Ben Affleck has responded to the backlash against Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, admitting that some of it was justified. Affleck hasn't had the easiest ride in his time with the DCEU. His initial casting back in 2013 was met with derision and while many came around on him as an older Dark Knight, there has been rampant speculation about his own skepticism since Batman v Superman's critical drubbing.
His supposed reaction to the bad reviews in a junket interview went viral when scored to Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence", and since then he's been dogged by speculation about the future of his role; first as director of The Batman standalone film (which has now been handed over to Matt Reeves) and later whether he'd hang up the cape and cowl for good. The actor's responded to the Sad Affleck meme and those rumors, making clear he's not going anywhere, but has only now directly addressed the film itself.
Speaking to Empire for their Justice League cover story, Affleck discussed how the new movie will be different to Dawn of Justice and said that he understood some of the criticism:
"I can understand people saying [Batman v Superman] was too dark, or this was outside the tone of what I'm used to seeing with a Batman story, and I think that's a fair criticism."
Batman v Superman was criticized for a wide range of filmmaking problems, but its murderous, un-Batman Bruce Wayne was at the forefront, especially in fan circles, and it seems the actor has come to realize that. It's a candid statement, especially in an approved feature, which highlights how important this is.
Although while that may sound like Affleck is throwing Batman v Superman under the bus in an attempt to appease burned audiences, he's more trying to show understanding of the divisiveness of Zack Snyder's reinvention of the character. Indeed, he went on to talk about how, even though those involved understood the criticisms of the previous film, the BvS backlash didn't lead to changes to Justice League:
"But this was all scripted and set up before that movie came out. The approach was changed anyway for the second one. It was natural progression."
This is a prominent view from the cast of the film; that the plan was always to go lighter. Speaking further to Empire, Affleck also said, "Zack wanted to make a movie that was more fun, that was a little bit light, that wasn't so encumbered with heavy melodrama" while Gal Gadot added that "Justice League is not a dark or heavy movie. It doesn't have the weight Batman v Superman had."
Whatever the genesis, the Justice League we eventually see will certainly be a lighter prospect than its predecessor. There's been a greater sense of camaraderie in the trailers and reports suggest that Joss Whedon's rewrites were aimed at providing a more real team dynamic. We haven't seen too much in way of outright jokes, although Empire also provides a hint at them with several barbs from Jeremy Irons' Alfred when Batman turns up with the rest of the League, showing his sardonically funny side: "If you'd warned me, I would have baked a cake", "I'll break open the party hats and the pinata" and "I'll make some tea. Don't know where I'll find the cups."
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