Earlier this year Ben Affleck finally achieved his dream of not playing Batman. In total, Affleck’s career as the caped crusader spanned three movies—Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, and Justice League—each of which he seemed less happy to be present for than the last. Though general critical consensus is that Affleck did the best he could with the material provided, the entire process of being the Batman made Affleck very sad. Eventually, the burden of being Bruce Wayne may even have played a part in him getting that truly terrible tattoo.
The worst part of Affleck’s Dark Knight ennui, though? All of it could have been avoided had Ben just listened to his pal, George Clooney. In a podcast interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Clooney reflected on his own regrettable experience as Batman, and the advice he gave Affleck regarding the role while working together on Argo.
“I actually did talk to him about it. I said, ‘Don’t do it,’” said Clooney. “It was only from my experience, which is, you know…He did great, though.”
Clooney, you’ll recall, played Batman in Batman & Robin, a.k.a. the one where the Batsuit has nipples. That movie is most memorable for a blue Arnold Schwarzenegger delivering baffling cold puns as Mr. Freeze, but Clooney said he took most of the heat from the movie’s failure:
“Schwarzenegger was paid, I think, $25 million for that, which was like 20 times more than I was paid for it, and, you know, we never even worked together. We worked together one day. But I took all the heat. Now, fair deal; I was playing Batman and I wasn’t good in it, and it wasn’t a good film, but what I learned from that failure was, I had to rethink how I was working. Because now I wasn’t just an actor getting a role, I was being held responsible for the film itself.”
Save for a band of weird diehards, most people put the burden of the failure of the DCEU’s Batman-adjacent films not on Affleck, but director/producer Zack Snyder. In fact, given Affleck’s late-career turn having more success as a director than as an actor, many were optimistic about what Affleck could do behind the camera for The Batman. Alas, Affleck has exited that film now, both as star and director, thereby removing the cowl for good. In all, Affleck’s time watching over Gotham was better than some and worse than others. Still, it’s hard not to imagine he wishes he hadn’t been such a dumbfuck and just listened to George Clooney.
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