The Dawn Of Hate
In the summer of 2013, the announcement of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice had fans so excited that they could barely contain themselves. Soon after that, the casting rumors and hopeful wishing began. Would it be Christian Bale back to reprise his role? Would it be someone new that we all love? This promptly ended when it was announced that Ben Affleck would be the next Batman. To say that the internet exploded would be an understatement. Vast waves of hate cascaded over the reveal and was widely regarded as a bad move.
We’ve seen in the past how “fans” can overreact to casting. The two go-to examples are if course, Heath Ledger's Joker and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Those turned out quite well as it were. So the next year or so the world went through its stages of mourning.
The Ben Affleck hate dissolved over time. The casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman helped to quell the rage towards the future Batman. The bone of contention for Affleck naysayers was his portrayal of Daredevil over 10 years ago. In fairness Ben Affleck was hardly the problem with that movie.
In the positive camps, fans were championing Affleck's most recent films. The Town and Oscar-winning film Argo were proof of Ben Affleck's evolution as an actor, not to mention, director. Surely, most of the hate can be contributed to the success and popularity of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. It was fairly recent (the last film The Dark Knight Rises was released in 2012). Christian Bale was this new generations' Batman, as Michael Keaton was to the prior. Change is scary, people do not like it. Casting old characters with new actors is no exception.
The Road To Acceptance
So onward we move to the first footage of the highly anticipated film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Up until this point Zack Snyder had released pictures of Batfleck in his glorious new suit reminiscent of Frank Miller’s classic graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns.
These images helped move the narrative to a slightly more positive tone. Some complained that he was too big and bulky to be Batman, as always, If it’s not one thing it's another. The first official teaser trailer didn’t show much if the caped crusader however, it did exactly what it was supposed to do, tease. We did however get to see some brooding which is what you expect of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The most intriguing clip was Batfleck in his battle armor ripped right from the pages of The Dark Knight Returns. The teaser ends with the line “Do you bleed? You will.” This look helped steer towards some love for our new Batman.
In the year of our Lord 2015, San Diego Comic-Con was the perfect platform to launch the first official trailer (and launch it they did). The unveiling helped expose the mass populace to the DCEU's Batman. Much different than any other incarnation, this Batman is weathered and worn down after 20 years of fighting crime in Gotham. We also see how the events of Man of Steel effected Bruce Wayne as he heroically charges headfirst into the wreckage that was Metropolis. With the help of Alfred Pennyworth’s (Jeremy Irons) voiceover, it told of the rage growing within Batman. This rage was felt, be it ever so brief. The line: “He has the power to wipe out the entire human race...we have to destroy him” showed a bit of the drive leading into the clash of these two iconic heroes. The trailer was welcomed with positive response. Not all positive of course, but progress not perfection is a good phrase to encapsulate the overall attitude.
The Proof Is In The Pudding
Time went on and Ben Affleck support did increase. Not exponentially of course, but certainly leaps and bounds above the initial fan response. The tide-turning event would be the theatrical release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film opened March of 2016 with a poor critical response and mixed reviews among audience.
The theatrical release has its issues. It did, however, cement one clear fact that Ben Affleck is Batman/Bruce Wayne. His portrayal garnered nods and critical praise. Ben Affleck showed his acting chops and was deemed by some as the best part of the film. All the casting fears proved to be unwarranted when he actually donned the mantle; the transformation was complete. He had gained the majority of trust in a very volatile fan base. The film did one more great thing for the DCEU: It made us excited for the future of this shared universe.
The Bat Stands For Hope
The hype for Batman in future properties is very real. Justice League is right around the corner. The end of BvS told of a future in which Batman is seeking out Meta Humans to come together and fight an enemy that none of them can defeat alone. This was solidified during San Diego Comic-Con 2016 when Warner Brothers released the first trailer for Justice League.
Tonally, it is different from Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. That’s overall a good thing. Batman seems to have taken Superman's sacrifice to heart. We are beginning to see a more hopeful Batman/Bruce Wayne, past all of the darkness we saw in the previous film. Evolution is key for this new Batman. He is facing things that we have never seen in any other live action iteration of the character face: aliens, magic, meta-humans, and monsters threaten him and everything he holds dear. So naturally — as Batman does — he adapts to overcome. Ben Affleck has the chops to follow suit.
One facet of Ben Affleck that is never in doubt is his ability as a director. He has proven himself with Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo. Warner Brothers made the best possible move regarding this when they announced that they have tasked Ben Affleck to direct the first solo Batman film in this universe. This announcement was met with overwhelming approval. It gave fans hope for the future and what it holds for the character. No release date has been set, but we have gotten little nuggets about the movie. In a move of pure brilliance, Ben Affleck took to Instagram and released footage of the fan favorite villain Deathstroke. This footage rumored to be from Batman's first solo film.
Faith in Batfleck is all but cemented. Sure he still has his nay-sayers, but nothing is ever 100 percent across the board. However, in the three years since the announcement of Ben Affleck being cast as Batman, the tide has turned overwhelmingly in his favor. Hate and grievance have been replaced with hope and gratitude. The vast majority of fans have rallied behind Affleck. Seeing as he is the adhesive character in the new DCEU, this is great on every level.
Sound off! How do you feel about Ben Affleck's role in the DCEU? Has it changed over time? Let it be known in the comments below.