If you read last week’s New Yorker article “The Great Sadness of Ben Affleck,” you’re well aware that the Justice League star has become a popular target of lighthearted mockery online. Although public criticizing of Affleck isn’t something exclusive to modern meme culture, and he’s been the butt of a few jokes throughout his career, the phenomenon hit peak levels when a mashup pit the actor’s despondent face against Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” in 2016.
These fan-made creations have continued steadily ever since, with Affleck’s new back-tattoo—depicting a colorful phoenix rising from the ashes—becoming the latest source of meme-ification for much of the public.
Those using Affleck’s back tattoo as fodder for mockery, however, might feel a little stupid right now, since the new inking is reportedly fake. Affleck’s phoenix is only adorning his back as make-up for a Netflix movie called Triple Frontierwhich stars Garret Hedlund, Charlie Hunnam, and Oscar Isaac. “[It’s] fake for a movie,” Affleck told Mario Lopez when the back ink was spotted in 2016. “I actually do have a number of tattoos but I try to have them in places where you don’t have to do a lot of cover up they get sort of addictive, tattoos, after a while.”
On the other hand, many of us doubt the actor’s claims that this isn’t a real, permanent tattoo. Hell, it would make perfect sense for him to ink a rising phoenix on his back after mentally surviving the past few years. Whether it’s a dope tattoo, of course, is another matter.
Even though Affleck has gone through significant personal turmoil in recent years, with a public divorce from Jennifer Garner and alcoholism that landed him in rehab in 2017, a source told People that he’s “doing well” and he’s “been very on top of his health and responsible. He wants to be sober and healthy.” If the actor’s latest tweet is any indication, all signs point toward these statements being true. Could you picture an angry alcoholic posting as lighthearted, jovial a response as this one?
Now, for the important stuff: can we get some competent screenwriters and directors attached to the DC Movie Universe, please? Besides the thoroughly good job done by Patty Jenkins on Wonder Woman, the entries into this expanded universe have been, dare we say, abominations. If only fans could focus their energies on redirecting DC’s artistic course, instead of hampering Affleck about his tattoos, we might actually get a decent Batman movie out of all this. For now, we’ll just have to enjoy Affleck’s Twitter mentions, and patiently wait for Wonder Woman 2 to arrive.