While Ben Affleck has since vacated the role of Batman on film, it turns out prior Batman actor George Clooney urged him not to take the role at all. Batman might just be the most popular superhero in the world, but to say that he's experienced an up and down cinematic career would be an understatement. The Caped Crusader had trouble getting rid of a bomb in 1966's Adam West camp-fest, indulged in darkness and Prince songs with Tim Burton in 1989, then both battled and seduced Michelle Pfieffer's dominatrix-like Catwoman in 1992's Batman Returns.
Then came the Joel Shumacher era, in which parts of the Adam West movie and parts of the Tim Burton movies were seemingly thrown into a blender, then combined with a box of double entrendres to create 1995's Batman Forever and 1997's Batman & Robin, which almost nobody likes all that much. Sure, the Schumacher films have their fans in the "so bad they're good" way, but few are likely to say they did Batman justice. It was in Batman & Robin that George Clooney entered the picture, having just began his ascent to Hollywood A-lister.
Even after Batman Forever - which it's important to remember still made a ton of cash - Clooney naturally saw playing Batman as a good step to take in his career. After all, who wouldn't want to play a pop culture icon on the level of James Bond or Han Solo? Unfortunately, Clooney has since been quite candid about his bad experience playing Batman, and even openly apologized for Batman & Robin's failings. It even turns out that before Ben Affleck accepted the Batman role in the DCEU, Clooney tried to warn away his Argo colleague from taking the part, as revealed during a recent THR interview.
“I actually did talk to him about it. I said, ‘Don’t do it.’” Clooney remembered. “It was only from my experience, which is, you know …”
Of course, Affleck didn't take Clooney's advice, and ended up playing Batman in both 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and 2017's Justice League, as well as making a cameo in 2016's Suicide Squad. Affleck officially departed the Batman role earlier this year, ahead of Matt Reeves' 2021 take on the Dark Knight entitled simply The Batman. That film will feature a younger incarnation of Batman/Bruce Wayne, although the part has yet to be cast.
To his credit, Clooney admits that Affleck did well with the role, an opinion shared by many DC fans. The DCEU's problems always seem to come down to scripting, execution, and characterization, not casting issues. Many fans lament how little Affleck got to do with the Batman character, and will feel the same regret if Henry Cavill ends up never returning to play Superman again. Considering how short Affleck's stint was, one wonders if he wishes he had just listened to his buddy George in the first place.