So here’s the central question of the new Gone Girl trailer, which debuted today, following some teaser posters released over the holiday weekend heralding its imminent arrival with evidence-jammed Ziploc bags: Did Ben Affleck murder his wife? (Uh … did Ben Affleck’s character Nick Dunne murder his wife? Sorry, Ben.)
But maybe the real question is this: Are we, the moviegoing public, now totally on board with Affleck’s casting?
After we read the book in a feverish, page-shredding rush a couple of summers ago, Affleck did not plop himself onto our mental casting couch, trying to convince us he was perfect for the part. (This is where we usually go for the cheap “and then he took off his shirt for no reason” joke, but let’s skip it this time, because (1) that could actually be a useful character beat in this story, and (2) come on, Ben Affleck doesn’t audition anymore, not even in our minds, no matter how badly you want to imagine director David Fincher commanding him to remove his shirt a hundred times, until the gratuitous shirt-doffing matched the fleeting ideal in his head, with Affleck crying, “That felt pretty much like takes 48 and 79, David!” as the taskmaster finally broke his will. Ugh, there we go again.) Maybe we secretly wanted a Matt Damon. Or a Jeremy Renner. Maybe even in that post–The Town, pre-Argo, pre-Batman announcement phase of Affleck’s career, we weren’t open to what now seems like the obvious and impeccable choice. Ben Affleck is Nick Dunne. After these two minutes and thirtysomething seconds of incredibly tense and convincing trailer work, he gets to keep the job. Very big of us, we know.
On the other hand … Neil Patrick Harris is lurking right there. He might also have some golden boy murder suspect in him.