Ben Affleck Responds to Fan Outrage at Batman Casting for the First Time
When Ben Affleck was cast as Batman, the complaints were virtually endless. Criticisms included "too old," "too hairy," "not ripped enough," "terrible actor," and "too cuddly." Out of the 96,088 tweets released within the first hour of the news breaking, 71% were negative. The hashtag #betterbatmanthanbenaffleck began trending almost immediately, and suggested replacements included Paula Deen, Ben Affleck's mom, the pope, Hello Kitty, "the drunken hobo that lives under the overpass," Meryl Streep (who was predicted to win an Oscar in the role), and a No. 2 pencil. Fans even started a petition calling for the White House to denounce the decision. Despite the fact that Affleck was fresh off of a huge career coup with the success of Oscar winner Argo, many Batman enthusiasts couldn't get past his involvement in Gigli, widely considered to be one of the worst movies of all time, and more importantly, his universally despised performance as Daredevil.
Now, for the first time, Affleck has directly addressed the controversy, giving a diplomatic response that is confident but gives a lot of credit to the filmmakers: "Before I took the role, Warner Bros. gave me a bunch of past reactions to casting and said, 'Are you sure you want to get into this? This is part and parcel of these movies now. There's a lot of active fans with a lot of opinions.' To me, having been through a certain amount of that, it doesn't really… Everyone's entitled to their opinion. I wouldn't have taken the part if I didn't trust my instincts in terms of the filmmaking. I think Chris Terrio wrote a terrific script. Zack's a great visual director. And there's an interesting take. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't think I could do it. I have the benefit of a lot of that understanding."
He related the hubbub back to the general trend of casting choices for movies with built-in fanbases meeting with fan outrage; most recently, the casting of Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey illustrated that fans will get wildly upset when the chosen actor doesn't fit their mind's-eye image of the character. "Everyone is entitled to their opinion. That's a big part of this international sport. The Fifty Shades of Grey kid or whatever it is. That's sort of become a thing... It's great that people do care that much. They want to see the movie that much. And it is incumbent on you to honor the story. There are the Greek myths and these are the American myths. The American myths are these superheroes. People care about 'em a lot. And it's incumbent on you to do a good job and make it as excellent as you possibly can. At the end of the day, the movie's all that matters."
Also, as a bonus, he made a funny to Entertainment Weekly about preparing for the role: "I can tell you that every time I do a role, it's the responsibility of an actor to get their physical self as close to the role as possible. And Batman's obviously got a set of expectations that are tough. So I spent a lot of time working out. And it's a far cry from Gone Girl where my character is described as 'puffy and hungover.' I want you to know I worked equally hard at both!"