As this fall’s highly-anticipated Justice League movie draws near, many are wondering if any changes are planned for Ben Affleck’s Batman, and how (or if) this will inform his subsequent solo film by director Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes). Traditional depictions of Batman center on the character’s isolated, loner status. He’s typically expressed as a brooding, solo operator who occasionally (and rather questionably) mentors young, aspiring vigilantes on the murderous streets of Gotham City.
Recognizing these contradictions are key to understanding the Batman mythos, which some filmmakers have embraced, such as Chris Nolan’s more nuanced Dark Knight, while others eschewed in favor of hyper-violent, cardboard-cutouts, as evidenced in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman (2016). Long-time Batman fans know that there’s much, much more to explore with this character, and the recent hiring of noted character-whisperer, Joss Whedon, surely speaks to these desires.
Fans and the media generally embraced Affleck’s turn as Batman in Snyder’s film, but the praise largely focused upon the costume, tactics, and violence. Sure, this was an iteration of Batman that felt distinct and fresh — even when it was aping Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns 1986 mini-series — but it sorely lacked the kind of range evident within Nolan’s trilogy.
Us Magazine recently caught up with Affleck to learn what we might expect from Batman in the upcoming Justice League. Particularly, where emotionally does Batman begin, given the tragic events of the previous film:
“In Batman v Superman, he was at the end of his rope. But in Justice League he’s finding hope again. He has to open up and play well with others. He knows he needs them.”
That’s a terse remark, but it strongly implies that Batman realizes he cannot succeed alone, not against the kinds of threats he sees on the horizon. Fair enough, Batman plays chess, he’s several steps ahead of everyone around him, but can he become a reliable teammate or (gasp) a leader? Affleck continues:
“He’s sort of the ultimate loner, but he’s really trying to make it work and develop a good relationship with all of them. He might be a mentor to The Flash.”
This is clearly not the Batman we’re used to; in fact, it’s kind of a leap in characterization from what we saw in Batman v Superman. How does Batman go from hermit to partner in such short order? The answer might lie with Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and her powerful influence on the Bat. Gadot briefly appeared in this interview to share an insight that might help to explain how Batman manages this huge personality shift:
“Since they’ve fought together, they know each other’s strengths. They also understand the hope Superman stood for, that was lost [when he died], so they feel that more than the others.”
Clearly, the loss of Superman was a game-changer for Batman. It yanked him out of his comfort zone and forced him to confront his own limitations and shortcomings. Granted, that’s quite a leap to make too, but Gadot’s comment speaks to Batman’s intelligence and his values — Superman’s sacrifice awoke something in Batman, and that opens the door to so many possibilities down the road. We can’t wait to see the Bat’s transformation!
Justice League stars Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta, Billy Crudup as Henry Allen, Amber Heard as Mera, Kiersey Clemons as Iris West, with J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, and Amy Adams as Lois Lane.
Directed by Zack Snyder (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Man of Steel), the screenplay is by Joss Whedon and Chris Terrio from a story by Snyder and Terrio. Justice League is produced by Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg and Geoff Johns. The executive producers are Jim Rowe, Wesley Coller, Curt Kanemoto, Chris Terrio and Ben Affleck.