resurrected his career from the ashes after a series of missteps making exactly these kinds of films. And when you take a step back and look at the films that led him to ruin... they were films that put him in that leading man role. Reindeer Games, The Sum of All Fears, Daredevil, Gigli, Paycheck, Jersey Girl, Pearl Harbor, etc. The films that really work for him are the roles where he plays a character. He does asshole really well in Dazed and Confused and Mallrats. He is great as the tough Bostonian in films like Good Will Hunting, Smokin' Aces, and The Town. He does well in political thrillers like State of Play and Argo.
I know a lot of people look at Ben Affleck and they say, he's a good actor, he understands the other side of the camera as someone who has won Oscars as a director and a writer, and he has the perfect leading man looks. So why shouldn't we put him in those sorts of roles? And the answer is, I think there is something we don't really like about him in those roles. There needs to be more, and we know he can do more. Ben Affleck is a lot like Brad Pitt in this way. Pitt was made famous by his looks through films like Legends of the Fall and Thelma & Louis, but rather than be pigeon holed for the rest of his career as a pretty boy, Pitt sought out character roles, like his lazy eyes turn in 12 Monkeys. He actually said for awhile he tried to find roles he could intentionally get ugly for, which resulted in the brilliance of Tyler Durden in Fight Club and Mickey in Snatch.
Batman vs Superman is probably a mistake for Ben. And while it might be fun to see him give an aging Bruce Wayne a try, Warner Bros. has yet to show they can get these projects right on the big screen (Nolan's movies were pretty much all Nolan, minimal studio involvement, you just can't really count them), and with all the rumors, scrapped projects and schedule changes, it's starting to look like a clown show. The last thing this guy needs is another Daredevil. Ben Affleck wasn't the problem with that movie, and he was arguably one of the best things in that film, but the fans still hate him for it.