When Ben Affleck was officially announced as the next actor to don Batman's legendary cowl the reaction was... mixed, to say the least.
The ever-so slightly derogatory term "Batfleck" was coined to describe the hero, and the first look at him in full costume standing next to the Batmobile showed us even then that DC are really pushing for something different this time round.
Affleck's Batman, with the thick body, fat bat-symbol and smaller ears, recalls the way Batman appears in Frank Miller's critically acclaimed The Dark Knight Returns. This makes sense given that Zack Synder (director) has previously professed his love for the graphic novel and confirmed that, whilst not a direct adaptation, it will be a core influence upon [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870).
"[The] comic book will influence the history of Batman v. Superman, on which the writer David S. Goyer and myself will work."
The Dark Knight Returns
Even from the trailer, it's easy to see how Miller's comic has influenced the tone of Batman v Superman. Set in a near-future dystopian version of Gotham where crime runs rampant; Batman is ten years retired and 55-year old Bruce Wayne struggles with the reemergence of the Bat persona from within himself.
At the beginning of the novel Bruce is at his lowest point, hating himself for his weakness against the ongoing tide of crime taking over the city.
Eventually, following a mental breakdown/breakthrough into clarity, he realises that he can't fight the Batman persona and that Gotham needs him, so returns to fighting crime. Civil war is on the streets; the Mutant gang wage war against the city and old enemies come crawling back into the spotlight as Batman remerges. Meanwhile the world holds it's breath as the threat of nuclear war looms in the background, interlaced throughout the narrative of the graphic novel.
Similarly, when Batman V Superman rolls around the world is in chaos as they try to deal with the fallout from Superman's battle with Zod in Man of Steel, and the fear and awe that comes with the knowledge that such a powerful being exists upon Earth. A shot from the trailer pays homage to the cover of The Dark Knight Returns, as Synder is known for adapting frames from comic books into his films.
Batman and Superman end up fighting towards the conclusion of The Dark Knight Returns too, though in this case it's Superman who comes for Batman - intending to stop him on orders from the President, who fears the impact Batman may have.
Affleck On Batman
Initially finding fame as somewhat of a cult actor working closely with Kevin Smith in the 90's, Ben Affleck spent the last decade crawling his way back up as a respected actor after career killing roles in such terrible films as Gigli and Daredevil, and he's really peaking right now following the success of Argo (which he directed as well as starred in) and Gone Girl. In the latter film he portrayed a dual-natured character exuding a captivatingly tense darkness, a trait that no doubt went a way towards his casting here.
“[Affleck] has the experience necessary to paint the picture of an older and more advised man... who bears the scars of a seasoned vigilante while retaining the charm that Bruce Wayne deploys when present in the world." - Synder
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly Batfleck spoke a little about his incarnation of the caped crusader.
"[Batman]'s on the verge of being swallowed up by the anger and the rage that we see haunt this character in the other manifestations of it. But this guy is further down the line and has become more embittered and cynical."
This certainly fits with what we've seen in the trailer, as well as Alfred (Jeremy Iron)'s chilling line of dialogue: "That's how it starts. The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men... cruel."
Likely, Batman will be our good man turned cruel, going after Superman with the single-mindedness that only a man on a mission can possess. How far he is willing to go is yet to be seen, but with the trailer setting a tone perhaps darker than any we've seen before one thing is for sure - it's going to be one hell of a showdown come March 26th when Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice releases in cinemas.