Earlier this week the executive producer of Batman v Superman, Michael Uslan, revealed the answer to a question that many had been asking ever since it was revealed that the new movie would be inspired by The Dark Knight Returns. How old is Batman?
The Dark Knight Returns series features Batman in his mid-fifties, struggling with retirement and (obviously) choosing to don the cape again to take on some of his best-known enemies. However, Uslan revealed that this will not be the case for Dawn of Justice, and that while we will see our oldest on-screen Batman yet, he will not be quite that old.
To go back to the original thought of Bruce Wayne in his mid-40s, I think he’s going to be extraordinary.
Some fans have been less-than-thrilled at the news, as many were hoping for a closer adherence to the Dark Knight Returns story, but I personally believe that it was the best possible choice for this latest incarnation of Batman.
We Don't Need Another Origin Story
Batman has long been one of DC's leading superheroes, and he's got the film history to prove it. He's been gracing our screens since the 60s, and at this point, everybody knows who Batman is. There is no denying it, he's truly famous. I think my Grandmother would recognize him (and that's saying something). The downside of being such a popular character for film and TV is that when everybody knows who he is, things risk getting a little...repetitive. We've already seen Bruce Wayne's origins in the last two Batman trilogies (Batman and Batman Begins) and while they may have slightly different takes on the basics, we don't need yet another becoming-batman moment. By choosing a man in his forties, we know that Batman will already have been protecting Gotham city for a decade or more, and there is no need to bring in his backstory yet again. This leaves room for more actual plot, more battle scenes, more movement forward, and that is exactly what I want to see.
It Makes More Sense For Ongoing Projects
It's no secret that DC/WB has a Justice League movie in the works, and they will be carrying over the stars of Dawn of Justice for the project. If our new Batman was already in his mid-fifties, it just wouldn't make sense with plans of at least one (and hopefully many) future team-ups. If a significantly older Batman were to come into play, no matter how much tech he may have to rely on, he just wouldn't last long enough in the franchise. Having a much older Bruce Wayne works for the Dark Knight Returns, but lets not forget how that ends! (And how similar the ending is to the end of the Dark Knight trilogy, sans Superman. Been there, done that.) Bruce Wayne in his mid-forties can take on many of the elements of the original DKR character, but still has the youth and staying power to take him through sequels.
It Suits The Actor Perfectly
Leaving aside for the moment whether or not Ben Affleck is right for the role (we've got him now, so may as well put that debate to rest!) it makes a lot of sense to keep the character and actor's ages consistent. Affleck is 41. That means that with this as the opening movie to JLA and hopefully multiple follow-ups, he can pull off the older look now, and still look the part in ten years time.
It Appeals To Older Fans
We've come a long way since the days where admitting a love for comic books as an adult got you some serious sideways looks. Finally, studios are realizing how many of the fans aren't just taking their kids along, but want to see their favorite characters on screen for themselves. Having an older superhero makes it a little more relatable, and having two main characters in different decades of their lives is an incredibly smart move. For kids, anyone over 21 is old, so it really doesn't matter to them what the exact age is, but it makes a difference to the rest of us. Superheroes in their early thirties are great, until you yourself are that age or older. It's fantastic to know that now I've got more time before I'm older than the characters I'm watching.
Most Importantly: It Makes Sense For Zack Snyder's Vision
No amount of fan-appeal, future plans or appropriate casting can take the place of the vision of the movie, and this is one that Snyder has had for a long time. Last year, he talked about the balance he wanted to find between the classically young and charming Wayne, and a Batman old enough to take Superman on.
[Affleck] has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne.
It's clear to me that we will be seeing a Batman who is choosing to take on Superman because he sees him as reckless, possibly dangerous, and in need of either guidance or control. There are a lot of possible theories, but this would seem to confirm that Batman's reasons for getting embroiled in this fight are to do with their respective maturity as superpowers. We'll be seeing a continuation of Cavill's Man of Steel character, who is still relatively new to this whole superhero game, as compared to a far more experienced Batman.
I feel that this may lead to a very interesting variant on the usual good vs evil dynamic, with the battle being between the obsessive, jaded vigilante and the younger man fighting for the honor of his lost people. The really fantastic twist to that being that Superman has already killed, whereas killing violates Batman's most basic principle.
As a lead-in to a Justice League movie, we may also see this as the catalyst that starts Batman cataloging and tracking the other superheroes in the world. The combined threat of Superman, appearance of Wonder Woman and realization of his own aging could be the perfect storm to plant the idea of the Justice League in his mind.
Of all the various Bruce Waynes that we have seen so far, how do you feel about this older incarnation? Did DC make the right choice, or would you have preferred a different age?