Today, August 22, 2018, marks the five-year anniversary of Ben Affleck's Batman casting announcement. It's been a roller-coaster half-decade, with an initial backlash (as is customary for Bat-characters, from Michael Keaton to Heath Ledger) making way for jokes about his initial dour presentation, debate of his propensity for killing in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Sad Affleck, and endless back-and-forth on whether he's done with the DCEU.
Presently, Affleck's future in the role is unclear. He's appeared in Suicide Squad and Justice League since his debut, but passed over writing and directing duties on a solo movie to Matt Reeves, whose story focuses on a younger Caped Crusader. With Justice League 2 currently not a priority for DC Films, it's possible the DCEU may move forward with a different Bats.
To mark the occasion, Screen Rant's editors have taken the time to share their thoughts on Ben Affleck - including his casting, his tenure, and his future - with a wide range of resulting opinions. Let us know what you make of Batfleck down in the comments.
Five years ago, the superhero movie landscape was a very different place - making it even harder to imagine that the (at the time) divisive casting of Ben Affleck as the DCEU Batman would turn out to be one of the least controversial aspects of Zack Snyder’s burgeoning DC movieverse. Back in 2013, we were quick to point out why Affleck was an inspired choice for the role - and our reasoning turned out to be largely correct.
Affleck was a clever choice for an older, disillusioned Dark Knight - one that, in spite of how viewers might feel about Snyder’s larger vision, delivered the best Bat-action scenes and an interesting take on Bruce Wayne that hasn’t been explored on the big screen before; specifically, a cynical vigilante who lost faith in mankind only to rediscover his own humanity through the selfless actions of a god-like alien he nearly killed.
While the future of the DCEU is still in flux, it’s a testament to Affleck that despite all of the controversy, fanboy warring, and general disappointment, most fans still want to see the actor return to the cape and cowl for a full-fledged solo movie.
What's so interesting about Batfleck is that, for all the column miles written about him in the past five years (and my opinion that his casting was the smartest move in the early DCEU), Ben Affleck never really got a proper chance to play the role. The Batman v Superman iteration is so intensely dark, then, after an afternoon cameo in Suicide Squad, in Justice League he became something akin to George Clooney's take (and now a proper, noir adventure will be at best a prequel starring a younger actor).
The two prime Batfleck movies present two extremes that both mess with the standard interpretation; perhaps best seen in the handling of Bruce Wayne, who enters a blank slate and exits giving up trying to hide his terribly-kept secret identity (the Hall of Justice is in Wayne Manor, nuff said). I feel even Dawn of Justice doesn't have consistency (the "Martha" moment is too abstract for the character established), but the real whiplash is of course due to Justice League's movie-altering reshoots. While they're typically blamed more for Superman's mustache, they don't leave Batman much better: he's put out of action in the final act because his gun runs out of bullets.
Between two visions muddled by extremely different context, my enduring feeling is Batfleck deserved so much better. When Ben Affleck was cast, people were debating if he had the chin for Batman (he does); five years later, I'm debating if he ever really got anything more.
The name of the game with the DCEU is polarization. While that was an aspect of the universe long before the casting of Batman, Zack Snyder's choice of Ben Affleck was definitely one of the more notable controversial choices. While many people came around on him after the movie, he was inherently linked to Zack Snyder's bold vision for the franchise.
At this time, it's pointless to defend Affleck's casting and performance, or Snyder's overall creative decisions, as both have been done and will remain incomplete pieces of a larger vision. But one thing that's become clear is that Affleck's role and Snyder's five-part story had something that seems rare in modern blockbuster franchises: an ending.
We didn't understand this at the time, but Affleck as Batman was never going to be like Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man or Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. He was sold on a very specific story from the start by Snyder, and over the course of three or four movies we were going to see a fallen Batman redeemed by Superman, assemble the Justice League, then probably sacrifice himself facing Darkseid.
Now that Snyder's vision is gone, it makes sense that Affleck also might be fading from the franchise. There are rumors he could remain involved, and there's certainly opportunity for that, but no matter how that all turns out, it's not going to be the self-contained story he signed on for in the first place. The bold choice of bringing him on as Batman will never be properly realized in its original intent, but hopefully we'll still get an iconic stand-alone Batman story with Affleck out of this before it's all said and done.
Ben Affleck has long been one of my favorite people in Hollywood, and though I was surprised he signed on for Batman in the wake of his Oscar win for Argo, I always supported him in the role and felt he would make a strong Batman. While the films around him haven't always been up to par, I can say that I very much enjoyed his take on the character and felt he proved the naysayers wrong. As someone who genuinely likes Man of Steel and doesn't mind Batman v Superman as much as others (save for a few moments), I'm disappointed that we never got to see the culmination of Zack Snyder's original vision, which I'm almost positive is what sold Affleck on the part.
As for his future in the role, I'm a little torn. I would like to see him continue and work with Matt Reeves on the solo film, but I'm also a big fan of Affleck's other work. I'm interested in seeing what he can do with the McDonald's Monopoly movie, and think his upcoming turn in The Has-Been has a lot of potential to be great. I'm rooting for the best possible outcome - whatever that may be.
It's hard to believe that five years has passed since Ben Affleck was announced as the next Hollywood star to put on Batman's cape and cowl. And in every year since (and likely many still to come) the truth behind his motivations and struggles has strayed closer and farther from the facts.
So the only conclusion that will last the test of time for me personally? Ben Affleck delivered the first Bruce Wayne and Batman who felt like the one I loved reading in comic books. I was there making the argument that, despite first reactions, Affleck had shown the dramatic chops to pull off both sides of the character like few other actors before. The brooding, deeply tormented man hiding behind a suit and smile... and the Dark Knight, as if he stepped straight out of a DC graphic novel.
The bittersweet reality is that after five years of watching Affleck trudge through every reason a respected actor shouldn't play a blockbuster superhero, I'm ready for him to hang up the cape. Not because of his performance, but because WB's plans - seen in some of Justice League's most regrettable moments - are clearly not what he signed on for. And perhaps for the first time ever, the actor in the cowl doesn't actually need the role to bolster their career.
Despite the fact that I'll never get to see Zack Snyder's story - the one Affleck couldn't resist being part of - there is a bright side. Not only were my hopes for "Batfleck" exceeded in and out of the Batsuit, but the choices, moments, and lines of dialogue that had me grinning in the theatre still hit me just as hard today. And no matter what WB does next, that won't ever change.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020