August 23, 2013

Affleck as the Batman

So Ben Affleck will be the next Batman, appearing in the June, 2015 sequel to this year’s Man of Steel. A few thoughts.

If I had my druthers, this next Batman-featuring film would not appear until the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batman trilogy was either no longer available or we’re all dead and buried. Each of those films held its own, and yet the three together formed a beginning, middle and end to the Batman legend, sweeping a long, well-acted and tightly directed narrative. Compare and contrast to all previous Batman films and Nolan’s three immediately rise to be the definitive film story of the Batman.

Yet alas, here we are two years from the MoS sequel that will re-introduce the Dark Knight. We must accept this. All is not lost, though.

Affleck’s recent work bore a subtle quality that might make him interesting as the Batman. His characterization of Tony Mendez, CIA case officer and orchestrator of the successful rescue of US diplomatic personnel from revolutionary Iran in Argo was criticized by some as dry, but in fact depicts the methodical and sometimes unorthodox activity of Americans covertly working throughout the world. James Bond, it ain’t. (See, too, George Clooney’s character Bob Barnes in Syriana.) Quiet, persistent, correct.

The Man of Steel sequel should, in my opinion, feature Batman as he appeared in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns comic, a decidedly different depiction of the crime fighter than most TV- and movie-Batman fans have ever seen.

Miller’s Bruce Wayne/Batman, a grizzled, older man retired from his secret life, is dragged back into the fight after being confronted by young street thugs in a Gotham gone to hell. During the course of Miller’s four-book series he encounters Superman in a confrontation all its own, one perhaps shocking to generations of TV and movie superhero fans. Super men can and do super-disagree. The results are often catastrophic.

A new movie-Batman should take the character in a new direction. Miller’s character fits the bill; we should hope his books influence the screenplay. Miller is reportedly consulting on this new film, so that may come to pass.

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