Affleck or Bale? A Closer Look at What It Takes to Be Batman

Ben Affleck batman christian bale movies time warner
Touchstone/Getty ImagesBen Affleck in a scene from the 1998 film "Armageddon."

Only a handful of actors have been given the privilege of playing Batman. Last week, Ben Affleck joined a list that includes the likes of Adam West, Christian Bale and Kevin Conroy, who has voiced the character in animated features since 1992.

He'll join Henry Cavill, who plays Superman, in an epic that pits the two iconic superheroes against each other. Time Warner (TWX) plans to release the film in July 2015.

Many fans were outraged by the choice. "Christian Bale IS 'THE' BATMAN and I refuse to watch this movie even after it comes out on video," wrote one commenter to an article I published at last week. Another organized a petition asking Warner to reconsider its choice. More than 85,000 have signed as of this writing.

Tale of the Tape

Are fans overreacting, or is Warner taking a huge chance by asking Affleck to play one of its most valuable superhero brands? I'd argue the former after looking at the data.

Pound for pound, Affleck's credentials are about as good as Bale's:


Ben Affleck

Christian Bale

Films made



Lifetime gross (U.S.)

$1.67 billion

$1.91 billion

Average per film

$50.7 million

$61.6 million

Top-grossing film

($537.7 million worldwide)

"The Dark Knight Rises"
($1.08 billion worldwide)

Lowest-grossing film

"Glory Daze"
($15,134 worldwide)

"All the Little Animals"
($26,558 worldwide)

Academy Awards



Age / Height / Weight

41 / 6'2" / 200 lbs.

39 / 6' / 180 lbs.

Comic book films


"Batman Begins"
"The Dark Knight"
"The Dark Knight Rises"

Best-delivered line in a comic book film

"Hey, that light? At the end of the tunnel? Guess what? That's not heaven ... That's the C train!"-- from "Daredevil"

"You'll hunt me. You'll condemn me. Set the dogs on me. Because that's what needs to happen. Because sometimes the truth isn't good enough. Sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded." -- from "The Dark Knight"

Sources: Box Office Mojo, IMDb.

Meanwhile, Back at the Batcave ...

While it's tough to blame fans who remember Affleck in "Daredevil" -- moviegoers disliked the film even more than critics did -- investors have bigger concerns when it comes to 2015's Batman-Superman throw down. Funding, for one.

Warner is no longer working with Legendary Pictures, which had been its production partner for Nolan's "Batman" series as well as "Man of Steel." Now, the upstart studio behind "Pacific Rim" is working with Comcast (CMCSA, CMCSK) and Universal Pictures.

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In financing 100 percent of the budget for new DC Comics films, Warner stands to keep more of the profits from hits. But a bomb would also create bigger losses.

It's a bold strategy we've seen work well for Marvel Entertainment and Walt Disney (DIS), which also made waves when director Joe Johnston cast Chris Evans -- an actor known for his comedic timing -- to play a stoic super-soldier in "Captain America: The First Avenger." Audiences and critics responded well to the film, which earned more than $368 million at the worldwide box office.

Affleck could defy expectations similarly, but only if he's given the right script. Expect Warner and director Zack Snyder to do everything possible to give him precisely that.

Motley Fool contributor Tim Beyers owns shares of Walt Disney and Time Warner. Find him on Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool.The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool also owns shares of Walt Disney.

Originally published