Time to put the controversial Ben Affleck question to rest: Was it the right call to cast him as Batman? You bet! He’s got the right slim but muscular build for the Caped Crusader, he’s got the handsome face for Bruce Wayne and the big head to go well with the Bat mask. And when Affleck’s called upon to fill his character with self doubt or to make it clear that he’s ready to blow a gasket over his hatred of Superman, he shows off his acting chops. That last part shouldn’t be a surprise. People who have accused him of being wooden onscreen haven’t seen “Good Will Hunting” or “Boiler Room” or “Hollywoodland,” and they must have skipped “Gone Girl.” Give him a good script, and this guy can act! “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” has a good script, as well as a good director, cast and story. Affleck could hardly miss. He spoke about the film and his dual Batman/Bruce Wayne roles last week in Hollywood.
Q: When you first heard about this film, did you think it was a crazy idea to pit Batman against Superman because Batman could never win that fight?
A: I didn’t think it was crazy because when I was a kid I had read the Frank Miller comic “The Dark Knight Returns,” where Superman fought Batman. I thought it was original and interesting, and it turned the genre on its head. It was a morally gray sort of story, and it changed the way I saw comic books. When I heard that was the idea of this movie, I thought it was brilliant because it’s one of the great ideas of comics that hasn’t been mined yet for films.
Q: What was your process for creating your version of Batman/Bruce Wayne?
There was enough material in Chris Terrio’s screenplay, and with Zack Snyder’s direction, there was plenty for me to grab on to and use my imagination to try to build this character. It was certainly daunting, because of the people who have played him before. There’s that element of healthy respect that you have for the project and the characters and their history. But, I felt that I was in really good hands with Zack and with the script, so that was where I focused my attention.
Q: Can you speak about portraying the dualities of Batman and Bruce Wayne?
A: Zack often said that he thought Bruce Wayne was kind of a mask for a character that he put on, as much as Batman was. I liked the idea that Bruce Wayne AND Batman were both messed up people who were engaging in unhealthy behavior at night as a result of psychological scars they bore from childhood. That duality was something that was really interesting to explore.
Q: Why do you think Batman remains so popular?
A: I think one of the reasons the Batman character has resonated with audiences since the FDR administration, regardless of the way the country has changed and the way pop culture has changed, is because you have a guy who on the one hand is powerful and exciting and can do things that we all wish we could do, but he’s also still a human being, struggling with his own vulnerabilities and who accomplishes things by force of will. That was fun to play. I think I tapped in equal measure into my adult geekness and my kid excitement for this movie.
Q: You’ve done well with directing “Gone Baby Gone,” “The Town,” and “Argo.” Would you like to try your hand at one of these big action movies?
A: I learned a lot from Zack on this movie. One of the really valuable things about it for me, aside from the personal experience of playing the part, was watching a guy who really understands how to make films on this level, with cutting edge technology and all the tools at a director’s disposal. Seeing how Zack evolved those into the movie with a consistent vision was great. I’d wondered about directing movies like this before, and it was a great learning experience for me to see how Zack did it so that if that day did come, I’d have picked up a lot of valuable information. So if I found the right material, I would definitely throw my hat in the ring to direct something on this scale.
Ed Symkus writes movie reviews for More Content Now.
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” opens on March 25.