Do you remember what you were doing or where you were when you found out that Ben Affleck was going to put on the cape and cowl? For me, being such a huge fan of the character it was a defining moment. I have invested a decent amount of my personal time into DC and its iconic Dark Knight. Between my collection, the films, comics, games, you put all these components together and it’s formed big part of my life and has helped form who I am today.
My day time job had me at an offsite workshop with a host of people, my phone was on silent on the table & I was focused on the deliverable at hand. Until my phone vibrated. My closest uncle sent me a text message saying, “Damian, you wont like this but Ben Affleck is the new Batman”. I’ll never forget reading that message. I gathered my phone, walked out of the room and replied back to my uncle asking him if he was joking. It wasn’t a joke. I was horrified and disappointed, that night when I got home from work I stalked the internet reading through the backlash from DC fans around the globe. I was about to digitally sign a petition against Affleck playing Batman and then I stopped.
I broke it down and had a look at his casting from a host of different ‘vantage points’ and came up with my own hypothesis on why I now believe it was a very smart move by Warner Brothers.
Don’t compare Daredevil with Batman
Plenty of fans fell straight into the trap of comparing Ben Affleck’s Daredevil movie to what he could possibly give us today with the Dark Knight. On the surface because that’s the only ‘superhero’ movie Affleck has delivered us, we look back and make a call on him here and now. Forget the fact that the movie wasn’t as popular as we all would have hoped for. People evolve over time, their job skills, their passions also evolve over time. It’s been a long haul for Ben Affleck between 2003 (when Daredevil was released) till now. That was eleven years ago and Ben Affleck is not the entertainer he once was, like a fine wine he has become better with age. His acting style, the scripts he has chosen, his shift to behind the camera, the list goes on. Everything has changed for him, you have to look beyond the fact that it’s the only superhero he has played. That was a different time, and I personally think that Affleck is proud and passionate about what he does and it has come out in his work. We are not getting the 2003 version of Ben Affleck playing Batman, we are getting the 2014 version. There is a huge difference!
Silence is deafening
It’s early days but I like the fact that we haven’t seen or heard much from Ben Affleck. This tells me he is focused on delivering the best possible performance within his power. I have seen plenty of times before actors and entertainers try to invest time and effort into promoting and building a motion picture. There is a time and place for each of these. Right now Affleck is building, and while most people out there probably want to see him, hear what he has to say about his experiences so far, I don’t. Focusing on one’s craft is critical to getting the persona of a character right and the longer we don’t hear from Affleck the better. Keep focused Ben!
Ben is a Fan
This is a simple one, Affleck has been a life long fan of the Dark Knight. One of the factors in him taking the role of Daredevil was that he believed there were similarities between the role he was playing back then and the Batman. It may have been the closest opportunity that he thought he was going to get to playing the character he has been a fan of throughout his life. In Ben’s situation, when you couple passion and industry experience together you may get a persona that is going to hit us like a steam train! He has been around the block several times now, he knows what it takes to have success in Hollywood and while the comic book industry is a different beast his passion for the character will play in his favour. Expect an all-conquering Batman.
Celebrate Failure, learn from it, and Grow
I work for an “Agile” organisation in my day job. One of the many philosophies we work by is that it actually is ok to fail. I tell my team this all the time. In some circumstances if we do not fail we are not trying hard enough. Ben has been a box office smash! He has been the man of the moment, and he has also failed and crashed. Hard! When we fail, it becomes a learning opportunity to sit back and consume the situation, the events that have transpired and take out what we could have done better. We draw on that, we store it and when the opportunity arrises we come out swinging. Ben Affleck may not have read the Management 3.o book on Agile methods but he has done all of the above. For a guy who hit the canvas pretty hard with some big budget flops, he didn’t permanently disappear into the darkness never to return like some actors have. He switched, he evolved, he went behind the camera and honed his craft developing some great films that won him awards and a host of brilliant reviews for his work. It put him back on the map, back in front of everyone. This guy has strengthened his craft and knows how to take failure and harness it.
Marvel Studios/20th Century Fox vs Warner Bros
With the ongoing success Marvel/20th Century Fox have enjoyed and the upcoming release of Avengers 2 they are currently holding DC/Warner Bros at bay. Man of Steel being the most recent Box Office attempt by DC was a solid film but it didn’t penetrate to the levels expected. Warner Bros would have looked at the current situation from various angles when appointing Ben Affleck as the Batman. Lets be honest, Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is the only franchise in the last decade that has brought in major coin for Warner Bros. You could say DC are a one trick pony, compare them to Marvel who have pulled in big dollars with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Avengers. DC are going to want Batman v Superman to be the launching pad that gets them off the canvas and go that final round (Balboa Style). Ben Affleck may be one of the secret weapons to help make this happen.
Last but not least – The Town
Ben Affleck in 2010 directed and stared in the award-winning motion picture, “The Town”. The movie was nominated for a magnitude of awards and took some silverware in the process. However that is not why it’s my last but most defining reason as to why Ben is going to be a great Batman/Bruce Wayne. Ben Affleck plays the character Doug MacRay who I think has similar traits to that of Bruce Wayne/Batman. I sat down to watch this film a few months ago (again) and studied the character Affleck played looking at how he could re-purpose some of the traits in the “Doug MacRay” persona and apply them to “Wayne/Batman”.
I broke down the character of Doug MacRay and we get taken on a journey of a man who is the brains behind a highly organised small team of bank robbers that have managed to hit banks hard leaving no trace for the authorities who are trying to track them down. I saw Ben’s character as having an alter ego in a violent, yet brilliant minded bank robber who dresses in a manner to scare and intimidate his prey by day. When his character was not orchestrating bank robberies, he was finding a way to deal with the love that he had felt for a woman who was a victim in one of his robberies. There is more to the story, but here we have a man who has two defining personas that he is battling with, one in which he doesn’t want to be a part of any longer. His struggle defines him and gives him purpose. Much to the liking of Bruce Wayne who’s alter ego is the Batman.
Doug MacRay and Bruce Wayne both struggle with their alter ego, they have a secret that forms the fabric of who they are and what they have become. Some secrets can destroy us, some can strengthen us. Their alter egos scare, and mentally paralyse their prey in different ways but the intent is closer than what you may think when you look at the two characters. They take hold of a situation with a well thought out plan, they have an agenda to fulfil and they get the job done and then disappear leaving little to no trace. If I was Ben Affleck putting a strategy together on how I would play the Batman/Wayne, I would be pulling the book out on how he played the role of Doug MacRay. In the great words of Agile advocate Jurgen Appelo, ‘steal and tweak’ Ben. Affleck’s role in the Town is very comparable to that of what he is now stepping into and it has some traits to it that can be re-purposed for an ageing Bruce Wayne/Dark Knight.
In 2016 we will see Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice and Ben Affleck will deliver a performance that we are not expecting. Something new, something ground breaking. I have faith in Ben, you should too.