Everyone knows the story by now: Bruce Wayne’s parents are killed, and he spends his life training his body and mind to be a living nightmare on his city’s back alleys, known as The Batman. But considering how much blockbuster movie-making relies on men of action, and heroes and heroines who don’t waste time planning for every eventuality, one major aspect of Batman‘s character has been overlooked: the fact that he’s not just the caped crusader, but the world’s greatest detective.
As Ben Affleck’s version of the character prepares to share adventures with an Atlantean king, a demigoddess, a speedster and a cyborg, it sounds like his muscles are going to matter less than ever. We got the chance to speak with Affleck during our recent Justice League set visit, and his prediction for the future of the character is sure to please fans hoping to see Batman as a lethal fighter and thinker – while promising a solo Batman film sticking to the deepest roots of the DC Comics icon.
You can’t really blame Christopher Nolan, Tim Burton, or Joel Schumacher for skipping over the ‘detective work’ that defines the Dark Knight on the comic book page. Since most movie heroes tend to react to the villain, Bruce Wayne’s Bat-Computer is usually put to use figuring out what just happened, or providing him with intelligence that he could’ve probably found with a Google search. The bottom line: no matter how “right” Christopher Nolan got the heart of the character, we’ve said for years that if Zack Snyder or Warner Bros. wanted to rush a reboot, there was one obvious way to have the new Batman stand on his own.
In short: make him a detective first.
Forget the fact that the character debuted in the pages of “Detective Comics.” Heck, even overlook the fact that the immortal Ra’s al Ghul doesn’t address his would-be successor as Batman, or even Bruce, but as “Detective.” The fact is, a mind for strategy and willingness to do what others won’t may make Batman important to the Justice League… but it’s his mind that makes him irreplaceable.
It’s a side of the character that Zack Snyder made sure to focus on, introducing audiences to Bruce in the middle of an extensive investigation (carried out both in and out of the Batsuit). As Bruce now leads the charge of uniting Earth’s heroes, Affleck says his intelligence will continue to shine:
“Definitely. The world’s greatest detective aspect of Batman is more present in this story than it was in the last one, and will probably be expanded upon further in a Batman movie that I would do. I think all the great Batman stories are, at their heart, detective stories. That’s why they feel like noir movies in a way– somehow feels like it could be The Maltese Falcon. But at their heart good Batman stories are, like I said, detective stories. And with detective stories, there’s a “what’s happening” element, but there’s also a, “how do I find these people and bring them together? How are we going to work together successfully?” Sort of a multilateralist.”
That’s more than welcome news to fans of the comic book Batman, and even more reason to look forward to the Batman solo film Affleck’s developing with Geoff Johns. It truly seems a perfect twist of fate: after showing some apprehension, Affleck wound up playing a well-received Dark Knight (considering the critical response to the overall movie, that’s no small victory) only to be given the reins of his very own movie… which just so happens to fall in the genre he seems most skilled in. With Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo all telling tales of twists and turns, tense operations and the underbelly of urban centers, the Dark Knight seems to be in good hands.
Affleck’s skills at writing and directing were never in question, but are you happy to hear that he finds the best Batman stories to be noir/detective ones? Is it time for a darker, street-level Batman mystery, as opposed to a big-budget blockbuster? Let us know what you think in the comments, and make sure to check out the rest of our coverage from the set of Justice League.
Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.