Blast from the Past: My Hopes for Ben Affleck, DC’s Next Batman

Originally published by Amazing Stories on July 14, 2014. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. (http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2014/07/hopes-ben-affleck-dcs-next-batman/)

Until very recently I have been a HUGE Marvel Comics fan and always ignored anything DC. Thanks to my girlfriend I have garnered a newfound love and respect for certain DC characters, particularly Batman. I have seen the original two serials from the 40s, every episode (and movie) from the campy Adam West TV show, the Burton/Schumacher series, and Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. I’ve also recently started playing the Arkham video games and started brushing up on the few Batman comics in my collection. While I am by NO means a Batman expert (I consider myself simply a minor fan) I have seen enough renditions of the Dark Knight in both film and comic form to know what is good and what is bad, and what has been done and what has not. With Ben Affleck cast as the newest incarnation, set to face off against The Man of Steel in 2016’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice DC has a chance to do some potentially great things with the character. However, there’s also plenty of room to make mistakes, especially since audiences will be introduced to this new Batman in a Superman film and not a film of his own, as we’ve been accustomed to with Marvel’s crossovers.

Here are some of the many possible ways DC can make “Batfleck” great.

  • Give him a great arsenal. Let’s face it—as much as I love Batman, and as much as any fan might love Batman we all admit that physically he stands no chance (by himself) against Superman. Superman has super strength, flight capability, freeze breath, and heat vision in his arsenal. Batman has trained himself in various martial arts and is at the peak of human conditioning, but even alongside his great intellect these are not enough for a physical confrontation with Superman. In order to face him on equal terms, Batman is going to need some great gadgets. In the comic The Dark Knight Returns Batman uses a powered exo-skeleton Batsuit to battle Superman. One of the things I did not like about the Nolan trilogy is that even though Bruce Wayne had some really cool Batsuits and technology at his disposal when it came to gadgets and weapons they really fell flat, as opposed to the science fictional arsenal of the Burton/Schumacher movies. I really hope that they let Batman have similar tools for his battle with Superman. If the filmmakers hope to convey realism, then it’s only fair that they give Batman anything he needs to stand up against Superman.
  • Let him be the world’s greatest detective. In the early serials and the campy TV series of the 60s Batman spent some time in the Batcave looking at clues and determining the location of the criminal or figuring out where he or she would strike next. In the modern films Batman’s fame as a detective is hardly touched upon, and is reduced to watching surveillance footage and (to be fair to The Dark Knight) reconstructing a fragmented bullet to get a fingerprint off of it. Ben Affleck’s character will be living in a world where an alien (Superman) who defies the laws of physics also exists. If the two are going to confront each other then Batman needs to put his detective skills to use and figure out ways to beat Superman. He needs to show Superman that he is the “intellectual Superman” of the group. This way when the time comes for the two to team up and track down a bad guy Batman can use his detective skills to locate the bad guy and save Superman the trouble of flying around all over the place trying to find them himself. If anything it is something that they have not shown in modern times, and would be a new treatment of the character.
  • He needs to be his own Batman. In Man of Steel Zach Snyder attempted to do what Christopher Nolan did with the Dark Knight Trilogy and make his Superman film gritty and realistic. As Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is going to be the official sequel to Man of Steel it is safe to assume that it will follow along that same realistic path. While I am not a fan of studios attempting to make these comic book characters seem plausible, if they choose to do it this was then they have to remember one thing when it comes to the new Batman—he is NOT the same Batman that Christian Bale played. Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight is not going to be an older version of Christian Bale’s, nor is he going to be following the Burton/Schumacher example of having different actors play the same character in different films. This is a chance to, I say this again, explore new grounds with the character and attempt a portrayal that would even make Bob Kane excited. We already know that this version’s Batman is going to be a seasoned, veteran crime fighter and an older, wiser Bruce Wayne. Perhaps what I’m asking is not too much to ask for at all.
  • Give him more screen time than Superman. This is probably going to piss some people off, but I mean it as diplomatically as I can. As I mentioned, Ben Affleck is going to be playing a brand new character, one that has not had the luxury of an origin story or even his own film to give us a sense of what his character is going to be like. You might say, “We already know why Bruce Wayne decided to become Batman. His parents were killed, he was terrified of bats, and he wanted to use that symbol to strike fear into the hearts of the criminals of Gotham City.” That is all fine, well, and good but that does not explain how this version’s Bruce Wayne came to be where he is in life and what makes his Batman the way he is. As an older, more experienced superhero this Batman has most likely already faced off against the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, and possibly even more of his rogue’s gallery that we probably won’t see at all in the film. This is all hypothetical, of course, but seriously. Do you think that Bruce Wayne/Batman became as hardened and experienced as he is going to be in the Superman sequel by battling muggers and bank robbers? Long story short we had a whole movie to introduce us to Superman, and if this Batman is going to also be in the Justice League film then he needs some screen time so that we can get to know him and start making the distinction between him and all the Batmen that have come before.

 

Finally, here is my final request to DC regarding the new Batman in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice:

  • Batman needs to have a fair chance against Superman. After all, the title of the film says “Batman V (meaning VERSUS) Superman”. This implies that the two will at some point, be it in the beginning, ending or throughout the whole movie be duking it out and throwing punches and heat rays back and forth. The title does not say “Batman gets his butt handed to him right away by Superman”. There has been a lot of talk online in forums from fans who claim that they are excited to watch Batman get smacked around by Superman and laugh off Batman fans’ attempts to defend the Caped Crusader. I have the feeling that if and when Batman does defeat Superman in the film that those Superman fans will be as dumbfounded and outraged that a playboy billionaire managed to take down a god-like superhuman. There is little point having the two end up in the same movie combatting each other if the outcome is already “decided.” Surely there are other ways to bring the two heroes together without having one of DC’s most iconic characters get embarrassed on the big screen by another. No. The fact that DC is bringing these two legendary superheroes together and pitting them against each other should be even more of a reason for Batman to have a shot at beating the Last Son of Krypton. If the DC series has any chance of ever outdoing the much more established Marvel Cinematic Universe then this new movie has to blow it out of the water with a force that only Superman could muster. They have to give these two metahumans everything they can so that when the ultimate showdown begins it will be so epic that even Darkseid will be on the edge of his seat (or throne).

And if that happens, then Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will have a good shot at the top of the box office charts, and movie history will once again be made.

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