Since he was chosen to succeed Christian Bale in the most important Batman role ever, Ben Affleck has remained silent on his version of this iconic character. I mean, can you blame him. When it was first announced that he was taking over the mantle of the Bat, the whole net went berserk. A flood of negativity washed over the news as the realization that fan favorite Christian Bale would not be standing opposite Henry Cavill, ever.
Whether it was Christian’s choice or the studio, the Bale era was most definitely over. The debate raged on months after the announcement with many a naysayer petitioning for the studio to sack Affleck and choose Bale, but then the images of Ben Affleck in the suit came out.
The mood went from nay to yay almost right away, as the truth became abundantly clear. Ben Affleck is arguably the most accurate modern Batman onscreen...ever. Adam West was 60s swing, but not the Dark Knight. Michael Keaton was too short, but his tone as Batman was right. Val Kilmer was more Jean Paul Valley than Bruce Wayne, George Clooney had a good look, but the tone to his Batman was all wrong. Christian Bale's tone was spot on, but although he came close, he didn’t hit the mark physically. He was all armor.
Ben Affleck seems to be fitting into the cowl in every imaginable way so far. In a recent interview with the LA TIMES-Ben finally opened up about the role and everything that came with it.
LA TIMES: Ben, when it was announced you were playing Batman, the Internet went nuts — and not in the most favorable way. Were you prepared at all for that reaction?
Affleck: Yeah, I wasn't totally up to speed with the extent to which the Internet can react to this stuff, and Warner Bros. was like, "Look, we just want to give you a little heads-up." And they kind of briefed me on the reactions to some past casting choices: negative reactions to Heath [Ledger] being cast as Joker and other past stuff I wasn't even aware of.
In my experience, the truth is, if your work is good, people are going to like it. If it's bad, people won't. The rest of it is just speculation. It's like when a team drafts a player: Fans can speculate, but you've got to wait until the season starts to see how they play.
Did the negativity hurt your feelings at all?
Affleck: I'm pretty grown up about this stuff. If I had my feelings getting hurt about stuff that was said on the Internet, I would have been gone a long time ago, my friend. [Laughs]
LA TIMES: Ben, you've said you were initially reluctant about playing Batman. You once said starring in "Daredevil" "inoculated" you from ever playing another superhero.
Affleck: I just thought it wasn't a good fit. But I went in and met with Zack and saw this kind of visual 360 of posters and drawings and action figures and animatics — and I was totally blown away. All of the sudden I saw something I'd never seen before and hadn't even imagined.
LA TIMES: This genre is the biggest forum for telling stories in the world right now. You get the biggest megaphone. But this movie is using the genre to explore really interesting themes. And just for me personally — you mentioned "Daredevil" — I thought, 'I want to be in one of these movies that works.'
There have been several actors who've played Batman over the years. How did you set about making him your own?
Affleck: You're right, he's been played by a number of great actors — obviously most recently by Christian [Bale], who's an amazing actor and was directed by Chris Nolan, who's a genius. You don't want to just try to do that because you're not going to live up to it. So the idea is to do something different but that also exists within the canonical realm of what is still considered Batman.
What I liked about Zack's vision for it is that it's sort of an existential Batman. He's a guy who's not actually in the throes of being Batman but looking back and asking himself, 'Was it worth it?' He's a graying Batman and more of a slugger and more of a man because he's more vulnerable. He's feeding some hole inside him — [burning a brand into] criminals at night, going to these underground fights, having some woman in his bed from some random encounter. He's functioning, but not in a healthy way. He's a haunted and broken guy.
LA TIMES: The first time we see Batman in this movie, it almost plays like a scene in a horror movie.
Affleck: Exactly. It's like out of "Se7en" or "Aliens" or something, which is a really different vibe. My son still watches the Adam West "Batman" [TV series]. It's a far cry from where it started.
Ben also talked with EW about Robins death in this new universe and how it affected the Dark Knight. Affleck also addressed Batman's "dislike" for the Man of Steel.
EW: He had a Robin at one point, and we don’t know exactly which Robin that was, but we learned he died.
Affleck: He’s bitterly disappointed in the past that he’s lost this guy who fought by his side. That character’s death must have been devastating to him, and he’s suffered. We get the sense that he’s suffered a lot of devastating losses before this movie even starts.
EW: And Superman’s presence is confusing to the our world. Who is this guy?
Affleck: We often fall back on our haunches and want to arm ourselves or we want to attack, so I don’t think it’s a very farfetched reaction that Bruce has to the arrival of Superman in the world. It’s not like we all know Superman’s a good guy, he’s been in comic books since the fifties and he’s standing for truth, justice, and the American way. The truth is, a super-being showed up and was in some fights with some other super-beings and a lot of people were killed. I think a tremendous amount of controversy surrounds that. You figure that a lot of people think, “This guy should be locked up.”
EW: Your Batman has been doing this for more than a decade or so, maybe even longer than that. But he doesn’t feel like things are better. Is Batman projecting some of his own anger toward himself on Superman?
Affleck: Yeah, he’s projecting in some ways his own sense of failure, his own sense of disillusionment, his own cynicism onto Superman, having at one point been certainly much more idealistic about what he was doing. He’s also always been kind of a dark guy. You can’t go out at night and avenge crime the way he does, obviously, without a darker view of the world, but you can see that this probably contributes in some degree to the greater cycle of violence. And that doesn’t put an end to crime. There’s a line about weeds just cropping up and criminals are like weeds, you just pull more of them and they grow back. He’s very disillusioned and very bitter.