A Look at Batman Over the Years: A Rhetorical Argument for Poor Ben Affleck

Ever since I can remember, I have been a Batman geek. While I am not big on comics outside of Archie and the occasional X-Men, I ate up the Batman comics, along with the cartoon and TV adaptations and, of course, the films. I started watching Adam West’s Batman and I thought no one could top it. He was campy, fun and looked great in a pair of tights. Also, I really appreciated the stop motion “WHAM!” that would light up the screen when he punched a bad guy.

With Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as his faithful sidekick, Robin, it seemed the 1960’s version of Batman could get no better. Alas, capitalistic Warner Bros and DC Comics refused to let the franchise die in 1968 and twenty years later, funny man Michael Keaton took over the role to hums and haws from the fans. I distinctly remember going to the movie theater to watch Keaton in the 1989 Batman movie. I was eleven, and my little sister could not understand my fascination with “boy’s television”. She still can’t.

For the first time in my lifetime, I watched on the big screen my dark hero come to life. Keaton gets a bad rap after Batgod Christian Bale, but to me, Keaton played the part of Bruce Wayne/Batman as sexy and dark, with just enough quirk to remind audiences of Adam West’s portrayal, but not enough to overpower viewers with comparisons. Twice Keaton took on the role of Batman, going up against Jack Nicholson’s Joker (the only person we wanted to see in that role until Heath Ledger wowed us) in the first flick and Michelle Phieffer’s sexy Catwoman in the 1992 hit, Batman Returns.

By the time Val Kilmer took to the screen as Batman in 1995, only 3 years after Keaton’s successful second go, I already had a brewing crush on the actor from his role as Jim Morrison in The Doors (1993) and of course, Doc Holiday in Tombstone (1991). Still, I couldn’t help but wonder how the hell such a serious actor, a man who had played a sword for hire in Willow (1998) a kid’s sci-fi fantasy movie for godssakes, would ever be able to step into the cape and cowl to bring the role together. “The franchise is dead!” Nerds and geeks screamed from the top of buildings! “Michael Keaton is the only Batman!”

Goodness, fandom, will you get over yourself?

Kilmer held his own against Batman Forever villains Two-Faced (Tommy Lee Jones) and the Riddler (Jim Carrey), and brought sexy back with his portrayal of Bruce Wayne in a tuxedo.

Perfection in a tuxedo.
Perfection in a tuxedo.

The franchise keeps trudging along, doesn’t it? Two years later, WB is at it again, hoping to infuse new life into Batman, but alas, if anyone killed the Batman, it wasn’t Bane, it was George Clooney. What happened there? I mean, I saw the movie, I love George Clooney, but I just couldn’t get on board with that choice. He had bat nipples! No one wants to see that. The hot mess that was the 1997 Batman & Robin release did not get the reception the studios were expecting. What it did do what remind us of something that had been missing from the previous Batman films. His trusty sidekick, Robin. We met Chris O’Donnell in Kilmer’s film, but his character truly develops alongside poor George Clooney, for whom all the success of E.R. could not get audiences to accept him in the role of the Dark Knight. Thank goodness, this particular Batman film falls into obscurity, with fans accepting the failure and MOVING ON. I mean, Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl? The casting choices, gaaaah.


Enter stage left the gorgeous, talented, swoon worthy Christian Bale, supposedly the one true and worthy Batman. The only actor who will ever be able to growl accordingly. In all honesty, I really really enjoyed Bale in his 3 Batman flicks. Although we all have heard he’s a douche, he played the role of the tortured dark hero in utter perfection. The franchise has gotten more twisted and the main character more brooding since Adam West’s silly sixties version, and Bale took that darkness to a new level. With Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Bale and director Christopher Nolan summed up all of Batman’s life in 3 movies. Bale’s time as the Batman ends with (spoilers) Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle sitting in a European cafe, toasting and happily ignoring Alfred, ready to move on with normal life.


He didn’t actually take it with him when he left.

But, really fans, who (besides DC Comics and WB) made Christopher Nolan God, giving him the terrible power to end the Batman franchise? All Nolan can do is tell a story we all know and love. Batman is a STORY. One with many tales not yet told on the big screen. Does this mean, because Nolan told the tale that broke the Batman’s back, we cannot ever have the Dark Knight on screen again?  We cannot give the role to another actor for fear that he might ruin the character? While Ben Affleck might be an odd choice, so was Heath Ledger as the Joker. After Brokeback Mountain, audiences couldn’t understand the choice. Viewers wanted Jack Nicholson to remain the ONLY ACTOR EVER to play the Joker. How is this a healthy attitude to have, fandom? It is like saying Peter Capaldi shouldn’t be the 12th Doctor because he is not Matt Smith or David Tennant…or the other 9 actors to have taken on the role. No chance, judge and jury are out, he can’t do it.


But, you say, Daredevil was soooo bad.

I don’t disagree, but do we judge actors solely on films they made, oh, I dunno, over a decade ago?

Get over yourself, fandom, and give Ben a chance. He might have sucked ass in Daredevil, but that doesn’t mean he should never, ever attempt to don a cape and cowl again. He’s got an epic chin, which I don’t doubt will look great under the Batmask. He looks great in a tux, he’s got a quirky sense of humor (see: Dogma, Chasing Amy) and he has grown into a magnetic force on the screen. Also, Affleck will have his trusty sidekick HENRY CAVILL as Superman to distract fangirls from any poor acting choices on Ben’s part (Let’s not get started on the Superman reboots).

I’m distracted right now…

Honestly folks, Affleck has 2 Oscars under his belt, and the tortured soul of a man who almost made babies with J-Lo, but made Gigli instead. Have we forgotten how great Affleck was in The Town, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon and Argo?  What Affleck doesn’t have is Christopher Nolan, the director who brought us the last 3 Batman movies and basically attempted to end the franchise BECAUSE HE SAID SO. I dislike the gravitas it takes to pull off a stunt like that and find it a bit presumptuous. While Zach Snyder didn’t do Inception, I would say he did fairly well with the lesser known comic adaptations. Oh, you know, Man of Steel, 300, Watchmen and Sucker Punch, to name a few. Give the guys a chance! I, for one, am more worried about the quality writing of a mash-up Batman/Superman thing than Affleck as the Dark Knight. Still, the superhero genre is at the top of it’s game right now. I have no doubt that DC Comics, Marvel, Snyder, Cavill and Affleck will rock the shit out of this movie. At least enough to warrant Big Gulp cups with their images, a bunch of new lunch boxes and of course, a new ride at Six Flags.

No mask needed.
No mask needed.


The Collectiva Diva


To Ben–The backlash from this announcement is just the beginning of fandom BS. You have no idea what the geeks have in store for you. Wait til your first Comic Con.


7 thoughts

  1. I agree that the writing is much more concerning to me than the casting of Affleck. In the right hands, any casting can work, as long as the writers and director understand how best to use the actor (see, the mess that is Batman and Robin).

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