In the ever-evolving tapestry of superhero cinema, few names resonate as deeply as Ben Affleck‘s portrayal of the iconic Dark Knight, Batman. While initial casting news in 2013 was met with negative reception, his portrayal in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Zack Snyder’s Justice League has garnered him immense love and acclaim from fans, as the legacy and perception of his portrayal have drastically changed over the years, similar to Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man.
Affleck was set to don the cape and cowl not only as an actor but also as a director and writer for a solo Batman movie, first announced in 2016, a film that could have redefined the superhero genre and provided a fresh perspective on the legendary character. Although this unmade masterpiece never saw the light of day, its legacy remains shrouded in intrigue as we delve into the captivating story that almost was.
The goal of Affleck’s Batman film was to shed light on the mysterious facets of the character’s psychology. Even after several adaptations, he sought to pull back the curtain and probe the depths of Bruce Wayne’s complexity in a way that had never been done before. As Affleck has expertise directing psychological thrillers, this would not have been your normal superhero adventure; instead, it would have explored the depths of Batman’s inner conflicts and darker impulses.
Through this gloomy character analysis, Affleck hoped to show how the renowned hero’s life of vigilantism and personal sorrow affected him. Affleck’s movie would have gone beyond the limitations of conventional superhero storytelling, even further than The Dark Knight, by giving spectators a deeper grasp of Batman’s motivations and inner suffering.
Central to Affleck’s narrative was the enigmatic villain Deathstroke, portrayed by Joe Manganiello. This deadly antagonist would have tested Batman’s limits, both physically and mentally, pushing him to the brink of his capabilities. Affleck’s choice of a single, formidable antagonist contrasted with the more common ensemble of villains, emphasizing quality over quantity in storytelling.
Deathstroke’s role was not merely that of a physical adversary but a psychological foil for Batman. Their encounters would have been more than mere battles; they would have been clashes of ideologies and tests of resilience. Deathstroke’s presence would have highlighted the thin line that separates heroism from villainy, challenging Batman’s core beliefs and forcing him to confront uncomfortable truths about himself.
The Game, a film about a man whose life spins out of control after getting a weird birthday present, had an impact on Affleck’s Batman concept. Because this concept of unraveling and psychological manipulation resonated with his vision, Affleck was able to develop a tale that would cast doubt on Batman’s senses, sanity, and sense of self. The narrative would have blurred the distinction between reality and fiction by casting doubt on Batman.
Affleck intended to throw doubt on both the reality of the world and the objectivity of their hero’s findings by luring spectators into the maelstrom of Batman’s thought process. By employing this strategy, the movie would have moved beyond the boundaries of the typical superhero plot and transformed into a puzzling examination of the human psyche.
Affleck’s Batman movie would have made Arkham Asylum, the notorious psychiatric institution for supervillains, a crucial part of the plot, as opposed to how it has only been alluded to in other movies. This decision would increase the psychological tension since Batman will face his most powerful enemies behind the foreboding walls of the institution. This would challenge him physically and serve as a battlefield for his inner battles.
Arkham Asylum would have been a miniature version of Batman’s universe, a meeting point for his biggest enemies. In this cramped space, Batman’s dealings with his rogue’s gallery would have shown flaws and highlighted the complex connections between hero and villain. This immersive experience would have transported audiences into the heart of Gotham’s darkness, allowing them to witness the intricate dance between the Bat and his adversaries up close.
Despite the unfortunate fate of Affleck’s Batman movie, his portrayal of Batman continued to echo in the DCEU. He reprised his role in The Flash, citing it as one of his favorite experiences playing the character. The torch was passed to Robert Pattinson, who embarked on his own journey as the Caped Crusader in The Batman in 2022, which received immense critical acclaim.
The unmade film’s legacy lives on as a testament to Affleck’s dedication and creativity. In the end, while Affleck’s Batman movie probably will never grace the silver screen, its influence on the evolution of fan demands is undeniable, and it remains one of the most intriguing superhero movies to never come to fruition.