Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice remains one of the most divisive comic book movies ever made nearly a year after its release, but many were in agreement that Ben Affleck’s take on Batman was a strong point. Though the Oscar winner’s casting stirred up controversy when first announced, now the character’s long-gestating solo film is one of the most anticipated projects the DC Extended Universe has coming through the pipeline. As the DCEU looks to bounce back from and up and down 2016, “Batfleck” is seen as a beacon of hope and a bona fide star to build around.
That said, the new interpretation wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Batman V Superman arrived in theaters less than four years after director Christopher Nolan concluded his Dark Knight trilogy, which for some is the best big screen version of Gotham’s favorite son. With Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne still fresh in everyone’s memory, it was difficult for certain viewers to move on and fully embrace Affleck (even after his Dawn of Justice performance). It would appear composer Hans Zimmer is among that group, as he feels Bale’s Batman is more interesting to him.
Zimmer, who co-wrote the music for Batman V Superman as well as the Dark Knight trilogy, was interviewed by Inverse, where Batman was a topic of conversation. When asked about the differences between the two Batmen, Zimmer explained why he was more drawn to Bale:
“I spent months trying to come up with something for Ben. The Batman that I know and the one I learned is the one that Christian did, and Ben plays it differently. And I can’t quite shake that off. For me, the Christian Bale character was always completely unresolved. It was always about that moment at the beginning of the first movie, where he sees his parents getting killed. It was basically arrested development. The Ben character is more middle-aged, he seems to be grumpy as hell but I didn’t feel the pain that I felt in Christian’s performance. And it was that pain that made me interested.”
Audiences first met these two adaptations at varying points in their lives. Bale’s first appearance was in Batman Begins, an origin story that showed how Bruce Wayne became Batman. The pain and grief he felt over his parents’ death was still fresh, which is probably why it was so prevalent during that film. In contrast, Affleck was designed as a more veteran, world-weary Batman, who has been fighting crime in Gotham for decades and is nearing the end of his rope. There’s no denying that Batman was tormented by his past in Dawn of Justice, he just had a different way of dealing with the trauma after so many years on the job. If Bale had been allowed to portray an aged Batman who has been through hell (including losing a Robin along the way), odds are he would have been grumpier too. The loss of Rachel Dawes was a tough blow, but Bale still wasn’t thrown through the wringer for 20 years.
Of course, this is all a matter of personal preference, and Zimmer is by no means criticizing those who enjoyed Affleck’s spin on the material. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the composer spent 12 years of his life working on the Dark Knight movies, and has a far more personal connection to that series than most. He admitted writing new music for Dawn of Justice felt like “betraying everything Christian had done,” so it clearly wasn’t easy for him to shift gears. This may explain why Zimmer decided to step down from superhero films, but he could return to the genre should the right project come across his desk.