by Natalie Finn | Sat., Aug. 24, 2013 5:00 AM
Who knew that two little words (Ben Affleck) paired with one other B-word (Batman) would have such a polarizing effect?
Warner Bros. had already revealed that the Caped Crusader would be joining Superman in director Zack Snyder's follow-up to Man of Steel, so all that was left was to find the actor who could pull off both a tux and a cowl.
The studio must have thought it was a no-brainer casting Affleck, who couldn't be hotter thanks to Argo and all the good will he drummed up by not being nominated for a Best Director Oscar.
But judging by how fast #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck started trending on Twitter after the big reveal last night, someone who makes a whole lot of money must be somewhat confused as to why some people are so incensed over the idea of Affleck playing Batman.
Will the backlash—including a Change.org petition with, ahem, nearly 25,000 signatures stating that he's "inappropriate" for the role—actually affect anything?
"Absolutely not," says Matthew Belloni, executive editor at The Hollywood Reporter, which has been closely monitoring the craziness. "This is happening. He's signed on, they put out a press release, he's in this movie."
But while Belloni tells E! News that Warner Bros. will not recast another actor, the studio may be drawing up a contingency plan as far as publicity and marketing goes, to present Affleck "in the best way possible."
Warner Bros. Entertainment.com
"This happens all the time," he says. "Fans go crazy when there's a casting that they don't agree with. Then as the movie comes out they kinda switch their feelings. I think this is a very, very early time to say this is a disaster."
It would perhaps be a record for premature disaster-labeling.
But, Belloni acknowledges, there is "something like 70 percent disapproval of this decision" on Twitter and "people are going crazy...Overall, the reaction has been negative."
"That said," he adds, "on a lot of these big movies the casting is initially negative and then people kinda change their minds as they see how things play out," Belloni says. "But initially they've got a little bit of a problem here."
"First and foremost," he explains, "there's people going on Twitter and talking about he's not right for the role. He already played Daredevil, which some people see as a crossover, and they can't really get it into their heads. To a lot of fans, once you've played a superhero you can't go and play another superhero."
Of course, social media isn't always an exact arbiter of public tastes. For instance, major buzz doesn't always equal major box office.
"I think this movie is going to be a hit," Belloni tells us. "I think ultimately, when people see the product, they will come around and Ben Affleck ultimately will be a good Batman."
Yet with #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck continuing to trend, the man himself remains silent.
"I don't think it's that odd" that Affleck hasn't said anything, Belloni says.
"The studios like to manage these announcements and these press releases get written very carefully," he adds. "He'll do an interview with some favorable magazine where he'll talk about it. What's interesting is that he does have this movie [Runner Runner] coming out...and the first question out of everyone's mouth will be, 'What about Batman?'"
Runner Runner is due in theaters Oct. 4. Here's hoping the Bat Signal lures Ben out in the open long before then.
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