I have been an avid Batman-fan since the 1990’s. I remember watching Batman: The Animated Series and it’s subsequent spin-offs. There was really no live-action incarnation of the Caped Crusader that matched what I experienced on that show. It was a perfect blend of action, detective-stuff and pretty mature (for the time) drama. Then along came the (Joel) Schumacher-era of Batman movies; they ranged from okay to absolute garbage.
Then we had the Nolan-era with Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. And even though Christopher Nolan took more of a, lets say grounded and realistic approach. It was missing some of the more fantastical elements from the comics. I still liked it. But it wasn’t MY Batman.
Fast forward to San Diego Comic Con 2013. We got the official announcement that the Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel sequel had turned into a Superman and Batman movie. It was clear from the get go that Christian Bale was out as The Dark Knight. Some rumors at the time suggested Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Karl Urban, one month later we got the confirmation that Ben Affleck had been cast as the World’s Greatest Detective. I remember it like it was yesterday how the internet erupted in anger, disappointment and confusion. The guy from Armageddon? Gigli? He is going to be the Batman?
But I was one of few people online who thought that casting Ben Affleck as Batman was a stroke of genius. He has the physique, the acting chops and the chin. And then we got the first official picture of Ben Affleck in the Batsuit and I was so happy that they ditched the black armor from the Nolan trilogy and opted for a more comic book-accurate look. The dark grey suit and a big black bat symbol on his chest that resembled the chest emblem from famous Frank Miller graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns.
All this led to me loving Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This now felt to me as the perfect Batman for the big screen and Ben Affleck killed it in that movie. He struck a perfect balance between the Bruce Wayne persona and the Batman persona. And I liked Justice League for what it was (give us the Snyder Cut!). Still not as good as it had potential to be.
So now here we are. A one billion dollar Aquaman movie and two DCEU movies starring Batman later with mixed receptions, and months of speculation about the future of Batman in the DCEU. Ben Affleck has officially stepped down from the role as Batman in the upcoming standalone movie directed by Matt Reeves. I think personally that it is a shame that he doesn’t get to star in the first true standalone Batman movie in the DCEU. So what should Warner Bros. do?
I think they should recast Affleck for a younger actor in his 20’s or 30’s for the standalone Batman movie; while still keeping Affleck around for movies that takes place in present day; dealing with Justice League and Suicide Squad matters. It would both give Affleck time to do his passion-projects but it also won’t compromise the larger narrative and established universe. They can have their cake and eat it too. Affleck also has two movies left in his contract which easily could be for the next Justice League (if we will get one) and a cameo in the James Gunn directed Suicide Squad.
Whoever gets to play a younger Batman I will support 100%. We live in an age of superheroes on the big screen. Let us now rejoice all over the internet and in real life; be supportive who ever takes on the cape and cowl. Ben Affleck will always have a special place in my heart as the first TRUE Batman on the big screen.
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