When Warner Bros. first announced that the Man of Steel follow-up would indeed be Batman vs. Superman, fans went nuts. But then there seemed to be a 180 amongst some of the more passionate when Ben Affleck was announced as the actor who would be following in Christian Bale’s footsteps and playing our new Batman. At the time, I argued that it was pointless to be upset over a casting decision for a take on a character we know nothing about, and now a few weeks out from the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there’s certainly a feeling in the air that Affleck will, indeed, make a terrific Batman, and even a desire to see him continue on with his own franchise.
But how did his casting come about, and why did he agree to step into such big shoes in the first place? Speaking with EW, Affleck says it was Zack Snyder’s overall vision for the DC Cinematic Universe that won him over:
“Initially I took the idea of doing Batman in the abstract. I was sort of uncertain about it. I went in and looked at Zack’s long-term worldview and the take he had on this character. It’s within the kind of canon of Batman, and the part of the Batman canon that he chose and the way that he saw taking it long-term, that was interesting to me. And the partner that he chose in telling this story is Chris Terrio [who won an Oscar for his screenplay for Argo]. Chris Terrio wrote not only this movie, but he wrote Justice League, and he also helped the long-term vision.”
Indeed, while Man of Steel scribe David S. Goyer wrote the initial script for Batman v Superman, Warner Bros. subsequently brought on Oscar-winning Argo scribe Chris Terrio to do further work and, seemingly satisfied with the result, signed him to pen Justice League. Affleck says Terrio’s penchant for political thrillers and non-comics background perfectly compliments Snyder’s inclination towards the fanboy world, grounding these superhero movies in a dramatic realism that makes them stand out. It seemed like more than a coincidence that Affleck and Terrio came aboard around the same time, but Affleck maintains that’s exactly what it was, pointing out that WB hired Terrio to write Argo before he was aboard that project so the studio was already quite familiar—and happy—with his work.
But in terms of bringing a new Batman to audiences, Affleck reiterated that the prospect of playing a more grizzled version of the character was appealing, as was the unique opportunity to play Batman in a feature film universe that includes other superheroes:
“What I wanted was to create a Batman that was sort of at the end of his rope physically and psychologically and emotionally, a guy who was beaten down by the world, a guy who was a little bit more of a slugger, who has more gray in his hair, and who was questioning whether the whole journey that he lived as Batman was in fact even worth it, given that he was not superhero, but now had to face a super-being, which none of the other Batmans had to confront in the movie world. It’s an interesting thing to combine, because in the Nolan Batmans, which are the defining Batmans — so magnificent — there are no other superheroes. It’s just this guy. He never has to reconcile who he is with this idea that there are all these other people who can do these supernatural things. Having to confront that and having to deal with that is my contribution to the character.”
Affleck thinks Batman’s reaction to Superman’s presence, and the collateral damage that ensued at the end of Man of Steel, is entirely reasonable and, in some ways, relatable, and also spoke about the cost of being Batman, specifically regarding the death of Robin:
“He’s bitterly disappointed in the past that he’s lost this guy who fought by his side. That character’s death must have been devastating to him, and he’s suffered. We get the sense that he’s suffered a lot of devastating losses before this movie even starts.”
But Batman isn’t all doom and gloom, and the shining beacon of hope in Batman v Superman appears to be Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman:
“It inspires in him the idea that well, if there’s one of these kinds of people out there, then maybe there are in fact more. If there are more, then maybe that’s hopeful and also terrifying to him, because then they could make humans even more powerless — or they could serve on our side. You’ve got to remember that Batman is the world’s greatest detective, and if he suspects that there may be more, and if he suspects in particular that Diana may be somebody special, he gets inspired.”
There have been reports that Affleck may not only star in a future standalone Batman movie, but might also direct. The actor/filmmaker declines to commit (at least publicly), but admits a new Batman movie is definitely in the cards:
“There’s definitely willingness and a will and a desire to make a Batman movie on the part of Warner Brothers. It’s in development, and right now I’m really focused on finishing Live By Night. That’s where my focus is, and I tend to be a one movie at a time guy. So, when I’m finished with this movie, I’ll then focus on my next movie and figure out what that will be.”
Live by Night, which recently wrapped production, is Affleck’s long-awaited directorial follow-up to Argo, and while I’m mighty eager to see what Affleck brings to a prohibition-era crime film, I’m equally curious to see what Affleck could do as a director within the realm of a standalone Batman movie. With Live by Night not set for release until 2017 it may be some time before we get a firm word, but here’s hoping.
For more on Batman v Superman, peruse our recent coverage below. The film hits theaters on March 25th.
- Why Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor (Might Be) the Villain We Deserve
- Henry Cavill Talks ‘Man of Steel’ Controversy, Says Superman Is Still an Amateur in ‘Batman v Superman’
- Batman Gets Punchy, Alfred Gets Sassy in New ‘Batman v Superman’ TV Spot
- ‘Batman v Superman’ Box Office Tracking at $140 Million Opening
- ‘Batman v Superman’ R-Rated Version Details Revealed; Which Character Was Cut from Theatrical?