A Study in Batman: Or I Like Ben Affleck

Look, I like to hate things as much as the next guy; my little nerd heart grows three sizes with rage. I like to sit on my pop culture porch and scream at the kids to get off my lawn. But I need my rage to be actually connected to something that I’m legitimately angry about. My hatred needs to be drawn from life experiences and slowly processed over time. No manufactured, store-bought hate here. I can’t hate for the sake of hate, I want to hate things worth my hatred. Like Nazis or Robert Picardo (just kidding, Mr. Picardo, don’t sic your assistant on me again).

So, I’ll come out and say it… I like Ben Affleck.

Maybe, “like” is too strong a word though. I have no opinion of Ben Affleck, but if I did have an opinion (which I don’t), that opinion would fall on the positive side. He’s an okay actor, he’s an okay director, and he’s really okay at being friends with Matt Damon. All admirable things to be okay at. So, I just didn’t understand the internet backlash of him being cast as Batman.

Even Mrs. Gnards had an opinion, which was: Really? Okay… (those dot dot dots represents her still thinking about it, which she is).

So, why do we think he’d be horrible, and why do we care if he is?


Because He was in a Bad Movie… Once

The two most compelling internet arguments against Ben Affleck playing Batman are Gigli and Daredevil. Which is usually expressed as “I have one word for you: Gigli” or “I have two words for you: Dare… Devil.”

Gigli is a completely unfair argument because no one has ever seen this movie (if you claim to have seen this movie, please, support it with photograph evidence of you watching the credits with a frowny face). I’ve made fun of Gigli, but it’s like Ishtar in the 80's, it’s just a universally accepted bad movie that you don’t actually have to sit and watch to know that it’s bad. This is the laziest movie joke that can possibly be made. And while I don’t hate easily, I am very lazy (or have you not noticed I don’t post more than once a week?). But Affleck could be great in it, he could terrible, he could be okay, but we’ll never know. It’s like the pyramids, Gigli is one of the great mysteries of life. Ultimately, Gigli failed not because of Affleck but because the world was tired of seeing good things happen to him. Who is this lantern-jawed bastard to have such good things happen to him? Which interestingly we’ve returned to this same mindset with Batman. That and Gigli’s name. It’s nearly impossible to go to a movie theater and say, “One for Gigli, please.”

Daredevil, however, I have seen, and it’s not good but it’s not entirely terrible either. Far worse movies, far worse superhero movies, and far worse Marvel superhero movies have been made. Much like Ben Affleck himself, Daredevil is just there, mired in averageness. It could be worse. It could be the Dolph Lundgren Punisher, or the Thomas Jane Punisher or the whoever that other guy Punisher (which was actually a pretty decent Punisher, all Punishers considered). I don’t believe Daredevil was bad because of Ben Affleck either. It was just made in a time before Marvel knew how to make good movies (as in they just sold properties to the highest bidder and said, “Check, please.”). There's a long list of people who needed to care to make Daredevil a good movie before it fell on Affleck's shoulders.

Judging Affleck’s ability to play Batman like this is like judging Christian Bale by Newsies, or judging Michael Keaton by The Dream Team, judging Val Kilmer by some make believe bad Val Kilmer movie, or judging George Clooney from Batman & Robin. Pointing out anyone’s worst movie and saying that this is all they can do when they have a huge body of work that says otherwise is a ridiculous argument.

What's the Bat-Standard?

Ben Affleck played Daredevil as a vaguely mopey guy who didn’t know what was going on, and Christian Bale played Batman as a vaguely mopey guy who didn’t know what was going on. So, what’s the big deal?

If the only standard we have are the previous Batmen, all Ben Affleck has to do is be as good or better than Christian Bale… and that shouldn’t be a problem. Christian Bale was a mediocre Batman at best. Now before you race to the comment section to tell me “FAIL” or how much idiocy my idiotness has idioted, hear me out. I really love the Christopher Nolan Batman films, I liked them better than the Tim Burton films (and certainly better than the Joel Schumacher). But those movies weren’t good because Bale was the best Batman, those were just good movies that happened to have Batman in them.

