It comes as no surprise that when avid comic-book fans hear the words Batman v Superman uttered, they’re bound to do one of two things: shrivel up in the fetal position and attempt to rock away the bad memories left by the film…
Or simply implode where they stand, their discord for the Zack Snyder-directed feature still a fresh wound; one that stings on an annual basis, like Frodo Baggins’ nice little scar from that Morgul blade in The Lord of the Rings.
Ben Affleck, who plays the Caped Crusader in next month’s Justice League, recently sat down with Empire Magazine and was pretty transparent to BvS‘s negative feedback:
I can understand people saying it was too dark, or this was outside the tone of what I’m used to seeing with a Batman story, and I think that’s a fair criticism.
He went on to add that the Batman we saw in BvS was a conscious choice made by the creative team, opening the door for a “natural progression” of the character in the films to come.
When the superhero film opened in theaters in March of 2016, it was met with repulsed reviews from fans and critics alike. Much of the common-placed discord revolved around the all-around dullness of the movie, both in terms of story and aesthetics. The two and a half hour Justice League set-up was no doubt a visual spectacle, bearing the trademark bedazzlement that we’ve come to expect of director Zack Snyder. But the desaturated landscapes and overall tone left many fans disappointed, myself included.
My biggest complaint? They fucked with the mythos of The Dark Knight too much. They had an aged and weary Bruce Wayne reach a point where he neglected human casualties, even if those casualties were of criminal origin. It doesn’t matter. I know this all sounds redundant — there’s been no shortage of disgruntled complaints regarding various aspects of the film since its release last year — but Batman has a code.
The comic that the film is largely based upon is Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, which sees Bruce as a retired vigilante, his grappling hook days long gone.
That is until a new Robin in the form of Carrie Kelly comes along.
She reignites The Bat within Bruce, drawing him out of the cave and restoring his mission to bring justice to those who would prey on the fearful. Once again, the criminal underworld looks over their shoulders at night, anticipating any moment to be swooped up into the dark by Gotham’s watchful protector.
That iteration of the character gave off an aura of cynicism and all around ill-tempered attitude, but he never went as far as to break his code and allow death to be an end to a means. Sure, he roughed up some goons a little more extremely than young Bruce would have (at one point even shooting a thug, but executed with the intent to be non-fatal), but he never lost sight of the mission.
There is a point in the comic when he strongly considers breaking his code, thinking of how simple it would be to end The Mutant Leader right where he stands. But he says this:
“And there’s only one thing to do about him that makes any sense to me — just press the trigger and blast him from the face of the Earth. Though that means crossing a line I drew for myself, thirty years ago — I just can’t think of a single reason to let him live.”
That “line” exists to separate him from the ones who inspire chaos and injustice. Batman treads close to it, he always has — but he knows when to take a step back, careful to not be consumed by the corruption that he set out to vanquish as a young man. He knows that as soon as he does, it’s game over.
For Gotham, and for the promise he made to his murdered parents all those years ago.
Justice League hits theaters on November 17.