Why the Hate for Batfleck?

The other day I finally had the opportunity to watch Batman V. Superman Ultimate Edition.  I've seen Batman V. Superman multiple times, but the Ultimate Edition has added and extended scenes in it that I hadn't seen yet.

Watching it I started wondering about something.  It bothered me so much so that the next day I brought it up to a friend/co-worker of mine named Johnny.  I knew he, like myself, was a fan of BVS. So I posed the question to him that had bugging me.  "Did you like Ben Affleck as Batman?"  He came back with a pretty astounding affirmative.  Now the reason I asked him, and the reason the question was bugging me, was I was too.

So why the hate for Batfleck?

Johnny and I had a pretty good discussion on the matter.  He brought up some new points of view that really opened my eyes.  It didn't change my opinion.  I liked Affleck as Batman, but they kind of helped hammer it home.

Since Ben Affleck was announced as the Caped Crusader I remember it being met with a lot of negativity.  I chose to wait until I saw the movie to hold judgement on how good his Dark Knight was, but others did not.  People were in an uproar.  I found that a lot of it stemmed from another superhero movie he was in: Daredevil.

Now Daredevil was another movie that I really didn't mind.  Was it the greatest superhero ever?  No. Did it deserve to go down as the worst ever?  Not in my opinion.  Sure it had it's faults, but really what movie doesn't?  Something a lot of moviegoers are quick to point out I might add.

Here was my philosophy on the Daredevil subject and what I told most people when I told them I didn't mind Ben Affleck being cast as Batman and they would said "What about Daredevil?"  First I explained my previous point.  I didn't mind Daredevil.  I then pointed out the fact that Ben Affleck is a different actor than when Daredevil was made.  He'd grown up as an actor.  To the point he was a completely different actor than when he was in Daredevil.  The man had won awards since then. Something that doesn't sway my opinion of anyone, but seems to hold weight for others.  Finally Daredevil can't be blamed solely on the actors.  Yes, they are a part of why the movie works and why it doesn't, but there are a lot of other factors in play.  Direction.  Script.  Other actors performances. Factoring that in I can't blame Ben Affleck for all that was wrong with Daredevil.  A point that all those people seemed to forget when finding out about his casting.

I didn't really think about Daredevil while watching Affleck as Batman.  I actually thought he did quite a bit of justice to the character.  I thought he did a great job in Batman's duality.  Distinguishing Batman from Bruce Wayne.  The part at that Library Benefit where he acts tipsy and tells Lex that the only reason he showed up was to "drink him dry" was a master stroke.  He made it seem that Bruce didn't care to be there when he actually did.  Which showcased another Batman feature I enjoyed about Batman V. Superman.  Batman was a detective in it.

BVS showed Batman doing what Batman does best.  Being a detective.  Affleck in my opinion made it believable too.  Playing to the tunnel vision Batman has while on a case.  He talks about interrogating street level thugs, all to find out who the White Portuguese is and the object the Portuguese has.

In a less obvious note I think that Affleck accentuated some of Batman's less likable features.  I got the sense of pain from the loss of his parents in the way Affleck played Bruce.  The scared, hurt little boy that grew up to be scared, hurt man running around dressed like a bat.

He snide comments with Alfred were great, not only because Alfred fired back with a quick retort, but the idea that he was keeping Alfred at arms length due to the pain he's felt throughout his life.  It was subtle but I think was done well.  Something I don't think is easily performed.

No point showed Batma's vulnerability than the scene that everyone seems to condemn, the climactic "Why did you say that name?" scene. Most thought it cheesy and a far stretch at a resolution to the Batman versus Superman fight, but I think differently.  It shows to me the affect that Superman has on Batman when he inadvertently shows Bats how alike they are in the fact that their mother shares a name.  Batman, with so much hate against Superman, realizes how human Superman actually is when he finds out that their mothers share a name.  As cheesy as it seems, I find it believable.  Batman is that frightened little orphan deep down and all it would take was something small like "Martha" to get him to reassess his situation and the purpose he had.  I think Affleck pulled that struggle off perfectly.

I think a lot of people have attributed a lot of Affleck's performance to other things they didn't like about the film.  Things I've heard from people that talk about why they didn't like Batman V. Superman.  The biggest thing?

"But Batman killed!"

One: That wasn't really Ben Affleck's decision.  That was Zack Snyder's and the other writers decision.  Ben Affleck just played the character the script dictated.  You can't really blame him for that.  Most people will because they don't see the men behind the movie.  You tend to blame the face of the problem.  In this case it's Ben.

I on the other hand tend to overlook this problem.  Not because I like the idea of Batman killing, I don't.  I tend to overlook it because of other portrayals of Batman.  When hearing how great Michael Keaton was as Batman I don't hear about him dropping a bomb between someone's legs or slamming a guys head into a bell and letting him fall down a shaft.  Those tend to be overlooked because everyone loves Keaton as Batman.  Myself included.  I just tend to give that same benefit to everyone.  In this case Ben Affleck.

On a side note, my friend Johnny brought up an interesting take on the issue of Batman killing in BVS.  He said that he thinks, and I tend to agree, that Batman changed after the death of Robin.  He became more devoid of feelings to hide his pain.  Much like a young Bruce did after the death of his parents.  As an adult it got turned up a notch.  In this case dropping his killing rule.  He feels after losing Robin that it may be justified.  It doesn't make me like the idea of Batman killing any more than before, but I can accept that thought.  I tend to believe the events of Batman V. Superman will help to bring him back a little bit.

He also brought up the idea that the character changed to appeal to a different generation.  This also helped me accept Lex's character as well, but that's a different Blog.

The Batman that 1989 needed was different to the one that was needed today.  Unfortunately today he had to deal with a world that likes to nitpick movies apart instead of just enjoying them for the good things.  I'm not saying you can't dislike a movie, just let the little things slide.

So do I believe Ben Affleck's performance perfect.  No.  Do I believe it's good.  Yes.  While thinking about this for the last week or so I believe it's one of my favorite performances of the Dark Knight.  It wasn't perfect, but it was up there in my opinion.  To me he was a pretty dang good Batman.  He was able to portray Batman's strengths and flaws without throwing them in your face.  That to me is a good actor.  Not everyone is going to live up to everyones expectations of an iconic character like Batman.  Ben Affleck doesn't top my list of great actors, but I like him as Batman and am excited to see what his next outing brings.