“There was a time above… a time before… there were perfect things… diamond absolutes. But things fall… things on earth. And what falls… is fallen. In the dream, it took me to the light. A beautiful lie” -Bruce Wayne/Batman, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
In many ways, the beginning of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman seemed like a diamond absolute. He’s a great actor, writer, and director. He seemed like he was going to turn in some great work that would change the face of Batman forever. His Batman was older and not so wiser. He had been damaged from his experiences as Batman. He lost one of the Robins, due to his war against The Joker and Harley Quinn. All of this was canon. Everything was different from the Batman we knew in the Nolan trilogy but it was still true to the character in the comics. It was going to be interesting to see his adventures at this point in his life. What could lead Affleck’s Batman to this point in his life?
There was part of the intrigue about this particular Batman. You started at the end of his career. You had multiple timelines because of that, which you could turn to. It would have been interesting to see what exactly happened to that Robin and why. It was heavily said to be Dick Grayson but many of us who like the second Robin were hoping for Jason Todd. The latter is the infamous Robin who was killed by The Joker and who Batman was just minutes from having saved. It was one of the most defining moments of the legacy of Batman.
For this writer, it represents something that had been cinematic since first reading the stories in the comics. While that would have been one of the many interesting elements of this Batman (since Affleck could portray a younger Batman too), there was plenty to watch in the present. The world that Affleck and Zack Snyder, the director, set up was one of intrigue. It was a Batman that disliked Superman because of what he did to Gotham and the rest of the world in his battle against General Zod.
This was Justice League Batman for the first time in the movies. We were seeing a Batman interact with those who were more powerful than him and his mindset regarding them. He did not trust them and there was plenty more we could have gotten with that. If you know the story where Batman creates contingency plans for all the heroes in the Justice League in case they go rogue, that’s definitely one direction they might have taken Affleck’s Batman. Complete with a great Alfred Pennyworth in Jeremy Irons, you had the makings for a fascinating world.
There was no saying that Affleck could not have portrayed an older Batman than the one he was portraying. They could have made him older and introduced him to Terry McGinnis/Batman Beyond. Think Blade Runner meets Batman. In Batman Beyond, Wayne gives up the Bat-cowl and decides to retire. He remains dormant in his mansion until McGinnis comes his way one night. McGinnis is able to relate to Wayne when his father is killed. Wayne also sees within McGinnis potential he himself once had as a young man. In many ways, this could have been another direction for the franchise.
Affleck has been getting older and he certainly still can portray a young Batman. Yet, a Bruce Wayne that was no longer in action but giving direction to a younger Batman would have been a direction any filmmaker could have gone. When one looks at Affleck’s tenure as Batman, one can compare it to Timothy Dalton’s James Bond 007 tenure. Both actors were in the respective roles for about the same time and ended up departing the roles for various reasons. Dalton’s Bond has found a new audience as time has gone on.
People have seen his Bond as a precursor to Daniel Craig’s in many ways. For Affleck, it will likely be much the same. While people criticize his Batman for killing (though he is not supposed to do this, he has done this in virtually every outing), it is still a very intriguing take on the character. Audiences lost a great Batman when Affleck retired from the role. It will only be left to time to fully appreciate what he did with the role and what could have been with his tenure as the caped crusader.