Even Oprah Winfrey would have made a better Batman than Ben Affleck

Published: August 27, 2013
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Actor/director Ben Affleck poses in the press room with his Best Director for a motion picture award for "Argo". PHOTO: FILES

What is absolutely crystal clear after the controversial announcement that two time Academy Award winning filmmaker/actor, Ben Affleck, is going to be the man to don the mask and cowl for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman film, is that the internet never forgets.

Yes, to say that Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting), after a bright start made some career mistakes, would be to utter an understatement larger than the $27 million rear of his former girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez.

In 2001, Ben Affleck starred in the Michael Bay film Pearl Harbor, which sadly was a bigger tragedy than the actual historic event the movie was based on. Incidentally, it was one of the few times in history that the George Bush administration exercised extreme restraint by not dropping a nuclear bomb on Michael Bay’s mansion in retaliation.

Affleck later headlined Gigli (2003) with JLO, a film so bad that it became the reference point for terrible films. Things got worse with his turn as a superhero in the film, Daredevil (2003), where Affleck played the titular role as the blind lawyer Matt Murdoch. Although Affleck’s own performance wasn’t bad, the film was better enjoyed with the eyes closed.

Perhaps a little like Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises, Ben Affleck rose from the Hollywood ashes to give his career an incredible transformation. He put in a fine performance playing George Reeves in the HBO film Hollywoodland, where he was highly convincing as a troubled actor, struggling with his waning popularity. George Reeves, of course, was TV’s superman.

Starting with the well-received Gone Baby Gone in 2007, Ben Affleck showed that his true talents lay behind the lens, later directing two more critically acclaimed films in the shape of The Town, and Argo.

Unfortunately for Affleck, the internet community went batshit insane at the announcement that he would be the latest to play the masked vigilante, quickly ignoring his latest accomplishments, and firing as many Daredevil and Gigli jokes as possible. Some were cruel, some were sympathetic, but all were mostly hilarious:

Other’s poked fun at Affleck’s on screen partnership with his longtime friend, Matt Damon:

https://twitter.com/TheFakeCNN/status/370925700657991680/photo/1

Personally speaking, I was disappointed with the casting choice. While I am sure that Ben Affleck has the skills to be highly convincing as the conflicted playboy billionaire, Bruce Wayne, I am not entirely convinced that Affleck has the physical presence or the dark aura of his predecessor, Christian Bale, to pull off Batman, a superhero whose shadowy presence is enough to strike fear in the hearts of criminals.

After some thought, I made a list of eleven people who would have made a better Batman than the Argo director:

1. Wes Bentley

2. John Hamm

3. Karl Urban

4. Morgan Freeman

5. Gordon Freeman

6. Oprah Winfrey

7. An actual bat

8. An actual man

9. A toaster oven

10. Any one of the ‘Golden Girls’.

11. Kamran Akmal

Some have defended this controversial casting choice by arguing that Heath Ledger faced a similarly negative fan backlash, before handing in a magnificent performance as Batman’s nemesis, Joker. While this is true, and Ben Affleck certainly has the talent to surprise us by turning in a memorable performance as the caped crusader, he, unlike Heath Ledger at the time, has to overcome the hurdle of being a far more recognisable actor.

The decision to cast Henry Cavill in The Man of Steel was a smart one because aside from Henry’s acting talents, and his Superman like physique, he was a relative unknown, which made it easier to accept him as Superman. Similarly, Christan Bale wasn’t very familiar with film audiences, so it was easier to see him as Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins.

On the other hand it could be difficult to watch Ben Affleck play Batman without thinking of Bruce Wayne screaming, ‘Haay Aalfred!’ in a thick Bostonian accent, or imagining Bruce Wayne digging away with a group of oil rig works on an asteroid heading for earth ala Armageddon (1998).

Perhaps the suits at Warner Bros. are hoping to replicate the success Marvel have had with Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, by casting an established star to play Batman.

While I am cautious about Ben Affleck’s performance in this new role, I am really excited about the prospect of Ben Affleck directing and starring in a solo Batman film. Clearly, Affleck has a stronger filmmaking pedigree than the Man of Steel director Zach Snyder, who in my opinion is yet to make a completely good film. If Warner Bros. have gained Affleck’s services both as an actor and a filmmaker, then perhaps they have shown greater foresight than those of us complaining have given them credit for.

But for now, Affleck has to prove himself as a worthy successor to Christian Bale, who left some fairly deep boots to fill. Does Ben Affleck have enough steel to portray a convincing Dark Knight? Well, if Michael Keaton, an actor who had been known only for comedic films, could do convincingly it in 1989 (Batman), then perhaps so can Affleck.

