When Ben Affleck was first announced as the DCEU’s Batman shortly after Man of Steel was released in the summer of 2013, there was a lot of backlash from fans, based almost entirely on the fact that he was Ben Affleck. Even though he’d long since rehabilitated his reputation and reinvented himself as an acclaimed filmmaker, some folks just couldn’t look past his history of starring in poor blockbusters and acting as tabloid fodder.
Of course, many doubters were forced to eat their words when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released, with Affleck leaning into his baggage to deliver a world-weary veteran take on the Dark Knight that audiences had never seen on the big screen before. And had he made his planned solo movie, then the actor had every chance of going down as an all-time great live-action Caped Crusader.
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Zack Snyder’s comic book-orientated filmography from Watchmen to this week’s Justice League has often focused on deconstructing superheroes as opposed to glorifying them, and in a new interview, the director admitted that he always planned for his Batman to split opinion, given how different it was to all of the interpretations that had come before.
“I don’t have a dog in the hunt. When I made Watchmen, it’s deconstructionist. It’s a movie that pokes holes in your heroes. And BvS is the same thing. It’s meant to say, ‘Oh, Batman’s drunk and taking painkillers and he’s sleeping with some anonymous girl’. He’s a broken person. He dresses up as a bat and he goes out at night and he beats people up. He has issues. I do think the movie came along at a point where everyone was like, ‘Oh, we don’t want that Batman. We want Batman to be the warrior-monk who’s cool’. And I personally am fine with that.”
Affleck might be returning to the DCEU in The Flash, but that standalone outing for his Batman still feels like a long shot, especially with Michael Keaton and Robert Pattinson both waiting in the wings to headline ongoing franchises. The Scarlet Speedster’s solo debut is expected to reboot the SnyderVerse via an adaptation of the Flashpoint storyline, and unless something drastic changes, we’ll never get the chance to see what Affleck could bring to the table in a feature film of his own.