Why I Have Faith In Ben Affleck’s Standalone Batman Film
As a fictional character, Batman has reached the same level of fame as Superman, with even casual film audiences knowing his origin and background. This widespread fame has transformed the DC Comics comic book character into one that has become majorly successful across multiple platforms, mediums, establishing itself into the popular culture all around the world. The character of Batman has been used to spawn into many successful live action feature films, animated films, toy franchises, video games, a currently successful TV show, even wildly spinning off into a series of Batman online slots brilliantly developed by Playtech. No really.
It’s undeniable that a character such as this has permeated every facet of our culture, through its various versions and interpretations, and has now become a household name. Its most recent iteration was a live action version appearing in Zack Snyder’s ‘Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice’, (my Review here) played by Ben Affleck as part of DC Comics larger extended film universe. The appearance of this version of Batman was so successful, that he will now be getting his own spin-off solo movie, simply entitled ‘The Batman’. However, if rumours are to be believed, then the movie is in trouble.
There have been third-hand accounts of Warner Brothers, the studio producing ‘The Batman’, not caring about the content of the film, given that the brand name of Batman will make enough Box Office figures to be deemed a success regardless. While studios not caring about quality and producing movies for money is a perspective that is true in many cases, I feel that ‘The Batman’ would be a different situation given the filmmaker behind it, as well as the story being told on screen in the larger context.
Quite possibly the best thing about the upcoming Batman movie is that it is being written and directed by Ben Affleck himself. While many have been critical of Affleck’s acting over the course of his career, the one thing that’s gone undisputed is his capabilities as a filmmaker. His most recent directorial project, ‘Live By Night’ is in the good graces of potential audiences thus far, despite negative reactions to Affleck’s role, solely due to the fact that he has also directed the film.
Having an Oscar award winning writer-director like Affleck taking on the Batman franchise should intrigue and reassure fans that the franchise is in the right hands. While Snyder spearheaded the DC Extended Universe with ‘Man Of Steel’, (my Review here) and then with ‘Batman V. Superman’, audiences have begun to get wary of his hyper stylized action and set pieces. It’s also been announced recently that on top of also directing ‘Justice League’, Snyder may remain on board for the sequel to that film as well.
Therefore, having a critically acclaimed filmmaker like Ben Affleck handling one of the most iconic characters in pop culture should provide fans with a collective sigh of relief.
Batman has been likened to being a more mature comic book character, even during his comic book run. Dressed in (usually) monochromatic clothing sporting a very dire viewpoint of the world, Batman has always been a pretty dark character. The latest iteration of him however in ‘Batman V. Superman’, irked audiences showing him hurting and possibly killing without a second thought. Many angered fans considered this version as not being an accurate reflection of the character.
However, the depiction of any character needs to reflect the story being told. The film featured a version of the character that was bitter and frustrated with his profession, not having the consideration to stick to his own ideals. His experiences throughout the film though softened his approach as we see a more optimistic or idealistic Batman by the end and even in the ‘Justice League’ trailer, (my breakdown here) rallying other heroes to save mankind.
Affleck’s other films have always had these characters who shine the light of hope in a story or setting that is morbidly dark; such as Casey Affleck’s character in ‘Gone Baby Gone’, or even Affleck’s own characters in ‘The Town’ and ‘Argo’. So it will definitely be interesting to see Affleck write, direct and perform a Batman who seeks to redeem himself more so than avenge his parents.
A movie studio prioritizing box office success over critical reception of their product is a pretty accurate perspective. At the end of the day, the business model of a studio almost demands that to be the priority. However, putting it into context, all the movies in the DCEU thus far have definitely made money; ‘Man Of Steel’, ‘Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice’ and ‘Suicide Squad’. But more so than its commercial success, all movies have taken a lot of heat for the quality of the storytelling in the films themselves. And the studios and makers have since then made attempts at course correcting to create a quality product than chase the dollar amount.
Given the place of Batman in the DCEU right now, to address the critical reception of the franchise, an Affleck directed Batman movie needs to establish or clarify the actions of the character in the settings that we’ve seen thus far. More context needs to be provided for the murderous Batman we saw in ‘Batman V. Superman’, and his transformation into the lynchpin of the Justice League, (as he is being shown in the ‘Justice League’ Comic Con trailer) needs to be better explored with the standalone Batman film.
If the people responsible for ‘The Batman’ make a conscious effort to focus on those elements, than audiences will definitely get a Batman movie that is not only financially successful, but one that has lasting critical impact as well.
What do you expect to see from ‘The Batman’ written, directed and starring Ben Affleck?