Poor Ben Affleck. No matter how many Oscars he wins, or how much of a nice guy he seems to be, people just don’t seem to tire of beating him with a stick. He’s been slowly and emphatically climbing his way back to the top of the cinematic A-list ever since the spectacular career low point that was Gigli, and now all that hard work has been undone by one announcement: He’s Warner Bros new Batman.
Admittedly, the Oscars were for writing and directing, not acting, but no-one can deny that he’s been proving himself over and over again as an actor in the last few years. And he was never really bad. He was just in bad films. No-one blames the failure of Daredevil on him – in fact, he was one of the film’s few saving graces.
Personally, the idea of Affleck as an older, experienced Batman who’s been doing this shit for a lot longer than Henry Cavill’s Supes is pretty exciting. And his is hardly the first Batman casting to create a fandom shitstorm. Back when Tim Burton cast Michael Keaton as Batman, Warner Bros received 50,000 letters of complaint – proof that fans were loud and opinionated even before the birth of social media. The Beetlejuice joker just wasn’t serious or heroic enough for Batman. Christian Bale’s skinny, British Batman didn’t provoke a hell of a lot more love. And, on the voice actor side of things, can you imagine the reaction when Mark Hamill was initially cast as the voice of the Joker? Try reading Joker dialogue in anyone else’s voice now.
Here’s five pieces of comic book casting that set the internet into a blaze of outraged fan entitlement – and left us all eating our words.
5. Robert Downey Jnr – Iron Man
He might have been getting his career back on track with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Zodiac, but when Robert Downey Jnr was cast as Iron Man, he was still mostly known for doing his body weight in drugs and spending time in the custody of the state. His Oscar nomination was a very distant memory. And this was the guy to play Iron Man?
The internet was alight with comments including:
“Frak that sucks.”
“Falling off the (band) wagon.”
“THAT’S TOTALLY STUPID!”
Of course, Robert Downey Jnr is now one of the most famous people on the planet, and his charismatic performance as Tony Stark – which was at least 50% responsible for the immense charm of that film – essentially made the Marvel Cinematic Universe a viable prospect. The whole nerd community breathed a sigh of relief when he recently signed on for more Avengers movies.
4. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine
Why the hell was a 6’2” Aussie cast as comic books’ most famous short-arse Canuck? The fans were even more incandescent with rage when it emerged that he was at the time appearing as Curly in Oklahoma!. Nothing says ‘berserker rage’ like a tap dancing interlude, after all.
Fans went into the movie determined to hate it. The costumes were all wrong. Wolverine was all wrong. The film was going to be dreadful. (Apart from Picard as Professor X – we could all agree that that was going to be awesome) But from his first cage-fighting appearance, and his first snarling snikt, the fans were silenced. And by the time he dropped his first “bub” in the final act, who wasn’t a convert?
With his seventh appearance as Logan looming, an Oscar nomination under his belt and an all-singing-all-dancing Oscar host job on his resume, it’s now hard to imagine that there was ever a time when the world didn’t know who Hugh Jackman was. In his own (sung) words: “I’M WOLVERIIIIINNNNEEEE!”