Why Christian Bale’s Batman Sucked

His Voice
I don’t think I really have to mention his Batman voice, it’s generally accepted as awful. Both the police and criminals of Gotham must have incredible hearing because I would constantly be asking about, “What? Swar Tuna? You want me to ‘Swar Tuna?’” Batman and Bruce Wayne should have different voices, but it should probably be the other way around. Batman is essentially being himself when he's Batman, whereas, Bruce Wayne is the show he puts on for the public. Oh... swear to me… got it!

He never Knew What was Going on… Ever
This was supposed to be the World’s Greatest Detective? He spent three movies just wandering around aimlessly, hoping the bad guy would show up at his front door (which they mostly did). Ra's al Who? Harvey What? Talia How? Batman’s tricked by the Joker 4 times: he’s tricked at the assassination attempt, he’s tricked into capturing the Joker so the Joker could sneak a bomb into police headquarters, he’s tricked into rescuing Harvey (and the only reason Harvey was burned is because Batman did such a piss poor job of it), and then he’s tricked when Harvey was the target and not the Batman (which technically means the Joker won in the end because his only goal was to show how a good man could be corrupted and the only reason the public didn’t know is because they blamed Batman which turned the public opinion against Batman… which was Joker’s actual initial goal. He brought down the Batman).

Trick the Goddamn Batman once, shame on Goddamn you; trick the Goddamn Batman twice… the point is you can’t trick the Goddamn Batman.

Everyone Knows his Secret Identity

Secret is the only critical part of the Secret Identity. Ra's al Ghul, Morgan Freeman, some accountant, Catwoman, some cop… all figured out who he was. Ra's al Ghul is forgivable, he figured it out in the comic book and is generally accepted as a genius. But some accountant? If some accountant is figuring it out, everyone is figuring it out. I assume many people in the US government have seen the Tumbler. So, basically anyone who developed the Tumbler or any country that Wayne Tech tried to sell the Tumbler to, would immediately know Wayne Tech was involved with, at least, arming Batman(combine that with Bruce Wayne just showing up from Asia at the same exact time Karate Chops a Lot pops up on the scene in rubber mask).

Then he outright told Rachel and Gordon. Instead of say being like Batman and just leaving like a ninja, Christian Bale likes to wax poetic about little kids wearing coats. The Batman doesn’t give verbal clues to who he is, he leaves mid sentences because he’s busy grappling things and punching bad guys.

But at the end of the day, these aren’t really Christian Bale complaints. These are minor story elements that were so minor they never took me out of the story. However, I can’t give his performance the reverence so many of you are willing to give it. He was as okay as we all know Ben Affleck is capable of being okay.

Why Ben Affleck will be a Good Batman

The main thing going for Affleck is head size. A good Batman needs a generously sized head. Otherwise, you’ll get lost in the mask. Batman needs a high chin to nose proportion with a larger than average forehead. Check, check, and check. Ben Affleck has a head two Ron Perlmans bigger than Christian Bale's. What makes Batman is ultimately not the man behind the mask, but the head that fills it.

Batman sizes
Not to scale.

Final Bat-Thoughts
Favorite Batman: Adam West
Best Batman: Kevin Conroy
Batman I Picture when I Think of Batman: Michael Keaton
Most Underrated Batman: Valentine Kilmer

Affleck may not be able capable of cracking this list, but I'd like to see him try. And if he fails THEN the belittling can begin.

  • RobotsPJs
    Comment from: RobotsPJs
    09/26/13 @ 11:55:22 am

    Love it.

  • Jake
    Comment from: Jake
    09/30/13 @ 12:19:34 pm

    "Two Ron Perlmans bigger..." Greatest unit of measurement ever cited in a blog post.

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