Much has been said about the current status of Warner Bros’ seemingly mismanaged attempts to replicate the success of Marvel. Apparently, the reported ‘issues’ have arisen from chaotic goings-on behind-the-scenes. Two Joker movies, Man of Steel 2, Birds of Prey, Flashpoint and more have been mooted, as well as Matt Reeves’s standalone Batman film/trilogy, with the latter still reportedly undecided on what story to tell. Will it be a reboot? Or will Ben Affleck continue as the Dark Knight? Something official may be forthcoming at this month’s San Diego Comic-Con but for us the decision is simple: Affleck deserves his own film — or, indeed, films — as the Caped Crusader, and here’s why…
Don’t Pull a Sony – Have a Little Faith
A reboot seems to be the destined route for the new Batman film/trilogy under the direction of Matt Reeves. But that just seems like a mistake given the groundwork has already been done. We have seen Batman’s origins countless times already (even in Batman v Superman) and to go back and do it all over again, even in a different way, seems foolhardy. Look at Spider-Man and Sony: their reboot with Andrew Garfield didn’t work out, despite the actor’s best efforts, and plans for sequels and their own universe were scrapped. Only for Marvel to step in and add the web-slinger to the MCU. DC has a different scenario on their hands for sure, but rebooting so soon after Affleck’s version, and indeed The Dark Knight Trilogy, seems such a missed opportunity to do something really unique with Batman on film.
Affleck’s Revelatory Portrayal
When news first broke about Batman and Superman facing off in the Man of Steel follow-up in July 2013 at San Diego Comic Con, fans unsurprisingly went a little loopy with anticipation. One month later, they became decidedly less enthusiastic when Affleck was first announced as the new Batman. Warned by the studios to “stay away” from the internet for a little while after the announcement, Affleck decided to have a peek (“I handle s—!” he said). The first comment read: “Nooooooooooooo!!!!”.
It was a sign of things to come from despondent fans, but come 2016, the Oscar winner would have the last laugh. A revelatory performance later and many had to eat their words. The whole scenario is not dissimilar to how Heath Ledger and Daniel Craig were both initially received when news that they’d be taking on the roles of the Joker and James Bond respectively broke. Both ultimately, both slayed the naysayers.
His Batman is Unique – and We Need More
We’ve had the brooding version, the “beast” version and the campy version, but with Affleck we had an entirely new interpretation: the older, wiser and even more tortured Batman/Bruce Wayne. One that comes complete with decades’ worth of mental and physical scars that will not heal, and which have tipped him over the edge. We only get glimpses of what he has experienced in that time (Suicide Squad rogues, the death of Robin) but Matt Reeves could explore all of these moments we haven’t seen before onscreen. It would make for a fascinating new big-screen take on the character.
THAT Fight Scene and Its Potential
There has been some truly jaw-dropping imagery throughout the Batman movies since the superhero’s first incarnation on the big screen. Much of which has manifested itself as iconic moments. Notably, the opening of Burton’s first film, Michelle Pfeiffer’s sarcastic “meow” before she blows up Schrek’s department store, Nolan flipping a truck in the middle of downtown Chicago… even the Bat Credit Card (“Never leave the cave without it!”). But there hasn’t been a purer Dark Knight moment than the fight scene towards the end of Batman v Superman.
The highlight of the film, Zack Snyder perfectly executed a sequence that fans had been yearning for, seeing Batman in full flow neutralising a group of Lex Luthor’s henchmen, one by one, with vicious intent. While Snyder has moved on, this is the blueprint for how Affleck and his Batman should be presented onscreen. One that is both steeped in history and unique at the same time.
There’s No Real Candidate to Replace Him
As with all of the other Batman incarnations, whenever the cape and cowl are left empty there is a whole host of names linked with the role. This time, it’s no different. Recently, Jake Gyllenhaal’s name has been bandied around but with word that he is set to play Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home, that now seems unlikely.
David S. Goyer, who co-wrote The Dark Knight Trilogy, said that when they were casting Batman they could find many actors who could play Bruce Wayne and many who could be Batman but not many who could do both. Right now, the same scenario exists: sure, it’s easy to say that because of this, Affleck should stay in the role. But there is no-one in Hollywood’s current landscape who could do what Affleck has been doing, and for this, he deserves to be the Caped Crusader for years to come.