Ben Affleck will most likely be a fine Batman. Maybe even terrific. No, he won't be the brooding Batman that we watched Christian Bale play in the last three theatrical representations -- because it's not really the point to represent dark realism when the point of this Batman is to quarrel with a handsome alien. Ben Affleck is a good choice for Batman. Though, with Affleck's recent critical success -- culminating in an Oscar win for Argo -- I'm not sure Batman is a good choice for Ben Affleck.
It's notable that it was a superhero that helped save Ben Affleck's career. Superman, actually. After a string of bad movies that, at this point, don't even need to be repeated, Affleck portrayed the tragic George Reeves in the wonderful, if little seen, Hollywoodland. From that point on, everything in Affleck's career, in hindsight, seems meticulously and painstakingly orchestrated. And I mean "orchestrated" in the best sense of the word: Like it was orchestrated by someone who was really paying attention and, more important, by someone who really cared.
After Hollywoodland, Affleck moved on to directing the fantastic Gone Baby Gone (which resulted in more than one "Holy shit, Ben Affleck directed this?" reaction), followed by the also well-received The Town, in which the newly-minted filmmaker also starred.
It's remarkable that Ben Affleck didn't just recover from one of the most notable career slumps in the history of Hollywood to have a viable career -- he achieved prestige along the way. It's what anyone worth his or her salt in filmmaking aspires for, and Affleck came from the bowels of Hollywood hell to grab it.
This all hit its crescendo earlier this year when Affleck accepted Argo's Academy Award for Best Picture. (He won as its producer, but he was also the star and director.) He had reached the pinnacle and, honestly, I couldn't wait to see what he did next. Affleck is a truly gifted filmmaker, and in this day and age of stupid blockbuster after stupid blockbuster, Affleck's voice as a filmmaker is a breath of fresh air. Affleck is actually making those mid-budget great movies that just aren't made anymore.
Well, now he's Batman.
This would be like Barack Obama deciding that after his second term is over that he would like to host The Tonight Show. It's trading high-profile prestige for the high-profile middlebrow. (By contrast, Christian Bale traded low-to-medium profile prestige for high profile middlebrow, which was a smart career choice.) It's a strange choice for Affleck, who can do pretty much anything he wants right now. Apparently what he wants to do is play Batman.
Look, it's no secret that Affleck is a huge fan of comic books and that he's always been disappointed with how Daredevil turned out. And, I will reiterate, I think Affleck will make a fine Batman. I have absolutely no problem with that choice coming from the Batman vs. Superman side of this equation. But now, according to Jeff Sneider at The Wrap, Affleck's next directorial project, Live By Night is going to be "significantly delayed." So, yes, I'd rather see Ben Affleck make new films than play Batman.
Affleck is placing what he's really talented at doing on the side burner to, instead, do something he will be good at -- but it's also something that anyone can really do. Not everyone has the gift to make a movie like Affleck does, but there are plenty of people who can play Batman.
It's unlikely that Warner Bros. would sign Affleck as Batman for just one movie. They don't want to do this search again in the next few years, plus they hope to build a cinematic universe that will rival what Marvel has done. So, yes, this probably means Affleck will eventually get his own standalone Batman movie, and this most likely means Affleck will also be in a Justice League movie if and when that ever happens. Hell, he'll probably get to direct it (which had been rumored before).
This is all great news if you love Ben Affleck in superhero movies. This is not so great news if you've really been enjoying the work Affleck has been doing over the last seven years -- because we're not going to see that for a while.
Right after the news broke, I was texting with Chris Rosen, who made a valid point that, "Affleck still wants to act and he can't just keep acting in the movies that he directs." (Note: Affleck did work with Terrence Malick on To The Wonder, but that performance wasn't really traditional acting; he's also starring in Gone Girl for David Fincher.) I just find it hard to believe that with all of the goodwill Affleck has earned -- truly earned -- over the last few years, that he couldn't find himself working with other great filmmakers like a Wes Anderson or a Paul Thomas Anderson -- filmmakers who could have helped hone Affleck's talents even more ...
Instead, he's Batman.
The reaction to Affleck as Batman on Twitter last night was mixed. But, for the first time in five or six years, people were making Ben Affleck jokes again. As an admirer of Ben Affleck's recent work, this made me incredibly sad. Affleck has worked so hard to get to where he is today -- I just hope he's not wasting it all just to appease whatever deep-seated need it is inside of him to play Batman. Again, he'll be a fine Batman. I'm just afraid that, at least for the time being, we've lost a great filmmaker.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.
COUNTERPOINT: Batman Is Good For Ben Affleck