Views: Ben Affleck and The Batman Inquisition

Fanboys protest Ben Affleck as the new Batman, the Dark Knight.
Ben Affleck as the new Batman is the subject of heated and funny online memes.

When news broke last week that Zack Snyder had cast Ben Affleck in his upcoming turbo-charged, sure-to-be-a-blockbuster, Batman vs. Superman, alongside Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel, it instantly became quite clear that not everyone was happy. In fact, more than simply upset, the fanboys and girls who now seem to control the film blogosphere were devastated, responding with the same vehemence with which others have attacked the Syrian chemical strikes.

Those in favor of Mr. Affleck, including fellow actors, Josh Gad, Matt Damon, Patton Oswalt, and Joseph Gordon Levitt, quickly came to the beleaguered star’s defense, but it was not enough to drown out the cacophony of criticism. Spouting the typically thoughtful rebuttals that now inundate social media, (aka. sophisticated stuff like Afflleck stinks!, Daredevil sucked so bad!, or the best one: Snyder and his new Batman don’t really understand the character!), these online caterwaulers have not only high-jacked the entire debate, but stand to seriously neuter the creative process even more than they already have.

Don't hate! Fanboys' dissapointment in Ben Affleck before he even films the next Batman movie, can be too much.
Don’t hate! Fanboys’ disappointment in Ben Affleck before he even films the next Batman movie, can be too much.

Now, the other side to this Batman casting – our BNH view:

The real argument here is not whether Affleck can do it (to that effect we say he’ll be fine, though we do understand the opposition’s presentation of Dardevil as exhibit A), but rather just how much these vituperative critics are starting to sound like the implacable Christian right. Armed with misinformation and a know-it-all, superior attitude that alienates all who aren’t as ardent as them, they spew any venom that they can in deference to their point, refusing to take things like truth, eloquence, or respect into account. And what’s worse is that similar to crazy zealots like Pat Robertson, who claim to understand the Word of God better than everyone else, these highly vocal fantasy fanatics act like they alone get Stan Lee, or Tolkien, or in this case, DC Comics.

Henry Cavill as Superman stars opposite Ben Affleck's Batman in the new franchise.
Batman casting meme, featuring Superman star Henry Cavill.

Now let’s be clear, no one is questioning, or ridiculing the passion of these die-hard Batman believers. We’re sure that @GothamWarrier or @CapedCrusader40 grew up on the comic books, as well as the Adam West series. There is no doubt that they spent their 20’s pouring over the myth of the Dark Knight, and even now, well into middle age, are happy to discuss the transcendent merits of Tim Burton’s films, and of course, those of the spectacular Nolan trilogy. But hey, a lot of religious zealots read the Bible everyday and most rational people don’t consider them to be any closer to the ear or more importantly, mouth of God.

Which brings up a pressing point here: Hey fanboys, who the f made you all Batman Bosses? Or, for that matter, Lord of the Rings bosses, or Game of Thrones experts? What ever happened to people enjoying a story and taking from it what they choose, or participating in in it on their own terms, without judgment or comments from the peanut gallery? The best thing about The Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight screenings (one of the original examples of near-religious devotion to a piece of pop culture) were that they were all-inclusive, safe zones where one was free to “worship” as they chose, becoming part of a fan experience that was about love and inclusion, not criticism and superiority.

There are plenty of die-hard LOTR fans who loved the books, but found the films to be a bit too long, or a slew of Game of Thrones devotees who feel that while the show is well-done, it can often be a bit overstuffed and tone-deaf to the behavior of women, and yes, there are numerous tried and true Gothamites who respect Zack Snyder, Ben Affleck, and the rest of the Batman vs. Superman team enough to hold their opinions until they see the final product. But alas, these fans are accused of not participating “properly” or not fully understanding the crux of these pieces.

Angry fanboys do not accept Ben Affleck as the next Batman.
The backlash over Ben Affleck as Batman: Should Fanboys calm down and let the creative process take place?

Just because you scream louder, or have the time to sit on your computer and sign petition after petition, spreading ill-informed negativity, does not mean that you’re a bigger fan, or in this case a definitive master on the Caped Crusader. Like all experts of a particular myth (some would say religion falls into this), you just happen to know a story better than others, not necessarily the real truth behind it. Perhaps if these rapidly-increasing, incessantly-vocal groups engaged themselves more in the happenings on Earth rather than what’s occurring in Westeros, or Middle Earth, or Gotham City; or perhaps if they dedicated the inspiration that they feel from these epic stories towards use of their own imaginations, instead of simply criticizing, Earth might be a bit more exciting to them.

Who’d have thought that funnyman Josh Gad would have put it best when responding to the controversy: “If we could apply (the) same logic and courage to issues such as global warming, mass shootings, health care, the budget crisis, and all of the other major crises staring us in the face, perhaps we could start making a dent.” More than a dent, we could actually begin bringing about our own Golden Age; one in which we finally confront the issues facing our own planet. But hey, we’re not expecting miracles. It would simply be nice to see the creative process flourish once again, unmolested, and for these increasingly bellicose online fanboys to simply take a deep breath and shut up for a minute.

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