Last night, the internet ERUPTED with NERD RAGE
just as it does when anything meaningless happens when Warner Bros. announced that in the sequel to the surprisingly solid Man of Steel, Batman will be played by none other than BEN AFFLECK.
Just as fanboys flipped their shit when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, Twitter and Facebook lit the fuck up with furious, panicked admonitions about how terrible the casting was, along with some impressively lazy jokes about (A) Matt Damon being Robin or (B) Batman and Daredevil now being the same person. The difference, though, is that now—in part thanks to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight frown-porn trilogy—everyone on the planet is now a Batman fan. Ideally, this cultural shift would make public discourse about such urgent matters less annoying and trivial, but instead it appears that everyone on the planet has decided to start emulating whiny fanboys. THANKS, INTERNET.
To solve this problem—to decide, once and for all, if the casting of Ben Affleck was a good idea—the Mercury's two biggest Batman fans, myself and Bobby Roberts, will now have a point/counterpoint debate. We're going to solve this shit, so that you can shut up about it. YOU'RE WELCOME, INTERNET.
ERIK HENRIKSEN: POINT: It's a safe bet that anyone complaining about Batfleck hasn't seen Extract, Argo, The Town, To the Wonder, Gone Baby Gone, or anything else Affleck has done in the past decade. Affleck will make a great Batman—not only does he have enough self-respect to avoid repeating Christian Bale's ridiculous "angry muppet" voice, but he's also smart enough to have learned to play up his charm and intelligence without getting bogged down in the smarminess that marked some of his early roles. And Affleck—like his pal Damon, and like another Batman, George Clooney—has figured out that the best career route in Hollywood is to only attach oneself to projects that have the potential to be legitimately good, even great. For me, Affleck coming on board Man of Steel 2: This Time Featuring a Character People Actually Care About is a better indicator of the film's quality than either Nolan or Zack Snyder's involvement.
Alternately, sure, Affleck could have just said fuck it and taken tens of millions of dollars to put on a little mask—but even if that's the case, I'm still pretty sure he'll be great. He'll probably be a little less preposterously serious than Bale, which will definitely be welcome, but also a little more grim than Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, Clooney, or (god bless him) Adam West ever were. Sounds like a good middle-ground to me.
BOBBY ROBERTS: POINT I will let director Joe Carnahan address the throng of complainers who took to Affleck's exposed ankles last night like a ballpit full of Langoliers:
Would I be happier if Affleck was directing? Sure I would. But having the guy who wrote a Best Screenplay and directed a Best Picture peering over Zack Snyder's shoulder can't hurt, right? At the very least, it's a brilliant mental image: Snyder looking over his shoulder. Oscar-Winner Batman staring back. Snyder gulping, pulling at his Tap Out V-neck with his index finger, trying to figure out how to make a movie that isn't airless and hollow to some degree.
It's not like Affleck has to carry the movie. He's a supporting character. It's a sequel to Man of Steel, with Batman in it. Affleck usually does pretty decent work as part of an ensemble. For example, here's a scene from Boiler Room, aka Diet Glengarry Glen Ross, sweetened with Ribisi!
This sequel will still be Henry Cavill's movie. Affleck just has to play opposite him while looking good in a Batman costume, hopefully without sounding like his tongue is an ocean, poured into a fishbowl mouth. If Kevin Costner can essay a good performance in a Zack Snyder movie, I don't know why Affleck couldn't.
It's just remarkably strange, the froth of ground teeth and spittle that foamed up on Twitter and Facebook almost instantly. It's so knee-jerk that if you'd told me a cartoon doctor had hit Twitter in the knee with a rubber mallet, I'd have believed you. Hollywoodland exists as proof the man can put in a nuanced performance. Not that we need all that much nuance: It's fucking Batman. Further, it's a Batman inspired by Frank Miller's conception of the character, meaning the dramatic range starts at "God" and ends at "Damn."
Would I still prefer Jeffrey Dean Morgan, or Josh Brolin, or Idris (Michael) Elba (Fassbender)? Probably. But Affleck isn't the same actor that was the bomb in Phantoms, yo (ugh), and 2013 is not 1998. There's been a lot of time, and obviously, a lot of growth on Affleck's part. There are lots of things to worry about if you care to expend the effort actually worrying about a Superman movie with Batman in it. There's the fact Snyder is still directing, and David S. Goyer is still writing. There's also the fact that there isn't a finished script and the movie is already set to open in the summer of 2015. But worrying about Ben Affleck damaging the glory of the Goddamned Batman seems really low on the—
EDITOR WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY: COUNTERPOINT Uh, huh... very interesting, or how about this? GET BACK TO FUCKING WORK. All of you! It's one thing to watch Erik and Bobby masturbating into a sock—they didn't even notice that their "point/counterpoint" didn't have a fucking counterpoint!!!—but this idiotic, useless argument is just further proof that "nerd culture" is DEAD. And you all killed it, with your stupid, pathetic, corporate ass-sniffing. Think DC cares if you think Ben Affleck would be a good Batman or not? They don't. You fell right into their insidious marketing trap to promote this ridiculous children's movie, AND lost a day of actual more important work in the process. SO. On behalf of every employer in America, shut your fucking mouths, put away your baby toys, and GET... BACK... TO... FUCKING... WORK. (Jesus Christ, you people.)