Online campaigns against Ben Affleck playing Batman in a forthcoming movie have garnered over 10,000 signatures. The campaigns began after Warner Bros announced that the 41-year-old California-born star would succeed Christian Bale as Gotham City's masked hero.
Bale played the role over an enormously successful trilogy of Batman films (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises), directed by Christopher Nolan. The 39-year-old Bale has already confirmed he will not return to play Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting alter-ego.
Batman's next appearance on the silver screen will be in what is being billed as an epic superhero film - Superman vs Batman. The Son of Krypton will be played by Henry Cavill, the star of this summer's big-budget Man of Steel.
However, while Cavill has drawn no censure for his reprisal of the role of Clark Kent/Superman, Affleck has been targeted by fans of the series, who say the former Gigli star does not have the acting credentials or the personality to convincingly portray the Dark Knight.
John Roden, a Kentucky resident, was one of those who started the online petitions. And one of these petitions claims: "His acting skill is not even close to being believable as Bruce Wayne and he won't do the role justice. He's not built, nor is he intimidating enough for the role of Batman. His portrayal of Daredevil [in 2003, co-starring Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell and Michael Clarke Duncan] was atrocious and he's not remotely close to an action star. Please find someone else."
Other confirmed stars for the forthcoming Superman vs Batman extravaganza are Amy Adams (from Man of Steel as Lois Lane, Kent/Superman's love interest); Laurence Fishburne (from Man of Steel as Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet) and Diane Lane (from Man of Steel, as Kent's Earth mother).
It is understood that pre-production work has begun and Batman trilogy director Nolan will serve as executive producer. Warner Bros have indicated a release in July 2015.
Warner Bros' Response
The film studio has responded to the petitions and they and director Zack Snyder believe Affleck is perfect for the role.
"We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics' most enduringly popular super heroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some," Greg Silverman, president of creative development at Warner Bros Pictures, stated.
"Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry's Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can't wait to work with him," director Zack Snyder said in a statement.
Meanwhile, scroll down to check out pictures which have been doing the rounds in Twitter, under the hash tag #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck.