To say fans have been unhappy with the news that Ben Affleck will play Batman in Batman vs. Superman would be an understatement. The reaction is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the three years I’ve been running Batman News. Hundreds of online petitions have gathered tens of thousands of signatures. The most embarrassing act by far was the submission to the White House’s “We the People” petition system, asking the government to make it illegal for Ben Affleck to portray Batman, or any other superhero, for 200 years. That petition has been removed by the White House for violating their terms of participation. Before I get into why I support Ben Affleck as Batman, I’d like to take a trip down memory lane and look back at a few other controversial Batman casting announcements that ended up becoming fan favorites.
3. Michael Keaton
Can you imagine if the internet was around in 1988 when Michael Keaton was announced as Batman? Keaton was best known as a comedy actor for his work in Mr. Mom and Beetlejuice. Back then there were hand written petitions, asking Warner Bros. to cast someone else as the Caped Crusader. And while the 5′ 10″, 150lbs actor didn’t look like the Batman from the comics, he was able to disappear into the role once he put on the suit and cowl. Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman was a huge success and many considered Michael Keaton the best Batman for nearly two decades until Christian Bale won over new and old fans alike in the Dark Knight Trilogy.
2. Anne Hathaway
When Anne Hathaway was announced as Catwoman in January 2011, the news was met with mixed reactions. She had never played a role like this before, and many just thought of her as the actress from The Princess Diaries. It was hard to imagine the clumsy, quirky Hathaway as the dark, sexy, cunning Selina Kyle. Many fans walked out of The Dark Knight Rises last summer very impressed by Hathaway’s portrayal, proving that a great actor can become any character that their script calls for.
1. Heath Ledger
How can we forget Heath Ledger? When he was announced as Joker in the summer of 2006, fans freaked out. The reaction was almost as bad as it’s been for Ben Affleck. Ledger had just come off of the very popular movie Brokeback Mountain, and fans left the most hateful, homophobic comments imaginable across comment sections all over the web. Heath Ledger silenced every critic on July 18th, 2008 when The Dark Knight hit theaters. His performance as Joker earned him an Oscar, and it will be remembered for years to come.
The moral of the story? Sometimes the person you least expect to be great, ends up shocking the world. A lot of people have been asking what I think about Ben Affleck as Batman, and I think he’s going to do a great job. I’ve only seen two Ben Affleck movies — both this year — The Town and Argo. Those are his two most recent movies, and he was great in them. The guy can act, which is a plus in my book. What else is important for an actor portraying Batman? The look. Ben Affleck is 6′ 4″, handsome, and in great shape. That makes him even bigger than Henry Cavil’s Superman. A lot of people keep bringing up Affleck’s last superhero role. He starred in Daredevil in 2003, which was 10 years ago. If that’s your only argument, consider this — aren’t you better at your job today than you were 10 years ago? If you’re a senior in high school, don’t you know more today than you did when you were 8 years old? I think it’s unfair to look at Ben Affleck’s performance from 10 years ago and assume that he’s going to mimic it in 2015’s Batman vs. Superman. If you want to criticize his work as an actor, look at his most recent performances in The Town and Argo. He’s come a long way over the years.
With all that said, and everyone having a few days to digest and think over the news, what do you think about Ben Affleck playing Batman? Place your vote in the poll and explain your reasons in the comments below. I look forward to hearing arguments from both sides!