Comic book fanboys woke up Friday morning to jarring news: Ben Affleck, the star of Argo and more importantly the awful superhero film Daredevil, would be the new Batman in a sequel to this year's Superman movie, Man of Steel.
There are a few reasons why fanboys should put away the razor blades and harsh Twitters messages for just a moment.
Those of us who read the books know that Superman and Batman have developed a unique, compelling relationship, perhaps pioneered by comic legend Frank Miller in his Dark Knight series. The pair are do-gooders and polar opposites: Batman, the cynical loner who distrusts everyone; and Superman, the earnest hero who believes in the essential goodness of man.
So the news that Affleck would play the Dark Knight in the sequel planned for 2015 left some wondering: Have DC Comics and Warner Bros. figured out a way to derail the new Superman franchise just as it was getting started? But I'm nothing if not a cautious optimist.
So here are four reasons why Ben Affleck might not be a bad Batman.
He's a better actor.
Watch him in Armageddon, at the height of his poster boy fame, and you see an actor who has largely gotten by on a charming manner and dazzling good looks. In Argo, his heroic jawline hidden by a scruffy beard while playing an absentee dad struggling to pull off a heroic rescue in Iran, Affleck is more compelling working with less. The open question is: Can he pull this off in a movie he doesn't direct?
He has something to prove.
One thing he hasn't managed in a pretty amazing movie career is starring in a huge movie that was also critically acclaimed. Here, with Man of Steel director Zack Snyder at the helm and a distinguished resume filled with well-regarded, smaller films, Affleck has his best shot yet at pulling a Jack Nicholson, who rode Tim Burton's first Batman movie to new respect as one of the most compelling comic book movie villains in history.
He's working with a guy who knows how to make a comic book movie.
Snyder, who managed the seemingly impossible feat of reviving the Superman franchise for the 21st Century, is a guy who succeeds by respecting the storytelling roots of comics and delivering films that can appeal to both film fans and comic nerds. Affleck's turn in Daredevil was mostly hobbled by the fact that the filmmakers there didn't have the same connection to the source material, so they made a hash of a movie that wasted talents such as Colin Farrell, Jon Favreau, Michael Clarke Duncan and a certain son of Boston.
He is a pretty awesome filmmaker.
Certainly, he has learned a thing or two coaxing top-level performances from Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, brother Casey Affleck and John Goodman. Time to make those lessons work for someone else's vision.