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

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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.

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

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