By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 24, 2013 at 11:10PM
Ben Affleck is Batman. You could have knocked me over with a feather. (He didn't even land on our Batman poll, which was won handily by Michael Fassbender.) I liked Affleck as Jack Ryan. But not so much as Daredevil. (To his credit he turned down the sequel.) He will take over from Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne in the next Zack Snyder Superman-Batman feature now slated to open on July 17, 2015, that Warner Bros. announced with great fanfare at Comic-Con. Returning to the next “Man of Steel” movie are Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane.
Snyder approached Affleck months ago, reports THR. Affleck would not take on this role unless he had some say in how this script turns out. He will have a strong hand at Warner Bros., which backed him on "The Town" and the Oscar-winning "Argo" and is invested in telling the town he's sticking around the studio. Affleck signed for multiple pictures. If this works out he'll have a major franchise to play with for years ahead. And a major studio where he can hang his hat, as his hero Clint Eastwood has done for decades.
Affleck tends to do better as an actor in his own pictures--which are often smarter than average studio fare. He shared a screenwriting Oscar with Matt Damon, after all, for "Good Will Hunting." The irony: Affleck turned down directing "Man of Steel." And did fine as George Reeves, TV's Superman, in little-seen "Hollywoodland." The LAT looks at which of his past roles prepared him for this one.
He can do this. Fans are reportedly 70% against this casting, but they opposed Michael Keaton and Robert Downey, Jr. initially, too, as Batman and Iron Man, respectively. Joss Whedon, the EW cover man and Marvel's "The Avengers" writer-director, gives trending #Batfleck a thumbs up. While Affleck is still on board to star in David Fincher's "Gone Girl" opposite Rosamund Pike ("The World's End"), he's letting go of the remake of Guillaume Canet's "Tell No One" (based on Harlen Coben's book) and his adaptation of Stephen King tome "The Stand." ("Crazy Heart" writer-director Scott Cooper is picking up the rewrite.) Affleck is hanging onto his plans to direct Dennis Lehane's "Live By Night" at Warners.
According to Warner Bros.:
"Affleck and filmmaker Zack Snyder will create an entirely new incarnation of the character in Snyder’s as-yet-untitled project—bringing Batman and Superman together for the first time on the big screen and continuing the director’s vision of their universe, which he established in 'Man of Steel.'"
Warners is banking that Snyder's rebooted original story “Man of Steel,” which has earned more than $650 million worldwide to date, is the right way to go. But now he and writer David S. Goyer will bring the two DC Comics icons together in a story they created together, in effect importing Batman into Superman's world. Where will Clark Kent work, Metropolis or Gotham? They are two very different places.
“Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman," says Snyder. "He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.”
Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder are producing, with Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan and Wesley Coller serving as executive producers. Production is expected to begin in 2014.