When news broke back in August of 2013 that Ben Affleck had been cast as the new Batman on film, I was absolutely ecstatic.
See, I’m a huge Ben Affleck fan. Mostly as a director, but I’ve enjoyed many of his acting performances too. Speaking of Affleck the director…
When that news broke about him being WB’s new Batman, the first thing I thought was, “really good casting.” The second thing that crossed my mind was, “He’s going to write and direct the next solo Batman movie and my wish is coming true!”
And of course, that second thought of mine came to be…and then it didn’t.
Affleck walking away from helming THE BATMAN was actually the beginning of the end for the era of “Batfleck.”
In due time, Warner Bros. hired Matt Reeves to replace Affleck as THE BATMAN‘s writer and director and gave him a lot — if not total — creative control.
As a result, the Affleck/Johns/Terrio script was jettisoned (pun intended) and thus, a brand-spanking new version of THE BATMAN came to be and ALL that entails.
The bottom line here folks is that once Affleck quit/was replaced as director of THE BATMAN, his time as the cinematic Dark Knight was over.
Yes, the water then went under the bridge.
Ben Affleck — casting-wise — was a damn fine choice as Batman and I supported WB’s selection of him with open arms.
If you’re a longtime reader of BOF, you know that Affleck was my #1 choice to follow Christopher Nolan as director of Batman on film.
In fact, I’ve wanted Affleck to portray Batman in a movie since the late 1990s when doing a YEAR ONE film was being kicked around.
Yes, I was a Batfleck fan when being a Batfleck fan wasn’t cool.
Stature-wise, his 6′ 4″ frame is roughly the same as Bruce Wayne in the comics. He’s got the square jaw, cleft chin, movie star good looks, and sported the most comic book-accurate Batsuit we’ve seen in live-action other than the one sported by Adam West.
I’ve said this many times, but I’ll say it again: Ben Affleck was the most physically-suited actor to play Batman in a live-action film…to date, of course.
But, a square jaw and comic book-accurate Batsuit does not a Batman make.
While Affleck’s performance in BATMAN v SUPERMAN was very good, the film’s depiction of Batman as a mid-40s, burned-out, pill-popping, boozing, murdering A-hole definitely affected the audience’s overall impression of this version of Batman on film.
This Batman on film was NOT likable, endearing, inspiring, and certainly, not a hero.
Is this Affleck’s fault? No, it’s not.
He didn’t write the script or direct the film. He was simply an actor hired for a role. But like a quarterback on a football team, it might not be his fault that his team lost the game, but he’ll always be the one that’s blamed.
Regardless, I’ll give the man his due and say he did a solid job of acting in BvS. But, in JUSTICE LEAGUE, he unequivocally did not.
While JL isn’t all that good (neither was BvS), Affleck seemed disinterested and seemingly sleepwalked through the whole damn thing; which, in turn, made things worse when it came to the public perception of The Batfleck. This didn’t help either…
ALL of this combined — poor audience reaction to BvS/JL, BvS characterization of Batman, Affleck drama, JL bombing, etc. — is why the Batfleck era has seemingly come to an end.
Look, if you truly loved/love Ben Affleck as Batman — not simply because he was the most comic book accurate Batman on film, but also due to Batman’s characterization in BvS and Affleck’s performance — good for you!
Guess what? No one can or should be allowed to take that away from you. You’ll always be able to watch Batfleck on Blu-ray (or via streaming nowadays, it seems) anytime you want.
And if you’re bummed that the age of Batfleck is likely over, believe it or not, I’m with you.
Remember, I’ve long been a Ben Affleck fan (and I’m still one) and I don’t know if anyone was happier than yours truly when he was cast as Batman. Moreover, I was even more stoked when it was finally announced he’d direct a solo Batman movie (though I think that was F’ed from the get-go and I’m one of the reasons why).
So yeah, not getting the chance to see him as Batman in a standalone Batman film is a bummer.
However, I’m also 100% of the belief that it’s time to move on from Affleck in the role because it’s what’s best for the Batman film franchise (and for Matt Reeves’ film too).
Like it not, Affleck’s Batman (and sadly, Henry Cavill’s Superman) is toxic and would be hard to sell to the general audience going forward. That’s the cold, hard truth and no amount of execution, characterization, direction, etc. is going to matter.
Somewhere in the multiverse, or an alternate timeline, Warner Bros. followed up 2013’s MAN OF STEEL with a sequel titled SUPERMAN three years later.
In between those two Super-movies, Ben Affleck was tapped to write, direct, and star in a standalone Batman movie and fans everywhere rejoiced (as opposed to having online conniption fits)!
Affleck’s film, THE BATMAN, hit theaters a year after SUPERMAN during the Summer of 2017 and was a huge hit and would go on to spawn several Bat-sequels.
Then came BATMAN & SUPERMAN: WORLDS FINEST, several solo DC movies, and then ultimately, THE JUSTICE LEAGUE.
Thus, a shared DC cinematic universe was created properly and all was good.
But alas, we live in our universe/timeline and that’s not how it turned out.
Oh Batfleck, we hardly knew ye. – Bill “Jett” Ramey