Ever since last Thursday, the Internet has been railing against Warner Bros.’ decision to cast Ben Affleck in the role of Batman for 2015’s Batman vs. Superman. The backlash from the fans has been compared to the negative reactions from back in 2006 when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and Michael Keaton joined Tim Burton’s original Batman back in 1988. Almost immediately after the decision, fans began forming petitions to try and oust Affleck from the position.
But not every voice on the internet is critical of the choice. Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt took to his personal Facebook account to announce that he would be blocking the accounts of anyone who invited him to sign one of these petitions, and voiced his support for Ben Affleck in a thoughtful and eloquently written miniature essay. He praised Affleck for being able to rise above the perceived failures of his career’s early days, and cited that he believed that Affleck would be an excellent choice to portray the Caped Crusader, citing the example of the newer Batman stories. Here’s the essay for you to read, analyze, and enjoy.
“No matter how many times you post your stupid “Fire Ben Affleck from Playing Batman” petition, I’m going to delete it and block you. Take a deep breath, and think for a second:
Yeah, the dude’s made some bad films. Every actor has. Every actor does. Every actor will. It’s a huge, arcing career and NO ONE has control over where it goes. Movie to movie, year to year, you’re collaborating and trying and risking and, sometimes, yes — failing.
Plus, everyone seems to forget that he had the world dropped in his lap when he was YOUNG. And, judging by how other suddenly-famous youngsters do in the same situation, he fared pretty well. Even when it went wrong, he seemed to keep a self-deprecating, long-view philosophy about the burning freak carousel he’d found himself on.
And then what happened? I mean, he’d fallen from a HEIGHT. You know what happens to 95% of people who weather a descent that steep? They come apart, fray at all of their sanity nodes, and give up.
But then there’s the 5% who embrace crushing defeat and see it for the gift it is. And here’s the gift: when you fail, and fail UTTERLY, you wake up the next morning and see that the world didn’t end. And then the fear of failure is gone. And you’re free. You’re free to proceed on your own terms and pace — if you have the ego that permits you to.
Ben brushed himself off, realized he’d kept his eyes open on the movies he’d done, and started directing. And he’s become a damn good one.
A Batman portrayed by someone who’s tasted humiliation and a reversal of all personal valences — kind of like Grant Morrison’s “Zen warrior” version of Batman, post-ARKHAM ASYLUM, who was, in the words of Superman, “…the most dangerous man on the planet”? Think for a second and admit that Ben Affleck is closer to THAT top-shelf iteration of The Dark Knight than pretty much anyone in Hollywood right now.
I’d write more, but I have to go work on my post about how an overweight 44 year-old comedian with bad feet and insomnia would be a bold choice for The Joker.”
This post enhances my already firm respect for Patton Oswalt as a man. I’ve read some of his other essays, and he is a clearly intelligent and perceptive man, as well as an excellent writer. In an industry as cutthroat as the American entertainment industry can be, I’ll always be pleased to see examples of class and Oswalt certainly met the ticket here.
What do you think about what Oswalt has to say? Do you agree with his ideas? Why don’t you just tell us what you think in the comments below?