You know there has been a shift in the paradigm when the internet’s reaction to Ben Affleck’s casting as Batman in Man of Steel 2 makes international news headlines. I posted my initial reaction here, which is what I would describe as a cautious yet optimistic one. However, in light of the ridiculous over-reaction from the internet, not least the dick who started an online petition to have the studio change their mind (honestly, dude, you give us all a bad name!), I thought it only fair to look over some of the roles that made Batfleck a star and a leading man in Hollywood.
5. As George Reeves in Hollywoodland (2006)
Arguably the role that made everyone sit up and take notice again after his Bennifer crash and burn phase. The story of George Reeves, the actor with the honour of being the first onscreen incarnation of Superman in the ’50s, is a tragic tale repeated across the decades in Tinseltown. For all his fame and glory he died a lonely alcoholic in circumstances which to this day remain a mystery. Affleck is great as the doughy and damaged Reeves, playing his addiction and depression with a warm and delicate hand. It also gave him the unforeseen accolade of being the only person to play both Superman and Batman on screen. Take THAT, Nerds.
4. As Doug MacRay in The Town (2010)
Affleck’s difficult directorial follow up to his well received Gone Baby Gone was probably the weakest of his three efforts, but it still packed a punch as high octane action thriller. And as the conflicted Boston bank robber MacRay Affleck got to show his tough yet vulnerable side. A trait which Bruce Wayne has in spades. He also reminded the World he has the physical chops to play Batman.
3. As Bartleby in Dogma (1999)
Dogma is probably the most overlooked of Kevin Smith’s movies and yet it is, for me, his best work. Casting Affleck and Damon as two fallen angels trying to exploit a loophole to get back into heaven, all the while helping an abortion clinic worker, was genius. As a pair they work effortlessly, and while it may be Damon who has ultimately proven himself the more versatile and bankable star, Affleck proved that he can do black comedy and was, at the time, unafraid to take on roles in films likely to divide opinion. While his subsequent choices may not have supported that assertion, his more recent body of work is a reminder that he is an actor who doesn’t want to be pigeonholed.
2. As Chuckie Sullivan in Good Will Hunting (1997)
It may have been the film that showcased Matt Damon’s formidable acting talents but it was also arguably Ben Affleck’s finest pre-Argo performance. Bringing out his full Boston patter Affleck is equal parts charming and unlikable as Matt Damon’s foil. More importantly it shouldn’t be forgotten that for all of Damon’s accolades reciting the lines, Affleck was a 50% force in committing them to paper. Affleck may be a lot of things, but stupid is not one of them.
1. As Tony Mendez in Argo (2012)
The movie that made everyone utter the words we never thought we’d hear ourselves say: “Ben Affleck was robbed of his Oscar”. In spite of the weird mismatch of winning Best Picture but not Best Director, Argo finally made the World sit up and rethink their position on the long running punchline that Affleck’s career had become. It was a sobering reminder of just how long, hard and often unlikely the road to artistic redemption can be in La-La Land given the critical acclaim his previous directorial efforts had already received. But it was equally his performance in front of the camera as he weary and broken CIA Extraction specialist Tony Mendez that deserved the accolades. Broken, weary and battle worn? Sounds like someone else I know…
Sure there may be better performances over his career, but I don’t know that there are a collection that better showcase his ability to embody the traits of a certain crime fighting billionaire playboy.
Now chill the fuck out internet and save your collective breath for 2015 when you can base your vitriol on evidence rather than wild and frantic speculation.
Let’s not forget, he has more Oscars to his name than any other Batman…