Bad man for Batman but...

Ben Affleck (above)

My favourite Batman of all time is Michael Keaton, star of Tim Burton's Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992).

When he was cast as the Caped Crusader, comic nerds went bananas.

Where is his jaw? Where are his muscles? He was Mr Mum!

Of course, there was no Internet in those halcyon days, so no one really gave a damn about what nerds said. The movies went on to be hugely popular, and Keaton was a big part of their success.

Intense, cagey and scrappy, the rat-faced actor has so far been the only Batman who's actually resembled a bat. The character was shadowy and mysterious, even a tad mystical. He didn't look like a US Marine; he didn't need to - he's Batman!

There was a storybook quality to Burton's Batman films that I adored, and Batman became very important in my life for a time.

I actually ended up buying a Batman promotional standee that I displayed in my bedroom. What was I thinking? Best not to contemplate. At any rate, he was MY Batman.

Over the past week, there's been another kerfuffle over another Batman.

When it was announced last Friday that Ben Affleck would be taking over the role from the superb Christian Bale, who helmed Christopher Nolan's rebooted Batman trilogy, the Internet shrieked.

Anti-Affleck petitions were posted and duly signed. Some joker even started a petition on the White House website, begging the US government to pass a law against Affleck playing the role.

Armchair casting directors hit Twitter to put forward their suggestions for superior Batmen. Postman Pat? Dame Maggie Smith? I myself suggested Vanessa Hudgens or a raccoon. Yes, I am part of the problem.

Affleck will star opposite Henry Cavill in Batman vs Superman, which is due for release in 2015, and all the complaining in the world probably won't stop it. The Internet has indeed given dorks a voice, but it's also given Hollywood an amazingly powerful promotional tool.

The nerd rage and manufactured hype sort of cancel each other out. It's all just Internet noise, and people will end up going to a movie because it seems cool, or not going because it seems lame.

I absolutely hate the idea of Affleck playing Batman, but not because he's a "bad actor" or "not built". I don't want him to play Batman because he's just so impossibly mainstream.

He's much too respectable for me, the rebel that I am. I don't want the earnest fellow who directed Argo anywhere around the Dark Knight.

Here's the thing, though. Absolutely everyone but Burton was wrong about Keaton, and the dude ended up being an important hero for me at a time when I needed a hero.

I guarantee you - GUARANTEE - that Affleck's Batman will play a HUGE role in some little boy's childhood. I just pity this kid when he hits the Internet to read up on his new favourite super, and wades into a sea of bile.

"What's wrong with all these people?" he'll wonder. "Batman rocks."


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