Before ‘Batman v Superman’: 5 Must-See Ben Affleck Movies

Warner Bros.’s announcement that Ben Affleck would play the Caped Crusader in the burgeoning DC cinematic universe — starting with Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — was certainly one of the most divisive casting moves in recent years. After all, Christian Bale earned critical raves and legions of fans for playing the character (his Bat-voice aside) in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Meanwhile, Affleck has recently earned newfound respect as a filmmaker, but many comic book fans still hasn’t forgiven the forgettable Daredevil film he starred in back in 2003.

While he may have a mixed history in comic book-inspired movies, Affleck has starred in plenty of other memorable roles throughout his career. Here’s a look back at some of the actor’s best roles to date. 

1. Chasing Amy (1997)

Ben Affleck in Chasing Amy

Chasing Amy | Miramax

After appearing in early 1990s favorites like Dazed and Confused, Affleck reunited with Mallrats director Kevin Smith for this unconventional love story about a comic book artist (Affleck) who falls for a lesbian (Joey Lauren Adams). The third entry in Smith’s interconnected filmography, the film earned positive reviews for its delicate social commentary as well as its performances, giving Affleck the most complex role he’d tackled to date. He and Smith subsequently worked together again on Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Jersey Girl, but Chasing Amy remains the best example of just how well the pair work together.

2. Good Will Hunting (1997)

Ben Affleck in Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting | Miramax

Coming off the success of Chasing Amy, Affleck’s next film would make him an instant household name. Along with Matt Damon, Affleck co-wrote and co-starred in this drama, which centers on an untapped genius (Damon) who begins seeing a therapist (Robin Williams) and re-evaluating his life. Affleck plays the title character’s best friend and receives one of the most notable moments late in the film. The actor doesn’t get as much screen time as his co-stars, but he shines nonetheless. Considering how integral his role and Oscar-winning screenplay are to the film’s success, no retrospective of Affleck’s career is complete without it.

3. Changing Lanes (2002)

Ben Affleck in Changing Lanes

Changing Lanes | Paramount Pictures

The early 2000s saw Affleck’s personal life eclipse his film work, as this period yielded many of the films his critics deride as signs of his limited talents. However, this underrated thriller from director Roger Michell features some of his best dramatic work. Affleck plays a young lawyer who becomes wrapped up in an ongoing rivalry with a stranger (Samuel L. Jackson) and faces his own ethical limitations along the way. Tense and deeply resonant, the film serves as a character study as much as it does a morality tale, and Affleck brought just the tone to his character. A few years later, his supporting turn as Superman actor George Reeves in Hollywoodland would finally secure his comeback.

4. The Town (2010)

Ben Affleck in The Town

The Town | Warner Bros.

For his second directorial effort (following 2007 release Gone Baby Gone), Affleck took on the lead role of Doug MacRay, a Boston bank robber who winds up in a relationship with a former hostage. One of the best crime sagas since The Departed, the film explores the complex morality of the criminal element and marked Affleck’s continuing evolution as a filmmaker. The Town even earned an Academy Award nomination for Jeremy Renner, as a hot-headed member of MacRay’s gang.

5. Argo (2012)

Ben Affleck in Argo

Argo | Warner Bros.

As CIA Agent Tony Mendez, Affleck led this drama about a real-life Iran hostage crisis in 1979, and the film became his crowning achievement as a filmmaker, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2013. Bolstered by strong supporting performances from actors like Alan Arkin, John Goodman, and Bryan Cranston, Argo is a masterful blend of genres, incorporating satire and political intrigue into one of that year’s most impressive and entertaining films. Affleck is currently filming his directorial follow-up, Live By Night, based on the popular Dennis Lehane novel.

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

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