A little over a month ago, the news that Ben Affleck would be the next actor to take up Batman's mantle in director Zack Snyder's Man of Steel sequel - currently known as Batman Vs. Superman - came seemingly out of the blue. The expected fan backlash has since calmed down, allowing different perspectives on the ambitious project to come to light, including the fact that the film is further along in development than anyone previously thought.
Affleck waited for the dust to settle (and for the Internet to take a collective breath and relax) before addressing the casting choice on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The interview was short on specifics, but touched on some of the unique aspects of this new Batman, including how he would depicted as older than his previous big-screen incarnations, which presumably sets up Superman and Batman as adversaries, at least initially.
While more recent stories surrounding Batman Vs. Superman have centered on the question of whether or not Wonder Woman would have a role, we now have new insights from Ben Affleck on his take as the defender of Gotham City.
In an interview with 411mania, Affleck was asked about his beloved Red Sox, touched on his TV project The Middle Man, his favorite shows (he's a Game of Thrones fan), and how he made the decision to take the role of Batman:
"Initially I was reluctant as I felt I didn't fit the traditional mold but once Zack showed me the concept, and that it would be both different from the great movies that Chris and Christian made but still in keeping with tradition I was excited. Doing something different and new is always tricky and part of the thrill and the risk is that initially it confounds expectations. The truth is, it's the movie and the execution of it is what all the actors depend on and I believe in Zack's vision."
While this version of Batman is to be "tired, weary and seasoned," according to Warner Brothers CEO Kevin Tsujihara, Affleck was asked how this description might extend to Batman's alter-ego, Bruce Wayne. According to Affleck:
"Yes, Kevin described it aptly. I don't want to go further because I want to be able to capitalize on what is new about this iteration by having it be a surprise to the audience."
While the fan outcry over Affleck's casting echoed similar reactions to every other actor to play the role - going back to Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman - one wonders if Affleck himself has a favorite previous version. His response:
"It has been done very well many times before. "
It may be a noncommittal response, but it's also very diplomatic, and possibly meant as a gracious attempt to honor all the previous Batmen, as well as deflect any premature ideas of how Affleck will interpret the role. He will be compared very closely to every other actor to play Batman, so keeping his approach under wraps is the best move at this point. Henry Cavill seemed to play the role of Superman as if it had never been played before, resulting in a fresh take on the Man of Steel - this is a tactic Affleck may be looking to echo.
"Confounding expectations" is a key phrase among Affleck's responses. Zack Snyder and David S. Goyer did just that with Man of Steel; for all its flaws, it's safe to say it was not what we were expecting, and very different from what came before.
One of the things which provoked the ire of many a fan and critic was Superman's apparent disregard for the safety of Smallville and Metropolis during his throwdowns with General Zod; now we know that Snyder and Goyer plan to address this in the sequel, setting up the potential for a story full of morally and philosophically complex issues. As more information trickles our way, we will find out just what else we should - and should not - expect from this long-awaited team-up.
Batman Vs. Superman opens in U.S. theaters on July 17th, 2015.