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Matt Damon is totally happy that his pal Ben Affleck is now Batman, right? Well, yeah, of course he is. Here's what he said when asked about the news by Times of India:
"I think it will be great. It will be terrific. I know there are a lot of people grousing on the internet. I just think it's kind of funny.
But wait! He didn't stop there. Talking about Affleck's credentials for the part and praising the films he's directed, Damon made a serious dig at the Bat himself:
You know, he's not playing King Lear. It's Batman! Certainly within his skill set. If anybody saw Argo or The Town, and all the work he's been doing lately, it's way more nuanced and interesting and way more difficult than Batman! Batman just sits there with his cowl over his head and whispers in a kinda gruff voice at people. Bruce Wayne is the more challenging part of the role, and Ben will be great at that."
Allow me to put on my comic book nerd hat and be totally outraged by this, and wonder who the hell Matt Damon thinks he is, after playing Jason Bourne and having to be badass with no special weapons whatsoever. What does he think isn't challenging about wearing a rubber suit and growling from underneath a mask that covers most of your face? Has HE ever thrown a Batarang with the same emotional complexity that he brought to, say, The Talented Mr. Ripley? Does Matt Damon even understand the acting chops required to pilot the Batmobile?
And now, to speak as a reasonable person… Matt Damon is mostly right, you guys. Being Batman, running around and kicking people and fighting crime, is mostly just about having the strong jaw and muscles to look reasonable inside the suit, and the willingness to get banged up in a few action shots. And being a convincing Bruce Wayne-- especially a Bruce Wayne who's different from the versions that Christian Bale, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Adam West played-- is incredibly tricky. But he's not totally being fair about what it takes to actually be under Batman's cowl. Plenty of actors-- see Clooney, George-- who are perfectly talented have looked totally ridiculous inside that mask, and it takes understanding how to ramp up your performance to match the costume, without going totally over the top, to make it work. To be honest, though Bale's raspy Batman voice really is what it would sound like underneath that mask, it was a little much. If Affleck really does want to distinguish himself as Batman, finding a way to be more compelling while in the suit ought to be the first step.
I hope Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have gotten together for drinks sometime in the last week and marveled at how insane their lives have been since winning those Oscars. And I hope that, in the months of preparation and the lifetime he'll spend talking about Batman, Affleck is able to acknowledge that, yeah, it's not King Lear. But it's not a cakewalk either. I think we all know the only way to sort this out for good: Jason Bourne vs. Batman fistfight. Place your bets in the comments.