After Warner Bros. electrified the crowd at San Diego Comic-Con 2013 (and the internet) with the announcement of Man of Steel 2, a Batman/Superman team-up movie, attention shifted very quickly to who would step into the cape and cowl as the new Dark Knight. Rumors ranged from a younger Batman Beyond-inspired Caped Crusader to an older, more tech-savvy Batman - while other reports suggested that Warner Bros. was (at least) tempted to offer Christian Bale a dump truck full of money to get the actor on board for more vigilante justice.
However, in a late-in-the-day surprise announcement, it was revealed that Academy Award winning director and writer, Ben Affleck would be the next actor to portray Batman onscreen. Certain fans were quick to express their disappointment (and hatred of his role in the Daredevil film), whereas some were encouraged by the choice (and focused on Affleck's more recent work, most notably his performances in The Town and Argo), while others merely considered the actor an uninteresting choice - especially in light of lesser known performers that had been mentioned.
In response, the Screen Rant team has weighed-in on why Ben Affleck as Batman could work, and now the filmmakers behind the upcoming movie (and the casting choice) are offering their thoughts - as well as teasing what fans can expect from this new take on the Caped Crusader.
In an official press release from Warner Bros. studio, producer Greg Silverman expressed his confidence in Affleck's ability to step into the fan-favorite role as well as explore new elements of Batman/Bruce Wayne:
"We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics’ most enduringly popular Super Heroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some. His outstanding career is a testament to his talent and we know he and Zack will bring new dimension to the duality of this character."
Fellow Warner Bros. executive Sue Kroll was equally enthusiastic - acknowledging that Batman isn't just a role, Affleck is joining a long legacy of talented actors that have portrayed Batman onscreen.
"We are so thrilled that Ben is continuing Warner Bros.’ remarkable legacy with the character of Batman. He is a tremendously gifted actor who will make this role his own in this already much-anticipated pairing of these two beloved heroes."
Even though Kroll doesn't namedrop any of the previous Bat-men, it's sometimes easy to forget that, while Christian Bale is certainly the most recent (and arguably one of the best) actors to wear the Batsuit, the part has attracted a long list of A-Listers and cult favorites over the years, including Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney on the big screen, Adam West, Robert Lowrey, and Lewis G. Wilson for TV, along with voice-work from Kevin Conroy (and many others).
So how will the new version of Batman fit among countless other quality iterations and beloved performances? In the press release, director Zack Snyder teased a wise, charming, and scarred Caped Crusader:
“Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.”
Listeners of the Screen Rant Underground podcast will remember that long before the Batman vs. Superman announcement at Comic-Con, we had been speculating that a new iteration of the Dark Knight would be a tech-savvy and wise strategist - one that could be, as Snyder flat out states, a "counter-balance" to the new Man of Steel.
Still, it's easy to understand why certain fans are having a hard time picturing Affleck in the role; but, at least in some cases, that might be because we're trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Christian Bale was great for Nolan's trilogy and he put his stamp on the role. Though, this is a new take on the character (set in Snyder's Superman world) and, as a result, there's also reason to be optimistic that Affleck can deliver a "layered portrayal" - delivering a Batman that is just as good, albeit admittedly different, than the most recent installment.
The notion that this Bruce Wayne will be a seasoned crime fighter and wiser than Superman certainly indicates that writer David S. Goyer is planning for some enticing altercations between the two heroes - as well as thematic juxtapositions that will help flesh out both the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader while DC builds a cinematic shared universe.
That said, there's still a lot we do not know, and with a set release date of July 17, 2015, Warner Bros. has plenty of time to convince (or prove correct) any skeptics. Now, if only we knew who the filmmakers had in mind for Lex Luthor.
Man of Steel 2/Batman vs. Superman will be released in 2015.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future updates on Batman vs. Superman as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.