The bat-lash has begun.
Ben Affleck hasn’t even been sized for a bat-suit and already, fans are crying foul.
Yesterday, Warner Brothers confirmed that the multihyphenate celebrity and Oscar winner will play the latest reincarnation of Bruce Wayne-cum-Batman, who will face off against Superman in the sequel to this summer’s Man of Steel.
But the news has not been well-received – or at least, those against the decision are choosing to be especially vocal about their disapproval.
A change.org petition to have Affleck removed from the role was well on its way to garnering the necessary 2,500 signatures before being sent to executives at DC Comics and Warner Brothers.
On Twitter, the disapproval is being served up with an extra kick of snark. Some are using the hashtag #batfleck. Others have caught on to #BetterBatmanThanAffleck and are suggesting alternatives. To wit, a parody account of the Harry Potter anti-hero Professor Snape is obviously partial to Alan Rickman.
Movie trivia buffs will remember that Affleck has already played Superman – albeit in a roundabout way. In Hollywoodland, a 1950s-era film from 2006, his character George Reeves is the titular star of the television series Adventures of Superman.
But those in the anti-Affleck camp are quick to point out how the 41-year-old actor tanked in Daredevil. Of course, that film dates back to 2003 – the same year that Affleck appeared in another stinker, Gigli, opposite Jennifer Lopez. Together, the films reflect poor decision-making rather than falling short of superhero potential.
The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin sticks up for Affleck as Bruce Wayne. Pointing out Affleck’s string of successes over the past decade, both as actor and director, he writes, “He is handsome, popular and talented, and his star is once again in the ascendant. The more you think about it, in fact, the more obvious it seems: Who on earth would Warner Bros cast in their 2015 summer extravaganza if not their golden boy?”
Also in the pro-Affleck camp is the British edition of GQ. Writer Oliver Franklin makes another valid point: “The most important thing to remember is a simple one: this isn’t Christopher Nolan’s Batman.”
Like Man of Steel, the sequel will be directed by Zack Snyder and will once again feature British actor Henry Cavill as Superman. As ordinary humans, Cavill is 10 years younger than Affleck.
Warner Brothers is not going to cave to the backlash. If anything, the people who make the decisions are probably marveling over the ease with which social media has galvanized reactions – for better or worse – to the decision.
But you have to wonder how Affleck now feels about assuming the part. The daunting part will not be following in the footsteps of Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and, most recently, Christian Bale; the stunts and codpiece come with the territory. The toughest part will be proving his dissenters wrong.
The film is set to hit theatres in July, 2015.