Ben Affleck donned the cape for the first time in the blockbuster Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. It has now been confirmed by Warner Bros that Affleck will star in a standalone Batman movie with rumours that he will also write and direct. Is the studio on to a winner with the Oscar-winning actor, screenwriter and filmmaker or is the Caped Crusader in for a rough ride?
The fans have a keen sense when it comes to who steps into the boots of their favourite comic-book characters. And things did not start off well for Dawn of Justice when news of Affleck playing a tired, weary and seasoned version of Batman was met with a storm of indignation. And memes, lots of memes.
The audience recalled only too well the Daredevil disaster of 2003.
And Batman v Superman has not convinced them either. Zack Snyder’s directorial take on the Dark Knight hasn’t been a complete failure by any stretch of the imagination – it enjoyed an opening weekend of $422.5m - but the showdown of superheroes suffered a record-breaking second-weekend revenue drop of 81%. Expectations both in the studio and amongst fans were a little higher. It looks likely to earn $1bn worldwide, but you wouldn’t expect anything less for the first film to EVER feature the three most popular superheroes in history on the same screen. Critics and fans have not been kind to the movie at all, and will they be willing to risk a follow-up?
A glimmer of hope for the film is Ben Affleck’s reputation on the other side of the camera. Say what you will about his choices as an actor, but so far his work behind the camera has been outstanding.
The drama Good Will Hunting marked the start of his great career. He and Matt Damon not only played the main characters, but also won an Oscar for best screenplay. Other films directed by Affleck have included the thriller Gone Baby Gone and the gritty crime drama The Town – both of which he co-wrote and proved to be hits with audiences and critics.
The political thriller Argo, adapted from Tony Mendez’s book The Master of Disguise, was praised for its portrayal of the rescue of Americans from Tehran. It went on to win him another Academy Award for Best Picture.
Affleck has landed huge hits in the director’s chair and as a screenwriter, so why should it be different with Batman?
The main problem hinges on Affleck’s inability to avoid Hollywood turkeys. Films fans have simply found too difficult to forgive and forget. Films such as Surviving Christmas, Pearl Harbor, and Gigli proved disappointing for Affleck. Even highlights like Changing Lanes and Gone Girl can’t fully erase this impression left on some filmgoers.
Despite all this, the hopes for the new Batman are high. He has shown that he can deliver the goods when he is in the director’s seat. And if he can tie this to previous performances, that’s half the battle.
The big question is: can he deliver anything new to Batman that we haven’t already seen before? If he does manage it, the loyal but brutally critical fanbase will have nothing to fear from a future with Batfleck as their leader.