Paging hair and makeup! Ben Affleck makes his first public appearance since splitting with Jennifer Garner — at Comic-Con.


Henry Cavill, left, and Ben Affleck attend the Warner Bros. presentation during Comic-Con International 2015 at the San Diego Convention Center. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Maybe there’s still a little magic left in Hollywood after all.

Praise be to the hair and makeup infantry, whose efforts can erase years and add, if nothing else, the illusion that everything in your life if coming up roses, even if the exact opposite is actually the case.

They are Hollywood’s miracle workers, and Saturday, it became apparent that someone had worked their magic on Ben Affleck.

Affleck participated in a panel at Comic-Con. It was his first public appearance after he and actress Jennifer Garner announced June 30 they were splitting after 10 years of marriage.

[Even PBS isn’t immune to Hollywood’s big PR machine — or the influence of Ben Affleck]

The days since have been the sort that anyone, rich and famous or not, would hope to avoid.

The announcement was easy compared to what followed, as the Hollywood gossip corps offered its speculations as to why the marriage dissolved: Was Affleck a modern-day Don Draper, expecting to work and provide for his family while his wife cooled her career to raise their three children? Was it his well-documented gambling habit? Was it substance abuse?

No wonder he and Garner took their three children and fled to the Bahamas for a few days, although as soon as he returned, the gossip churn simply kicked into high gear, re-energized with new pictures of Affleck looking haggard, grim and not much at all like a superhero.

Paparazzi snapped him leaning into his car, and his T-shirt and jacket had ridden up just enough to reveal that Batman sports a 34 waist, and part of a lower back tattoo commonly known as a “tramp stamp.”

So it was imperative that Affleck, 42, show up Sunday, looking, well, like Batman.

Even though the trailer for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” debuted to enthusiastic praise and grudging acknowledgement that Affleck could in fact be convincingly Batman-y, he still needed to be present.

[Comic-Con: New ‘Batman v. Superman’ trailer does justice to eager fans]

So his salt-and-pepper hair and beard were polished up with blond-reddish highlights, and Affleck emerged in San Diego looking healthy, wealthy and well-moisturized. He and co-star Henry Cavill, who plays Superman, yukked it up on the Comic-Con dais and Affleck revealed that he’d tapped Christian Bale for tips on playing Bruce Wayne. He said Bale told him “make sure you can piss in that suit.”

For all of Affleck’s vices, he’s still knows how to be a movie star, and he turned on the self-effacing charm when revealing how director Zack Snyder convinced him he was right for the role.

“If I thought too hard about the actors who played this part before, I couldn’t have taken the job,” Affleck said. “Tim Burton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, the great Christian Bale.” (Obviously, he meant Michael Keaton, not Burton.)

“I talked to Zack about it. I was like, ‘are you sure?’ you know. And he said, ‘I have this vision. I have this idea for the guy and you’re perfect for it.’ I said ‘well, what do you mean?’ He’s like, ‘he’s at the end of his rope, he’s older, he’s like a burnout.'”

Affleck paused, nodded and smiled.

“‘Preciate that,” he said.


Ben Affleck speaks during the “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” panel on Day 3 of Comic-Con International. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Such is the business of celebrity.

Back straight, chest out, and chin up, doll! You’ve got a franchise to sell.

Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.

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