Sam Sattin thinks there are better things for Ben Affleck to be doing in Hollywood than playing one of the most iconic superheroes in comic book canon.
Affleck. One of those names that, when you hear it, tends to conjure little more than a puff of ‘meh.’ It’s not like you intended this reaction. It’s a simple matter of Pavlovian reflex. You might feel compelled to issue a mirthless admission of self-censorship so that you don’t offend your friends who see in the 41-year-old Berkeley-to-Boston transplant what you cannot.
Such an effort might approximate, “I mean, I liked The Town a lot. And he was fine in Good Will Hunting, I guess.” But then, for a lot of us, no matter what we do, no matter how many times we watch Argo and try to convince ourselves that Affleck’s performance was any better than Roddy Piper’s in They Live, one word continues to resonate from that part of our brains where we store and sublimate unpleasant memories, decisions we wish we could unmake. DAREDEVIL. That affront against humanity. DAREDEVIL. The red-eyed offense against nature that we wish we could bury in the Arizona desert and hope aliens don’t hold us accountable for championing when they excavate it in 3006.
Reflecting upon my vapid response yesterday after hearing the news, I had to wonder, however, what it is about the casting (or in this case, miscasting) of a superhero that ignites such a powder keg of emotion in our culture? Right now the Middle East is pretty much being swallowed down the gullet of hell, Europe’s economy is collapsing, and President Obama is wrestling the GOP Manticore (Republidon?) in the senate. Twitter buzzes all day long with prognostications on the fate of the free world with an admixture of idiocy and relevance that redefines hysteria for our times. But then, in one second it is decided that Ben Affleck, the fucking guy from Clerks, will play an older Batman in Zack Snyder’s sure to be lackluster sequel to his already offensive first installment, and we lose our collective shit.
Maybe this is because superheroes are larger than life. Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman, Spider-Man—cultural symbols, every one. They make up the fabric of our country’s national identity, and some people, a lot of us, are uncomfortable with having that national identity portrayed by the guy who played Bartleby in Dogma.
But if there’s one bit of good that can come from this is, Affleck’s casting as a seasoned Dark Knight may prevent Val Kilmer from setting up a tent on Christian Bale’s front lawn. That and it might save Affleck himself from unnecessary humiliation. The guy can direct a solid film. Let’s just keep him out of the cape and cowl. For the good of society.
Like superheroes? Read Sam Sattin’s new novel, League of Somebodies, available from Amazon.
Lead photo: AP/Nathan Denette