I have come to praise Batfleck, not to bury him. Though he only played Batman in two movies (and camoed in Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman) Ben Affleck‘s version of the Caped Crusader was not terrible. He just wasn’t given a chance to be in any good Batman movies. But now, if Affleck ever was going to make a good Batman movie, we’ll never see it.
On Wednesday, Affleck confirmed he was passing the Bat-torch to another (as-yet-unnamed) actor for the 2021 film called The Batman. The movie will be directed by Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves, though at one point in time, was nearly directed by Affleck himself. But, after the disappointing reviews and box office returns for both Batman Vs. Superman and Justice League, it seems that Affleck has decided to walk away from the cape.
When Ben Affleck was cast as Batman back in 2013, a certain quarter of comic book fans freaked out, declaring him totally wrong for the part. And in some ways, that unfair vitriol seemed to harm the reception of both the big superhero movies Affleck played Batman in. But the thing is, Affleck’s Batman was by no means terrible. This wasn’t George Clooney bad, even though overgrown fanboys like to pretend it was. No. Affleck’s Batman was fine and in fact, kind of interesting. He just wasn’t ever in a good Batman movie as Batman. He’s kind of like the Timothy Dalton of Batman actors in this way. Dalton is no one’s favorite Bond, and that’s probably because he was never in a great Bond film. Ditto for Affleck as Batman, only imagine if Timothy Dalton’s Bond had had to share the screen with like three other secret agents in each of his Bond movies. This is what happened to Ben Affleck’s Batman. He was never given a chance to have his own movie, and thus, we never really got a sense for what his old, grizzled, and cynical Batman would have been like in a solo film.
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) January 31, 2019
Leaving his personal life aside, Ben Affleck is a great actor. He’s also gone from being the guy who embarrassed himself in Gigli to the guy who was fantastic in Argo and Gone Girl. His Batman came out of those later, more mature roles and the scripts and direction were never quite worthy of what he was trying to do.
In short, Ben Affleck was trying to play Batman as a single dad, who has lost his son — Robin — years before, and barely has the strength to carry on. He’s older than the other superheroes and not sure what he believes in anymore. This was interesting stuff, and we only saw a glimmer of how good it could have been in Batman Vs. Superman and Justice League. So, when The Batman recasts the titular role yet-again, the zeitgeist will have lost angry-dad Batman, and gained…well…we don’t know yet.
Ben Affleck was not the best Batman. That’s a three-way tie between Adam West, Michael Keaton, and Christian Bale. But, for a time, he was a strange, cranky Dad-Batman. For that — and for the potential movies he never got to do — his Bat will be missed.