WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Triple Frontier, now available to stream on Netflix.
For months after the release of Justice League, Ben Affleck was rumored to be exiting the role of Batman. These whispers came at a time when the DC Extended Universe, apart from Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, looked like it was due for a drastic reshaping. However, with the success of Aquaman and the optimism behind the warm, family-friendly Shazam!, it seems that Warner Bros. has its DC filmverse back on track, opting to focus on individual films as opposed to forced team-ups like what Zack Snyder envisioned in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
However, there has been collateral damage. Henry Cavill is rumored to be out as Superman, and, as many assumed would happen, Affleck did leave his Dark Knight role. But when it comes to Affleck moving on from the cowl, one new film in particular stands out as a testament to why he was perfect as Batman -- Netflix's Triple Frontier.
Director J. C. Chandor's movie feels like a mash-up of Three Kings, The Expendables, the Sicario movies and the Narcos franchise, as it deals with Affleck's Tom "Redfly" Davis leading an assault on a drug lord who's holed up in a mansion in the Colombian jungles. What it does is frame Affleck as a true leader and a military strategist, which at times feels like he's the Dark Knight cutting loose in a guerrilla warfare mission you'd usually associate with Frank "The Punisher" Castle.
And make no mistake, as much as Redfly is stripped down to basics, using machine guns, knives and grenades as opposed to Batarangs and all those fancy gadgets Bruce Wayne cooks up in the Batcave, you can see Affleck channeling the astute tactician that Bruce represents as he goes to war here.
Redfly is first contacted by Oscar Isaac's Santiago "Pope" Garcia to arrange a recon mission with the muscle of the team: William "Ironhead" Miller (Charlie Hunnam) and Ben Miller (Garrett Hedlund). They're backed by a pilot in Pedro Pascal's Francisco "Catfish" Morales, reuniting to carry out a mission like they all did together as a Delta Force unit back in their heyday for the U.S. Army. It's very much Affleck leading the Justice League here on this mission.
Redfly is a tortured war veteran whose family has basically abandoned him in terms of emotional connection. He wallows in self pity because they're there, but not really. He comes off like the disillusioned and reclusive Batman we saw in Snyder's Batman v Superman. Notably, there are also hints of an older Bruce from the Batman Beyond franchise, wanting to be left alone to rot away as he sells houses for a living.
But when he's pulled back in, the way he marshals the troops, frames the mission and sets up no-kill policies, as the jungles are filled with women and children forced into poverty and crime, it's vintage Batman. Seeing as it's a dark ops mission, you can even draw parallels to how Bruce led teams like the Outsiders and Batman Inc.
Either way, the respect Redfly commands, his ability in battle to disarm dozens of enemies on his own and how he tries to keep his boys on the good side (which sadly ends with them comprising their morals) all paint a picture of an unmasked Dark Knight going after Bane on the island of Santa Prisca. He's struggling mentally to cage his inner beast, and eventually when it comes out, Affleck reminds us how brutal his Batman was in the warehouse scene from Justice League, where he beat the KGBeast's minions to a pulp.
By the time Justice League ended, Affleck's Batman had adopted a more stoic aura, and fans felt he could deliver a less bitter superhero moving forward. Director Matt Reeves, however, wants a younger Batman and a detective/crime procedural in another era, so that scuppered Affleck's future, as he had doubts about what he wanted to do with the vigilante. While we're excited for that, we still can't help but wonder how the future would have been with Batfleck, because as Triple Frontier shows, he's still ready for all battles Hollywood throws at him.