Late last night, Warner Bros. made the announcement that Ben Affleck would take over for Christian Bale in the role of Batman in the "Man of Steel" sequel, likely to be called "Batman vs. Superman." The move came as a shock to many, as Affleck's name was missing from the rumor mill in terms of possible actors for the job.
Here is the statement from director Zack Snyder on Affleck:
Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry [Cavill]'s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retains the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can't wait to work with him.
The news seems to be as divisive as Snyder's first Superman movie. Many, including myself, held out hope that there was a chance that Bale would reprise his role from Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy. However, that interpretation of the character has passed and both Nolan and Bale made statements in the past that they were done with the franchise.
The new film's Batman has been rumored to be an older and wiser version of the character – a dark knight who has been through many years of crime fighting. Affleck certainly has the stature and the look of Bruce Wayne/Batman (Affleck is 6-foot-3 according to IMDb) and his recent work, especially in "Argo" has given me some hope moving forward. He is also about 11 years older than Cavill, which will make for an interesting dynamic on screen.
Bale's performance in the past three Batman films will be a tough act to follow (especially when he turned in his best performance in the latest installment, "The Dark Knight Rises"). There is also the riskiness of rebooting the character too soon. "Batman vs. Superman" is slated to premiere on July 17, 2015, while "Rises" premiered on July 20, 2012 – a gap of less than three years. Putting that into perspective, many thought that Marc Webb's Spider-man reboot came too soon after "Spider-man 3", and that was a gap of about five years. There are still many moviegoers who hold Bale's performance pretty close to their hearts – and there is the memory of Affleck's only superhero role as Daredevil in the subpar 2003 film.
Personally, I'm taking a wait-and-see approach to Affleck as the Dark Knight. For me, it all depends on the type of story that Snyder and David S. Goyer come up with and the interesting dynamics that are possible in a confrontation between the two most popular superheroes of all time.
Originally published on August 23, 2013