If you act poorly in a superhero film, you’ll have a hard time getting back the good graces of the internet. We’re such a obsessive, bitter crowd that Robert Downey Jr. could order coffee in a weird way, and we’d have thousands of the same memes up about it in the same hour, lasting for the next six years. So it surprises me and excites me that Ben Affleck, once loathed for his performance in things like Daredevil and Pearl Harbor, is now so lauded as a film maker.
Ben Affleck proved hope right. He truly rose above hate.
Ben Affleck, as an actor, is fairly inconsistent, and usually falls somewhere between “adequate” and “intensely unable to do his job.” In the aforementioned Pearl Harbor, he took it upon himself to create a satire of the entire event. How would a national tragedy look if the main character was entirely unconvincing throughout it, he asked himself, and he went on to find out. The answer? Not great.
Later, he took on the role of Matt Murdock, better known to the people who found this article through the Google search “daredevil” as Daredevil. In the pantheon of superhero films that suck, Daredevil is often forgotten because it’s not bad in an outrageous sense. Tobey Maguire doesn’t manage to dance once in it, and Halle Berry didn’t even show up to the script read-through.
It doesn’t have a supremely terrible aspect to latch onto, so nerds can’t really get behind it enough to hate it with the intensity that they hate things like Spider-Man 3. For a nerd to hate something, they need a line they can twist around or a specific scene that they can Photoshop. Daredevil lacked those, and is primarily swept under the rug, to make room for more critiques of TOM HARDY’S HILARIOUS BANE VOICE.
He was also in a few decent Kevin Smith films, but, until recently, only about three people had ever seen those movies, and two of those people were Kevin Smith. He had the starring role in Gigli, which proves that following your artistic dreams, despite adversity, might actually be a terrible plan. We all liked Good Will Hunting, but not a lot of that liking was for his performance, rather for his screenplay and direction of the film. It was an oasis in a desert of Daredevil, and it seemed like Affleck would never escape the only role he seemed good at: Guy Who Probably Shouldn’t Have Starred In This Movie.
The first actual exposure I had to Affleck as a director was with The Town, a fantastic 2010 crime thriller about a team of heist-pulling criminals and their efforts in not having their heist-pulling stopped. It was an amazing movie, and Affleck wasn’t that bad in it. Sure, Jeremy Renner stole the show in a great supporting role, but Affleck was decent. For once I wasn’t mocking his awkward movements or that weird gaze he does when he’s trying to look like he’s thinking about something.
After seeing The Town, I tracked down Gone Baby Gone, and took a look at that. Once again, I was impressed. I remembered being disappointed with The Departed, because, despite it being directed by Martin Scorsese, it felt like a cartoon’s idea of what a crime movie was supposed to be. I then watched Gone Baby Gone, and thoroughly enjoyed how everything seemed real and almost relatable.
Now, I’m a North Carolina guy who’s closest brush with crime came when I started crying on the way home from Toys R’ Us at four, when I pulled out the Godzilla figure that I’d stolen, but the portrayals of the lifestyles of criminals and police in Gone Baby Gone seemed more plausible to me. The world was a world that I could imagine actually existing, rather than a world that, while based on a real place, was invented to thrive in a film.
His latest movie, Argo, was very cool. I’m not going to spoil anything about it, but don’t let any reports of historic inaccuracy ruin the experience for you. It’s a great thriller, and one of my favorite films of 2012, probably second after Expendables 2. But honestly, what can beat Jean Claude Van Damme being unable to pronounce the word “challenge”? I challenge you to find something better.
A short time before Argo was released, it was reported that Ben Affleck had been offered the chance to direct the Justice League film, a movie that will cost a billion dollars, give or take a few more billion dollars, and make back infinity times that last number. This could’ve been Affleck’s chance. The internet and nerd-dom had scorned him for so long for his role in Daredevil and all of his other movies. He could now turn it around and make a kickass Justice League movie, the biggest movie in DC film history.
But, when asked about it, Affleck said no. He was not going to direct the tale of Batman and Superman shaking hands. Whether or not he was offered the film in the first place is a null piece of information. Just the fact that he said “No” when asked about it, without a hint of enthusiasm for maybe, one day, directing the League’s debut, is powerful statement enough. Ben Affleck doesn’t need a Justice League movie. He doesn’t need to make up for Daredevil.
Thanks to Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo, Ben Affleck rules. I can’t wait to see what he does next.