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Too personal

    ‘..larger than the $27 million rear of his former girlfriend..’
    I liked all your previous articles..but you’ve dissapointed me with your attempt at humour. Maybe I’m conservative,but I think no woman must be spoken of, like that…esp.by a married man..actress or not..she is/was someone elses wife and mother.Recommend

  • bEEP

    Your comment about Jennifer Lopez’ butt was uncalled for.Recommend

  • shazz

    Hilarious article this! Enjoyed it, kamran akmal as batman would ve been better indeed!Recommend

  • Boycott

    Even Oprah Winfery will make a better COAS in Pakistan. Let us wait for it to come out and than decide.Recommend

  • http://fahadzaki.wordpress.com Fahad Zaki

    Three questions for the author of this post:
    1- Who the heck are you?
    2- How many Oscars have you won?
    3- Have you seen ‘The Town (2010)’? (which Ben Affleck co-wrote and directed)
    — In ‘The Town’, we can see a potential Batman. i.e. a man with a dark side, internal conflicts, skills and strategy. A man who beats up bad guys and knows when to stop, who does what is right under pressure, who doesn’t care whether he is considered a hero in the eyes of the world or not. — Noman Sahib, you are dangerously negative in your thinking and your blog post is unfair.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    To all those butting their heads against the blog writer’s door for being demeaning to Jennifer Lopez, pls note that she has insured her own posterior for $27 M – @Noman Ansari is merely reporting on her own valuation which is available in the public domain. Second, I would find questions like How many Oscars have you won? really funny if they weren’t so silly. If only Oscar winners could comment on other Oscar winners and so on, media as we know it would not exist at all. Of course, I disagree with the premise of this article – Superhero films are highly dependent on the quality of the script and the vision of the director (more than other genre), and good actors, with half their face covered and growling below their voice, cannot possibly rescue a substandard product. Michael Keaton has acted in far more number of eminently forgettable films (I think, can’t really remember) than George Clooney, and the ridicule that the latter faced for Batman and Robin must be laid at the doorstep of Joel Schumacher. Also to reverse the argument on recognizable faces, the previous Joker, Jack Nicholson, was also the most recognized face in the first Tim Burton’s Batman, and also walked away with the most applause.Recommend

  • N

    @ black jack

    Not about the $27 million,but the ‘larger than’ is ,not a gentlemanly remark.Recommend

  • Faisal

    Nice Funny Article – don’t find anything rude in it – chill out people – btw Kamran Akmal as Batman was awesome ! :)Recommend

  • Faisal

    i think all this criticism is actually giving him publicity and motivation to bring the best in him – i am now actually looking forward to this oneRecommend

  • Sab33N

    I thought the blog was hilarious. Kudos.Recommend

  • Mani Khawaja

    Janaab anyone who has been in a relationship with Jenny from the Block must have undergone enough trauma to play Batman hahaRecommend

  • Bharat

    I think Ben Affleck is a good choice for Batman.He has the personality looks, built,height, intelligence for the roleRecommend

  • Bilal

    “Batman” and no Christian Bale, are you kidding me.
    Who can perform better than him as batman.Recommend

  • Rayan

    Highly misleading title….Recommend

  • choclet

    a futile attempt to be a stand up comedian! n at what length!!Recommend

  • UHS

    @Noman Ansari

    Keep in mind that Ben Affleck can’t be worse than Kilmar and Clooney, so lets keep our fingers crossed.

    And yes, I do agree with your point that casting a relatively new actor would have been a better choice just as it worked for Henry Cavill in Man of Steel.

    In my personal opinion, Michael Fessbender is the best choice of role of caped-crusader. Too bad, he’s already Magneto in another universe.Recommend

  • Grammarian

    LOL!!!!
    I am your new biggest fan!Recommend

  • kanwal

    @author
    “In 2001, Ben Affleck starred in the Michael Bay film Pearl Harbor, which sadly was a bigger tragedy than the actual historic event the movie was based on. ”

    Sigh. you write nice stuff. I really liked the list of the potential Batman candidates you gave. But why do you have to write at rate of at least one offensive line per blog? Does anyone else also have a problem with this above line i have quoted from this article? This is downright awful. Recommend

  • Dr Dang

    “Ben Affleck starred in the Michael Bay film Pearl Harbor, which sadly was a bigger tragedy than the actual historic event the movie was based on”. REALLLY ?
    Noman, do you really think that over 2,400 dead Americans are better than a bad movie ?Recommend

  • Hera Iftikhar

    This was hilarious! Well-written. Ignore the ignorant comments of most of these couch feminists.
    “Morgan Freeman” “An actual bat” KILLED ME! Hahaha.
    Not only all this…but Ben Affleck cannot compare to the eye candy that is Christian Bale. As a female fan…I could cry at the casting choice.Recommend

  • Amna Hasan

    Joseph Gordon Lewitt should play Batman. He would’ve been perfect. Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari
  • Noor

    @ Hera Ifthikar

    ..’couch feminist’…?!
    Your comment doesn’t reflect well about you…Recommend

  • Old is gold

    @ Noman Ansari

    Would ‘pain in the neck’ be a better choice than ‘butt’…Recommend

  • Love you,E.T.

    Dear E.T.

    I think you got the spelling in the title wrong… It’s Oprah Winfrey..not Oprah Winfery..Recommend

  • Chunky Lafanga

    What all you pseudo-fans of the franchise need to realise, is that the Batman portrayed by Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Trilogy is NOT the real Batman. It is a Batman from another timeline/universe, portrayed in The Dark Knight graphic novels, which the original creator of the Batman series had nothing to do with. That particular Batman lives and dies with those graphic novels. The REAL Batman is more akin to the character that Michael Keaton played in the first two films.

    The Batman that collaborates with Superman in the comic books is a different Batman altogether. Hence, a different actor to play the character.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @Chunky Lafanga:

    I’ve got news for you.

    None of them are actually ‘real’. Recommend

  • Chunky Lafanga

    @Noman Ansari:

    Touche, although I trust you understand my point.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Check out my previous blog on Batman. I get what your are saying.

    That being said, if we are going to stick to the original interpretation then Batman would be wearing grey and a black underwear outside. Characters evolve. Recommend