The release of Aquaman in 2018 signaled a departure from the so-called DC Extended Universe as we once knew it. Gone is the dark and moody world of superheroes that was born in Man of Steel.
Instead, Justice League marked a shift in direction that has led to the more colorful, vibrant and humorous universe currently gracing theater screens. Of course, that's not to say that what has come before isn't essential to the DCEU.
Ben Affleck's Batman has been a big part of this shared universe of superheroes. However, while nothing has been confirmed or announced yet, there are increasing concerns that Ben Affleck will be replaced by another actor in writer/director Matt Reeves' upcoming solo Batman film.
But here's the thing: there shouldn't be any reason to switch. Recently, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder shared an old picture of Affleck's Batman on social media platform Vero, where he described the actor as his "perfect Batman." There have been many ups and downs in the saga of Affleck's tenure as the Caped Crusader, but the truth of the matter is that Snyder is right. When it comes to cinematic portrayals of the Dark Knight, Ben Affleck really is the perfect Batman.
The Batman We Deserve
From its inception, it was clear that the so-called DCEU's take on Batman wouldn't be what we expected. Instead of showing us a Batman going through his origin and in his prime, we were introduced to an aging Dark Knight who had already been active for over 20 years.
When we first met him, Affleck's Bruce Wayne was angry, driven and pushed to his limits. While his personal drive was presented differently in the films, these are all qualities essential to the character. At his core, Batman is a dark character fueled by tragedy and loss, and that is exactly what Dawn of Justice gave us.
Affleck's Batman is a larger-than-life presence that lives up to the iconic status of DC's superhero pantheon. In his cinematic appearances, he could stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman. But his body could still break. He could still bleed. While he may be mortal, the DCEU's Batman is the most "superhero" Batman has ever been on the big screen.
He fought Superman, helped in the fight against Doomsday, held his own against the Parademons and was instrumental in defeating the forces of Apokolips. And yet, he was still a dark presence that stalked the rooftops of Gotham, whether he was just a mythical shadow to police officers or blasting his Batmobile in high-speed chases through the streets of his city.
We may not have seen his formative years, but we know that he is intelligent, capable and dangerous. He is a master tactician that almost took out Superman, an expert detective who was able to deceive the KGBeast and track Lex Luthor's Kryptonite, and an efficient fighting machine who can take out an entire warehouse of mercenaries.
As someone who has peak physical training and fighting acumen, as well as the perpetually grumpy attitude to execute those things expertly on the underworld, Ben Affleck's Caped Crusader is the best and most accurate portrayal of Batman we have seen on the big screen yet.
It's Not Just About Batman
In all of his appearances, from Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad to Justice League, Ben Affleck showed that he was just as good as being Batman as he is Bruce Wayne. His billionaire playboy persona was the perfect cover, while his real identity as the orphaned Wayne was tortured yet strong. What's more, his rediscovery of hope resulted in an inspiring evolution in Justice League that saw him assume a position of leadership.
Together, this was the perfect mix of the two facets of the character we have seen in the comics: one where he is by himself in his own title, and the other where he is a valued member of the world's greatest super-team.
Throughout the change in the DCEU's tone, Affleck's Bruce Wayne was somehow able to fit in both the dark and moody, as well as the hopeful and colorful. His older age and experienced nature made him a perfect and natural leader for the Justice League. Affleck's Wayne has the respect of Aquaman and Cyborg. He's a valuable partner to Wonder Woman and Superman, and he is idolized by The Flash. He is the weakest of them all, yet the strongest and most important.
These are the qualities that make Batman who he is in the comics, and it's what makes the DCEU's take on the character pitch perfect.
It's no wonder Snyder sees him as the perfect Batman. The shared universe of movies may be in the middle of a shift, but that doesn't mean Batman has to be a casualty. We've already seen that Affleck's take on the character is malleable enough to be equal parts dark and inspiring.
Even Kevin Conroy agrees that Affleck is the best live-action Batman, so who are we to say any different? Here's hoping the actor will once again suit up as the Caped Crusader... because his story is far from being over.
Matt Reeves’ solo Batman film still does not have a production start date, nor does it have an official cast or release date. The film is expected to arrive sometime in 2020 at the earliest. Next up on the DCEU docket is David F. Sandberg’s Shazam!, slated for release April 5, 2019, Cathy Yan's Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), arrives Feb. 7, 2020 and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984, which drops June 5, 2020.