Ben Affleck Is Superman! (Kinda)

Affleck signed to play lead in tragic George Reeves tale...
OK folks, the fun’s over. Some of you cold-hearted lot – and you know who you are – may have had a blast kicking Ben Affleck recently but, now that that dreadful J.Lo/Gigli business is well and truly behind him, Empire is here to say: the rehabilitation of Affleck begins here! And it begins with the news that he’s signed on to star as… Superman!

Whoa, hold on – before you splutter your café latte (or whatever it is you’re ingesting) all over your keyboard, let us explain. Affleck isn’t playing Superman, per se – that role in Bryan Singer’s forthcoming big-budget remake is still going to newcomer, Brandon Routh. But he has signed on to play the second most notorious screen Superman, George Reeves, in the long-delayed biopic, Truth, Justice And The American Way.

How long-delayed? Well, the flick – which explores the investigation into the death of Reeves, who played a slightly podgy Man Of Steel on the small and big screens from 1951 to 1954 and who was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in 1959 – has been around for a few years, and actually came closest to lensing in 2003 when Hugh Jackman was attached as Reeves. And his proposed director? One Bryan Singer.

However, Jackman’s packed schedule scuppered the whole thing, and the project became dormant. But with a new Supes flick on the way, it was never going to remain that way for long and when Adrien Brody signed on in September to play the detective investigating Reeves’ mysterious murder, all systems were go again. The only thing that new director Allen Coulter needed was a Reeves/Superman, so along came Affleck to play the pivotal role of a complex actor, haunted by the repercussions of fame. How apt.

Affleck, after a run of critical and commercial failures (Surviving Christmas, Gigli, Daredevil – which actually did quite well, but it’s been lumped in with the clunkers – and that Jenny From The Block video), not to mention his much-publicised engagement to Jennifer Lopez and several brushes with rehab, promised to go off and re-evaluate things.

And so far, it’s looking so good – he’s now in a steady relationship with another Jennifer (Garner), seems to have pulled his head together and started making smarter choices, including attaching himself to this, long considered one of the finest unmade scripts in Hollywood. (Think of it as Auto Focus – Paul Schrader’s biopic of ill-fated TV star Bob Crane – with less cocks and more capes, and you might be on the right track.)

Diane Lane will star as a married studio executive who may or may not have been involved with Reeves, whose death has never been solved. It’s listed on the IMDB (which is never wrong, of course) as suicide, but many suspect that Reeves was murdered, and the film is likely to perpetuate this theory.

Either way, with Affleck sure to tap into the right vein of self-loathing as Reeves – a man who, like most screen Supermen, found he was trapped in identification with the character – this might be something special. Expect to see Truth, Justice And The American Way (title’s ironic, y’see) on screens sometime after Singer’s slightly glitzier Superman opens, when Brandon Routh may just be discovering why Reeves – and Kirk Alyn (the first Superman), Dean Cain, and Christopher Reeve – felt the way he did.
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