Well, that didn’t take long.
Fans rained a torrent of criticism down upon the internet just minutes after Warner Bros. announced it had cast Ben Affleck as the next Batman in its upcoming Batman vs. Superman tentpole, with more than 30 petitions springing up on Change.com to remove the actor overnight.
With vitriol oddly reminiscent of the backlash to Heath Ledger’s casting as the Joker in 2008′s “The Dark Knight,” fans took to the web to condemn everything from Affleck’s star power to his acting chops.
“His acting skill is not even close to being believable as Bruce Wayne and he wont’ do the role justice,” said one anti-Affleck petition that drew 3,200 signatures. Another has over 6,000 signatures.
“He’s not built, nor is he intimidating enough for the role of Batman.”
An online petition on the “We the People” section of the White House Petition system, which “allows all Americans to ask the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country,” requested to make it illegal for Ben Affleck to portray Batman (or any super hero) on film for the next 200 years.
But the White House blocked the petition and removed it from the site for being in violation of their terms of participation.
Here’s what the petition looked like before it was taken down:
Reps for Affleck and Warner Bros. did not respond to requests for comment.
But why are there so many haters?
Fanboys may still hold a grudge against Affleck for his much-panned performance in 2003′s “Daredevil.”
The experience made Affleck swear off superhero films, and the thesp began focusing much of his attention behind the camera.
But Affleck has done something of a 180 with his career since his “Gigli” days.
His 2007 directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone,” caught the attention of then-film chief Jeff Robinov, who championed Affleck at the studio. Since then, the thesp has brought WB awards pics including “Argo” and “The Town,” both of which he directed and starred in.
Roles in those films and 2010′s “Company Men” also flexed Affleck’s muscles as a serious actor in a way that hadn’t been on display for years. And that muscle could be appealing to director Christopher Nolan, who took the Batman character down an increasingly darker path with his last three films (Nolan is exec producing the “Batman vs. Superman” pic).
Affleck lost one of his biggest champions at Warner Bros. when Robinov ankled the studio in June (the actor released a lengthy statement at the time), and a hit with “Batman” could help Affleck solidify his relationship with the new regime of top dog Kevin Tsujihara, Sue Kroll and Greg Silverman. ”I don’t know what I would do if Jeff weren’t there,” the actor said at the time.
Fan approval. therefore, won’t be the only thing riding on Affleck’s lycra-clad shoulders as he dons Batman’s cape.