Warning: This post contains spoilers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Batman has been one of the most universally adored comic book characters since his debut in 1939. The alter ego of Bruce Wayne has always relied on his genius intellect — combined with his immense wealth — to tackle the bad guys of Gotham.
The DCEU's version has added considerable brawn, while also making the Dark Knight even darker. The theatrical release didn't paint him in the most ethical light, but the Batman v Superman ultimate edition brings even more incriminating evidence, painting him as a merciless, cold-blooded killer.
BvS gave audiences a battered and bruised Batman, a beacon of hope who had started to lose hope himself. One particular quote stands out as testament to Wayne's psyche. During a conversation with Alfred, he says:
"20 years in Gotham, Alfred, we've seen what promises are worth. How many good guys are left. How many stayed that way."
The New Brand Of Batman: Cold-Blooded Killer
Much has been made of his kill count throughout the movie, surprising for a character with a no kill rule and strong moral code. Even those Batman fans staying resolute in spite of his casual henchmen-slaying murderous streak may raise an eyebrow at some of the additional material.
A lot of the extra footage provides more context for Clark Kent's journalistic exploration into the backstory of Batman, and shows him uncovering some unsavory reports, as well as providing more elements to the "branding" controversy.
When capturing criminals, he sears a bat symbol into their flesh. This allows Lex Luthor to take advantage, using his shady connections to ensure those with the scar are killed. Additional footage makes it clear that Batman is fully aware the marking will instigate violence to those he punishes.
Is Batman Still Seeking Justice?
Furthermore, when Kent tracks down the girlfriend and son of a criminal who was branded, the girlfriend makes it clear what she thinks of the Caped Crusader. She questions the morality of Batman's crusade:
"They know the mark all over, the guards don't care. One man decides who lives, how is that justice?"
Affleck's Batman is also consumed by the idea of putting a stop to Superman's activity, seen in a way to be lacking in rational thinking, and instead overtaken by burning rage, with little regard for collateral damage along the way.
The "Martha" moment and Superman's eventual death make Bruce seriously reconsider his life choices, and his conversation with Diana Prince at Superman's funeral could imply he'll be a little less trigger happy in time for Justice League.
A 'Freaking Scary' Batman In Suicide Squad
But don't expect a sunny, glass-half-full Batman to emerge too soon: It looks like he's also going to be portrayed as a villain in this summer's Suicide Squad. In an interview with Collider, director David Ayer confirmed we'll see a unique take on the character in his movie. He said:
"All the Batman movies have been from Batman’s point of view. He's the good guy. He's the hero of his own movie in all the movies we've seen. If you look at what Bruce Wayne has done in creating the Batman persona, his idea was to terrorize criminals. It's sort of psychological warfare against criminals.
This wraith that comes in the night and attacks and pulls criminals from society. For the first time, we're seeing Batman from the point of view of the criminals and he's freaking scary."
Let's not forget, this isn't a complete turnaround for the Caped Crusader. While Ben Affleck's gung-ho, morally questionable interpretation is a million miles away from the light-hearted portrayal of the '90s, Christopher Nolan set the Batmobile in motion toward murkier territory, highlighting him as an outcast, more antihero than superhero.
Plus, I can't be the only one who is excited by the prospect of a vengeful, criminal-frightening and unhinged Batman? Despite his darker nature, Affleck was praised for his role in BvS, making his arrival in Suicide Squad eagerly anticipated.
Batfleck isn't the superhero we've come to expect. But perhaps Batman is now the antihero we need.
Do you think the DCEU's dark portrayal of Batman is the right way to go?
Images credited to Warner Bros.