Why Ben Affleck didn't want to be Batman ... almost did his dash as superhero Daredevil. Photo: Getty Images
The big screen’s controversial Batman-to-be, actor Ben Affleck, has revealed he turned down the coveted role in the upcoming blockbuster Batman vs Superman when it was first offered to him.
Speaking for the first time about the almost unprecedented fan backlash that greeted the news he was to play Batman, Affleck said his first reaction was to say no.
‘‘I told them I didn’t see myself in the role and I was going to have to beg off,’’ he said. But Warner Bros persisted, asking him ‘‘to look at what the writer-director, Zack Snyder, was doing’’.
Ben Affleck as Daredevil and Jennifer Garner as Elektra.
What he saw, Affleck told Playboy magazine, was ‘‘incredible. It was a unique take on Batman that was still consistent with the mythology. It made me excited.’’
Affleck – and Warner Bros – are hoping that excitement is enough to overcome the tidal wave of fan disapproval unleashed when they announced he would don the cowl of the ‘‘caped crusader’’.
Fans of the Batman franchise – comic books, TV series and films – vented their fury on social media, and launched petitions demanding he be replaced.
On top of that a humiliating Twitter hashtag, #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck, suggested everyone from Meryl Streep and Steve Buscemi to the inflatable autopilot from the film Flying High.
It was a rare hostile stance for fans of a long-running film franchise where re-casting the lead role has become the norm.
Past Batmans have included Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale. Of those four, Bale’s performance in The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) is the one most-loved by fans.
‘‘I understand I’m at a disadvantage with the internet,’’ Affleck said.
Much of the criticism of Affleck’s casting focused on his role in Daredevil, the 2003 film adaptation of the comic book in which he played the much-loved superhero. It was panned by critics and derided by Daredevil fans.
‘‘If I thought the result would be another Daredevil, I’d be out there picketing myself,’’ Affleck said. ‘‘Why would I make the movie if I didn’t think it was going to be good and that I could be good in it?’’
Affleck concedes Daredevil remains, for him, a personal regret.
‘‘It just kills me,’’ Affleck said. ‘‘I love that story, that character, and the fact that it got f---ed up the way it did stays with me. Maybe that’s part of the motivation to do Batman.’’
Affleck goes into Batman vs Superman with several things in his favour.
The first is that the cast of the film was recently expanded to include Wonder Woman, to be played by Israeli model and actress Gal Gadot. She joins Affleck and Henry Cavill, who will play Superman.
That indicates Warner Bros is hoping to use the film as a superhero ensemble, rather than either a Superman or Batman film, which takes the pressure off Affleck.
In doing so, Warner is trying to use the film in the same way Marvel has used the cast of its individual superhero films in the ensemble film series The Avengers.
Affleck is also going in aided by his box-office pull: his last two big films took almost $US400 million ($439m) worldwide and his overall box office in the past 16 years is more than $US2.5 billion.
Batman vs Superman opens in July 2015.