Regardless of what a recently uploaded YouTube video might suggest, Ben Affleck really has nothing to be sad about. The verdict for Dawn of Justice might be as divided as night and day, but one thing a lot can agree on is just how god damn good he is as the god damn Batman.
Admit it, you had your doubts. No matter how long ago Affleck’s dance with the Daredevil may have been, and how many stellar performances and directing efforts he delivered since there was still a pocket of filmgoers he had to satisfy and it’s safe to say he’s done so. Therein lies the lesson that many of the Hollywood elite have learned; if you want to make a comeback, comic book movies are certainly the way to go.
As well as Batfleck, here’s a handful of others that have gained some cred by dabbling in the dominating comic book genre that you kids love so much.
Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool
With a career that has been as unpredictable as the asinine assassin he portrayed this year, Ryan Reynolds finally took on the role that the world knew he was born to have with Deadpool and we’re all the better for it. Following his dreadful debut as the character in Wolverine: Origins and his god-awful go at Green Lantern, Reynolds finally returned to take the role of Wade Wilson and the result was better than anyone could’ve predicted.
Much like the majority of people that made this list, Reynolds’ comeback is such a success due to his love and respect for the character he took on, and it shone through every offensive, uncouth comment that fell from his Freddy Krueger like-mug. As so proudly revealed in the films Ferris Bueller-based credit scene, a Deadpool sequel is most certainly on the way, but don’t be surprised if a bundle more roles come knocking at Reynolds’ door now he’s taken on the role.
Mickey Rourke – Sin City
Slowly reigniting a career in the early 2000’s that the world had forgotten about, it was Mickey Rourke’s turn as Marv in Robert Rodriguez’ Sin City that put him back on the map. Charging his way down the blood-soaked streets of Frank Miller’s crime-noir landmark, Rourke’s take on the ham-fisted bruiser made him one of the most favoured characters of Basin City and led him on a path to a career-defining role.
After wearing enough prosthetic to fill a wax museum, Rourke shed blood, sweat and tears in The Wrestler, leading to cheers from the crowd and a nice shiny Oscar for his troubles. He may have taken some hits as Randy the Ram in Aronofsky’s Academy Award-winning film, but it was the first few jabs as Marv that he got his groove back. He, of course, lost it later thanks to his wasted turn as Whiplash in Iron Man 2, but hey we can’t have everything.
Nicolas Cage – Kick-Ass
Proving that there really aren’t enough comic book movies to go around for everyone, Nicolas Cage (like Affleck, Reynolds and Evans) has dabbled in various comic book character roles, but only one really stuck better than the rest. Besides his cancelled turn as Kal-El in Tim Burton’s Superman Lives and two losing laps as Ghost Rider, one role that Cage brought the right amount of crazy and sorely missed talent to was in Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, when he showed us who the Daddy was.
Gradually coming accustomed to roles that he was simply phoning in, Kick-Ass asked a bit more of Cage and he answered the call by way of the bat-phone, and the voice of Adam West. Without even being asked, Cage modelled the vocal pauses…in…speech to the similar tune of the 1966 Batman TV show and the result is cinematic gold. He was a character you quickly learned to love which made Hit-Girl’s failed rescue mission all the more heartbreaking when we had to say goobye to him.
Colin Firth – Kingsman: The Secret Service
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before; Mr Darcy walks into a pub, and no one else leaves in a conscious state. Such is jaw-dropping, cracking and snapping result displayed in Kingsman: The Secret Service courtesy of another great piece of work from the minds of Matthew Vaughn and Mark Millar, and the pristine punches thrown by Colin bloody Firth in an incredible turn for the (comic) books.
After a slight dry spot post-Oscar win for A King’s Speech, Firth took the daring role of Harry Hart and became one of 2015’s greatest heroes in the process. On paper, it seemed almost farcical to think that the man who stole Bridget Jones’ heart was going to be Her Majesty’s most lethal weapon, but Firth brought the familiar bravado and unquestionable Britishness that only he could deliver and cracked some skulls in the process. Proving that manners really do maketh man and fitting the role like a freshly cut suit complete with Oxfords (not Brogues), we don’t care how he comes back in Kingsman 2, just do it or the pug gets it. Kidding.
