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Ben Affleck as Batman: Roles that might inform Dark Knight portrayal

Ben Affleck, photographed in 2010. The actor has been cast as Batman opposite Henry Cavill's Superman in the upcoming "Man of Steel" sequel. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez in his 2012 Oscar-winner "Argo." (Claire Folger / Warner Bros.)

Ben Affleck, right, plays George Reeves in the historical drama "Hollywoodland." George Reeves became famous for his performance as Superman in the TV series "Adventures of Superman." Jeffrey DeMunn, left, and Diane Lane also star in the film. (George Kraychyk / Focus Features)

Ben Affleck, left, and Jeremy Renner in the crime thriller "The Town." (Claire Folger / Warner Bros. Pictures)

Ben Affleck, right, and Bruce Willis in the blockbuster hit "Armageddon." (Touchstone Pictures)

Batman fans aren’t exactly applauding the news that Ben Affleck will be the next actor to portray Bruce Wayne on the big screen.

Despite Affleck’s twin Oscars and chiseled jaw, Thursday’s casting announcement for Zack Snyder’s sequel to “Man of Steel” was more commonly met with shock and dismay, especially over social media, where superhero enthusiasts tweeted their displeasure and made alternative casting suggestions using the hashtag #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck.

The news was surprising to say the least, but then again, so was Heath Ledger’s landing the role of the Joker (remember fans calling for a command performance from Jack Nicholson?) in “The Dark Knight,” and Anne Hathaway’s casting as Selina Kyle in “The Dark Knight Rises.” In both instances, the actors demonstrated keen instincts for the DC characters. Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his mesmerizing turn.

With Affleck’s less well received performances in such movies as “Gigli” and “Jersey Girl” in the rearview mirror, the actor recently has demonstrated some qualities that suggest he just might be capable of a successful turn in the cape and cowl.

Click through the gallery above for a look at each of the roles that could inform Affleck’s take on Bruce Wayne and his vigilante alter-ego.

“Armageddon” (1998): In Michael Bay’s big-budget action flick, Affleck plays A.J. Frost, a blue-collar oil driller recruited to attempt a risky mission to protect the planet from an incoming asteroid the size of Texas. With a big assist from Bruce Willis, Affleck’s character saves the day (and Earth). Although Bruce Wayne is anything but blue collar, “Armageddon” surely prepared Affleck for a gig that will undoubtedly involve green screens, stunts and larger-than-life heroics.

“Phantoms” (1998): As Jay and Silent Bob could tell you, Affleck was the bomb in “Phantoms,” yo. In the 1998 supernatural horror flick, based on the book by Dean Koontz, Affleck plays Sheriff Bryce Hammond, tasked with sleuthing out the culprit behind a string of grisly deaths.  Batman, after all, is a detective with a cape.

“The Sum of all Fears” (2002): Affleck may be following in the footsteps of Christian Bale and Michael Keaton for the Batman role, but it’s not the first time he’s had big shoes to fill. In the action thriller “The Sum of All Fears,” based on the Tom Clancy novel, Affleck played CIA analyst Jack Ryan, an action hero previously portrayed by Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin. Plus, Morgan Freeman portrayed the CIA director. Perhaps Freeman can reprise his “Dark Knight” role as Lucius Fox and give Affleck a Gotham City tech assist?

“Daredevil” (2003): Affleck has some superhero experience under his utility belt thanks to his role in 2003’s “Daredevil,” based on the Marvel comic book series. He starred as Matt Murdock, a man who survived a bio-waste accident that left him blind but heightened his remaining senses and endowed him with “sonar-sense.” In the film, Daredevil used his special abilities to fight crime and take down mobsters. The role, along with “Gigli” and “Paycheck,” earned Affleck a worst actor Razzie Award. While the film was panned by critics, it opened at the top of the box office, eventually earning more than $179 million worldwide.

“Hollywoodland” (2006): The upcoming “Man of Steel” sequel might mark Affleck’s first turn as Batman, but he’s already played Superman… sort of. In the 2006 crime drama biopic, Affleck portrayed George Reeves, and Reeves, of course, played Superman in the 1950s television series “The Adventures of Superman.” Affleck’s performance won him a Saturn Award as well as a Golden Globes nod. (Bonus trivia: Diane Lane played Clark Kent’s adoptive mother in “Man of Steel” as well as Reeves’ lover Toni Mannix in “Hollywoodland.”)

“The Town” (2010): We know that Boston isn’t Gotham, but the crime-ridden city in Affleck’s 2010 drama may have provided some good antihero training ground for the future Batman. The dark-and-gritty film presents Affleck as Doug MacRay, who robs a bank with his friends and ends up falling for the woman they take hostage. Although he’s not exactly a vigilante crime-fighter, he is forced to live a life webbed with secrets and lies in order to protect those he loves, not unlike Bruce Wayne.

“Argo” (2012): At first glance, Affleck’s Tony Mendez in “Argo” might not have much in common with the Caped Crusader, but both characters maintain secret identities in order to help others. Affleck plays the real-life CIA exfiltration expert who posed as a Hollywood filmmaker in an attempt to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980. “Argo” netted Affleck a best picture Oscar and helped spotlight a true hero who wore a beard rather than a cowl.

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | Google+


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