WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Warner Bros.’ Justice League, in theaters now.
Ben Affleck’s casting as the DC Extended Universe’s Batman brought with it a lot of criticism, much of it based on how much he polarized fans with his portrayal of Matt Murdock, the title character in Jon Favreau’s Daredevil. Director Zack Snyder didn’t let that faze him, however, as he roped Affleck in to stand against Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel in 2015’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in what was a bitter and very aggressive spin on the Dark Knight. Affleck’s Batman was seasoned and weathered, a la Frank Miller’s typical approach to the character, and had Superman dead-set in his crosshairs as a liability that needed to be taken out for the safety of all mankind.
However, despite their differences and eventual showdown, Superman’s death at the hands of Doomsday reignited Bruce Wayne’s sense of hope, a rekindled brightness complemented by the inspiration of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. By the end of that movie, he wanted to restart the age of heroes by forming a coalition to fight an impending invasion, one which he foresaw in the “Knightmare” sequence in BvS and which a crazed Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) confirmed while incarcerated. This assembly of heroes is what drives Snyder’s Justice League, with Steppenwolf’s assault on Earth confirming that what Bruce feared all this time was actually coming to pass.
Many fans remained cynical as to how Snyder would follow up his depiction of the Caped Crusader, and whether Affleck would phone in his performance given that he seemed disillusioned with the DCEU after BvS came in for criticism. However, despite Snyder’s divisive interpretation of Bruce and the constant dark cloud looming over Affleck’s future in the role, everyone involved powered through, with Justice League coming full-circle to illustrate just why Batman belongs on the team, and more so, why he can now be seen as a beacon of light in a more hopeful cinematic universe.
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