Robert Downey Jr. – Iron Man
Top Contender for Comeback Supremacy and King of the Marvel Cinematic Universe whilst we’re at it, Robert Downey Jr. taking the role of Tony Stark is the easily the greatest comeback in film history. First off, the pick for the part is damn near perfect; just as to Reeve is to Superman and Jackman is to Wolverine, RDJ is the man in the iron suit for now and forever. The whip-smart responses, that perfectly groomed facial hair, and the sheer levels of smug oozing from every pore belonging to this billionaire philanthropist make it perfectly understandable as to why he’s Marvel’s poster boy. There’s really no contest.
Rarely playing well with others and stealing any scene he shares with them when he does, RDJ not only took on a career-defining role as Tony Stark but led the charge in what has been the most ground-breaking franchise in modern cinema. Take a bow Mr Downey, sir. You’ve earned it.
Chris Evans – Captain America
It may be hard to believe but there have been occasions besides Ben Affleck cast as Batman where comic book fans didn’t agree with the casting choices studios made. Crazy, I know. One such choice was giving ex-member of the Fantastic Four, Chris Evans another crack at a superhero gig, only this time as Steve Rogers aka Captain America. The rest, as they say, is history.
From the off, Evans taking the role of Marvel’s most patriotic do-gooder is as great a pick as well, RDJ as Tony Stark, which makes their rivalry so enriching. Evans brought the honourable Super Soldier to life in a wonderful fashion, eventually becoming the man out of time who made him the right choice to lead the Avengers into battle. The question is whether he’ll be able to keep that title when the eagerly anticipated Captain America: Civil War hits screens, and we finally get to see that bubbling feud with his good frenemy boil over. Watch this space, kids.
Kevin Costner – Man of Steel
Sometimes a comeback in comic book movies doesn’t necessarily come with superpowers, or a fancy suit and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Take Kevin Costner, for example. A Hollywood icon who had his fair share of success in the late 80s and early 90s, it was playing the surrogate father to Superman that made us remember just how great he could be thanks to his appearance as Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel.
Okay, so as is apparently a new tradition for a character in Zack Snyder comic book movies, Pa Kent’s motives might have been slightly different from the original character, but that didn’t stop Costner delivering the goods anyway. Costner’s Jonathan Kent was a man desperate to protect his son from a world that he was uncertain would accept him, and it was a defence he stood by until his final moments. When it came to screentime, it was Russell Crowe’s Jor-El that got most the attention in Man of Steel, which was a shame considering how Costner handled things. The good news is Costner also (spoilers) got some screen time in Dawn of Justice which made for a nice surprise. We sure do miss you, Pa.
Michael Douglas – Ant-Man
Continuing in the magnificent mentor choices Marve have made over the years, one recently wonderful addition to the ranks was Michael Douglas in Ant-Man. Seemingly heading down the path of phone in roles like so many others, Douglas proved he still had a hefty dose of talent to drop into Marvel’s size-shifting heist movie as the original Ant-Man.
Following the astounding aid of CGI with his first appearance in the film, Douglas proved it wasn’t all movie magic bringing Hank Pym to life as he passed the suit to his protege, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). A dash of wise elder and a smidgen of a grumpy old curmudgeon, Douglas gave a terrific turn, marking an anticipated return to the MCU when Ant-Man and Wasp arrive on the scene somewhere down the line.
Ben Affleck – Batman
And here we are at last, the most recent turnaround of a star shunned for one role only to find redemption in another. Ben Affleck really is Batman, and he’s a great one, at that. What separates him from the rest? The simple fact that he might not just be a great Batman, but also a good Bruce Wayne well. Sure, Keaton took the title, to begin with, and Bale did an okay job (albeit one that required a truckload of throat lozenges), but Batfleck is so good because of the weight that his predecessors have brought to it.
Almost as coveted as James Bond, Bruce Wayne’s Dark Knight alter-ego is a job that has only got tougher with age, and Affleck wears it well. Playing more Wayne than a nocturnal warrior in Dawn of Justice, the actor, writer, director delivered enough goods in his debut that we want to see more when the Bat flies solo in his own film. He has the smug squillionaire part down, standing toe-to-toe with Clark Kent and unlike other Caped Crusader’s can strike fair and a painful-looking fist to any baddies that cross him. Ignore the sounds of silence Ben, we can’t wait to see the Dark Knight return.
Anyone else you can think of that has made a comic book come back, or perhaps you have a favourite on the list? Sound off in the comments below.