Affleck is Batman, and oh, the controversy

Ben Affleck onstage at the 18th Annual Critics' Ben Affleck onstage at the 18th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards held at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. (January 10, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and ...

It's more a casting dare than a casting call.

Nerdy Ben Affleck really will play Batman in the next "Man of Steel" movie. Apparently, a broad chest and a somber demeanor are no longer required for the Caped Crusader role.

What could be weirder than this? Pee-Wee Herman as Superman?

Sorry, that job's already taken in director Zack Snyder's as-yet-untitled superhero matchup, set for release in summer 2015. Henry Cavill will return as Krypton's most famous world-saving emigrant.

But from Gotham City to Metropolis, things are clearly in super flux. Some screen-comic purists were grumbling at week's end over the pair's first-ever joint big-screen appearance. Ben might be batty, they were saying, but not in a Batman way. And his rocky run-up -- "Gigli"! "Surviving Christmas"! -- gave the grumblers plenty to grumble about. It was Ben, don't forget, who vowed after "Daredevil" never to play a superhero again.

Excellent advice, the comi-connoisseurs are saying now. It'll take a whole lot more than directing "Argo" to give Ben real highflying box-office cred, even if people do start calling him "Batfleck."

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Really?

They already have?

How heroic is that?

JUST SUPER

1. Chelsea Manning

2. North West

3. Mayor Creepy

4. Canada Cruz

5. Alex Rodroidz

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Who's the enraged West Islip dad caught on cellphone video at the Long Island Soccer Shootout in Farmingville? His 10-year-old daughter must be cringing now at Dad's viral YouTube stardom. . . Huntington's Red Dot emergency-medical info system is now available to town residents of all ages? Thanks, Councilwoman Susan Berland . . . Now that he's bought a new building on Waverly Avenue in Patchogue, is JVC Broadcasting honcho John Caracciolo ready to make the big leap from Latin, rock and country to LI-centric all-news and talk? It's a long-standing dream of his . . . How did Woodbury-based AriZona Beverages snag Shaquille O'Neal to front the new Soda Shaq Cream Soda line? Mike Bloomberg's follow-up: Did the big man know that each 23.5-ounce (three-servings?) can contains 270 calories and 72 grams of sugar? . . . 500 LI Northrop Grumman workers are following their departing jobs to "Centers of Excellence" in San Diego or Melbourne, Fla. What's the right term for the defense contractor's once-bustling Bethpage facility? A Center of Vacancy? A Center of What Used to Be? . . . Will Andrew Cuomo's new election-reporting system, trading pencil tabulations at county election boards for digital "memory devices," spare Long Island from election-night counting areas and multiday confusion over who the winner is? . . . Wasn't that brave of District Attorney Kathleen Rice to join clergy and civil-rights leaders at the "Raise the Age" rally in Mineola, saying state law sends too many Nassau County children to adult courts and adult jails? . . . Will Dowling College sell its Brookhaven campus or keep it for aviation and grad students? The dorm's vacated now . . . Who or what stands between Pat Vecchio and another four years? Term limits? No actual candidate seems poised to stop the 36-year Smithtown supervisor in November.

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THE NEWS IN SONG: Worth it, after all: Not all heroes are super: Lazlo Bane, "I'm No Superman," tinyurl.com/duperhero

LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK: PROFESSOR CARL BERNSTEIN

No one can say for certain how much energy or attention Carl Bernstein will devote to his new j-prof gig at Stony Brook University. With his books, his talking-head duties and his 40-year hero career, he's always had his hands full. But if the one-half of the most famous reporting duo on earth can inspire even a handful of next-generation journos, this boldface hire will be worth the money and more. He arrives on campus as his chosen profession is in deep self-analysis. He redefined the news landscape once already. Who says he can't do it again?Email Ellis@henican.com

Follow on Twitter @henican

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