Many fans of both the Batman movie franchise and the original DC comic were outraged over the recent announcement of a Ben Affleck Batman in the forthcoming sequel to Man of Steel, currently titled Batman vs. Superman. But his Runner Runner costar, Anthony Mackie is behind him 100%. Having just wrapped up his role as the first African-American superhero, Falcon in the upcoming sequel Captain America: Winter Soldier, Mackie has a little bit of knowledge when it comes to comic book blockbusters.
In Batman vs. Superman, Henry Cavill will come back in his eponymous role and will be joined by co-stars Amy Adams and Diane Lane; Zack Snyder will stay on to direct.
The second episode in the latest Superman reboot is believed to be part of the build-up to the long-awaited launch of the Justice League franchise. The Batman infused sequel reportedly draws from the original Dark Knight graphic novel, written by Frank Miller nearly 30 years ago, and pits the caped crusader against the younger, more inexperienced Clark Kent alter-ego. In the version of the DC universe depicted by Miller, Superman has essentially been reduced to henchman status on behalf of the United States government and is sent to “deal with the Batman problem” when Gotham becomes the safest city in the country, an embarrassment to the national powers that be. However, at such an early stage of pre-production, it’s impossible to tell what will make the final version of the script.
Many displeased fans are probably too young to remember the similar controversy over the casting of Michael Keaton in the title role of the original episode of the first Batman franchise back in 1989. Back then, Keaton was best known for his comedic work, most notably the titular Beetlejuice; and while certainly not unattractive, he didn’t have the kind of physicality and classic good looks associated with the DC hero. Still, Keaton’s Batman was both critically acclaimed and won audiences over. The film, and its sequel Batman Returns were among the most successful for Warner Bros.
So what’s the beef with a Ben Affleck Batman? He’s certainly got the looks and the physique; he’s played a superhero before (Daredevil) and he is a respected, Oscar- and BAFTA-winning writer and director. The thing is, despite more than 30 years as a working actor (he started as a child), Affleck has never really developed the solid chops that his lifelong friend and producing partner Matt Damon has. Sure, Affleck has been in a lot of high-profile movies like Armageddon, Pearl Harbor and The Sum of All Fears. He even garnered quite a few accolades for his performance as former Superman star George Reeves in the film Hollywoodland, but most of his performances have been universally panned. As an actor, Ben Affleck just doesn’t have the range and depth of performance ability that his contemporaries have been able to hone and that is what upsets diehard fans of the DC comics hero.
Batman has long been used as a case-study tool for budding psychologists, due to the ambiguity of his psychological nature. He is both Bruce Wayne and the caped crusader – a difficult balancing act diagetically, but even more so for the actor who plays him. Can Ben Affleck pull this off? Can he do what predecessor Michael Keaton did 25 years ago? Christian Bale is a very tough act to follow and has set the bar extremely high. Hopefully Ben Affleck, standing on the shoulders of his well-earned respect behind the camera, can reach it.
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