The Story Geeks blogger Ashley Pauls responds with an additional perspective to the same topic discussed in this week’s podcast – who’s the best live-action Batman. Want to share your own take? Join the conversation in The Story Geeks Facebook group!
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If I had to pick the best Batman movies, it would be Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, no contest. These movies aren’t merely great superhero films, they’re just great films, period. They redefined the genre and set such a high standard that superhero flicks are still being compared to them.
Having said all that — and as much as I love Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne — my favorite cinematic Batman is actually…Ben Affleck. I was one of the fans who was skeptical when he was initially cast, but I thought he turned in a great performance, even if the scripts for the films themselves didn’t always live up to their full potential.
Here are the three reasons why I think Batfleck is the best:
1. Affleck’s Batman rises above the films surrounding him.
“Batman v. Superman” has taken a lot of flak from fans, but I actually really enjoyed that film. Was it deeply flawed? Yes — but one of the highlights was definitely Ben Affleck’s performance (and, of course, the appearance of Wonder Woman). I didn’t really enjoy “Justice League” and have only seen that movie once, but I still liked seeing Ben Affleck in the role again.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I feel like Affleck should receive more praise for his performance than he sometimes does. Even though the scripts for these films could have been stronger, it’s a testament to Affleck’s acting abilities that he still manages to be a standout in these movies. It’s a shame we probably won’t get to see his version of the character again.
2. Affleck’s older, more world-weary Batman offers a fascinating perspective.
When we first meet Affleck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne at the beginning of “Batman v. Superman,” we can tell that he’s different from some of the other versions of the character that we’ve seen before. Zack Snyder really leans into the idea of an older, more cynical Batman. In the film, Affleck often looks weary, both physically and emotionally; his Batman has been fighting crime for a long, long time, and it makes sense that he’d be feeling burned out.
We can see the scars (both visible and invisible) that Batman has gained from his war against crime. We understand that this Batman has done some dark, terrible things in his pursuit of justice. Were they worth it?
A solo Affleck Batman film probably could have answered that question in greater depth, but I’m still glad we got what we got.
3. We get to see Batman as a team player.
Although “Justice League” didn’t really work for me as a whole, I did enjoy some of the performances in that film. I liked seeing Ben Affleck’s Batman interacting with Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, etc.
Batman is unique in that group due to the fact he does not have any superpowers. It’s fascinating to see how that plays into group dynamics and how he uses technology to compensate for his lack of powers.
Overall, it’s hard to discuss the legacy of Affleck’s Batman, because Affleck wasn’t necessarily given the best material to work with. Although he’s my favorite Batman, the films he’s in are not my favorite Batman films.
I believe Affleck would be receiving more praise if the films surrounding his performance were stronger, and by this point we’d probably already have a solo Batman film starring Affleck.
Also, I know there’s no chance of it happening, but I’m curious what a Nolan-directed version of Affleck’s Batman would be like. I think they could have worked really well together!