Given that Ben Affleck will never, ever cite Daredevil as his favourite movie experience (even though he worked with his future wife, Jennifer Garner), the news that the Oscar-winning Argo filmmaker will soon play the Caped Crusader in the upcoming Batman-Superman production with director Zack Snyder was more than a little surprising.
But Affleck, who remains one of Hollywood’s hottest directors and is about to start shooting his adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel Live By Night, might not be the most unusual pick to play Clark Kent and his crime-fighting alter ego in the history of the DC Comics franchise.
Comic book fans pilloried Tim Burton for selecting Michael Keaton for the lead role in 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns. But the movies were huge hits, and Keaton was more than up to the part.
In 1995, Val Kilmer took over the title role for director Joel Schumacher, and things didn’t turn out quite as well. His Batman Forever was commercially successful, but critically drubbed.
Of course, George Clooney’s Batman & Robin was the franchise’s low point. By far. Schumacher’s S&M take on the series in 1997 was a disaster on every level, and nearly killed the entire franchise. It also briefly derailed Clooney’s career, but gave the actor a lifetime of jokes about the prominence of nipples in his Batman costume.
In 2005, director Christopher Nolan cast Christian Bale in the lead role, and the results were spectacular. Not only were Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) embraced by reviewers, but they were also among the most successful releases in modern box-office history.
In a statement announcing Affleck’s casting opposite Henry Cavill as Superman, Snyder said, “Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’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 retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne.”