If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it was that Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight in Batman v Superman was a ruthless vigilante who didn’t think twice about killing one of his adversaries. Drawing inspiration from Frank Miller’s seminal graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, Affleck’s Batman was an older, more world-weary version of the character hellbent on bloody vengeance, fuelled by his detestation of Superman. However, Affleck has said that fans can expect a slightly lighter Batman in Justice League, hinting that the character arc we saw in Dawn of Justice is coming to a close.
Batman v Superman and Justice League director Zack Snyder said via Collider: “I talked to Ben about it— of like, how can we not be stuck with this single-note Batman for whatever, if it’s three movies, because he’s making his Batman movie, like what do we do? And we talked long and hard about like, ‘Okay, in Batman v Superman he’s here. He’s at the end of his career, and he’s down here, and he’s seen this thing that now he wonders what his relevance is, and maybe he can do this one thing.’ And then the example of Superman makes him go, ‘No, you know what? I’m not done. I’ve got more to do. I’ve got to persevere and make it right.’ And that’s the Batman you get now at the beginning of Justice League, is that he’s on a mission, and he’s really clearheaded about the mission and about the others that he’ll need to complete it.”
Affleck commented on the idea that Batman will be the Justice League’s unofficial head of recruitment, suggesting it conflicts with the lonely nature of the character.
“That’s sort of the interesting thing about this Batman is that on the one hand, he’s sort of the ultimate loner, but on the other hand, he’s sort of tasked with putting together a group. So is the guy who basically broods in a cave all day really the best person to put together a team of superheroes? And he doesn’t have huge success initially. He rubs some people the wrong way or they rub him the wrong way, he’s got to figure out how to play well with others. He barely knows how to play well with Alfred.”
“There’s a little bit more sardonic humor, a little more irony. He’s on a little more man on a mission this time. As opposed to like he was so full of anger because of what happened at the Black Zero Event. That kind of character, that sort of rage that possessed him. And now he’s on a mission to get this group together. To constitute this League. But, more of his, that sort of Bruce Wayne, wry, ironic gallows humor comes out. He’s not like a ‘haha’ jokey, but that sort of stuff comes out a little bit. A bit of, his sort of darker humor stuff is present.”
Excitingly, Affleck hinted that we will be introduced to Batman the detective in Justice League: “It’s definitely, the world’s greatest detective aspect of Batman is more present in this story than it was in the last one, and will probably be expanded upon further in a Batman movie that I would do. I think all the great Batman stories are, at their heart, detective stories.
“That’s why they feel like noir movies in a way. Somehow feels like it could be The Maltese Falcon. But at their heart good Batman stories are, like I said, detective stories. And with detective stories, there’s a ‘what’s happening’ element, but there’s also a, ‘how do I find these people and bring them together? How are we going to work together successfully?’ Sort of a multilateralist element.”
Finally, Affleck confirmed that the darker side of his character we saw in Batman v Superman will be slightly less extreme. Instead, Justice League is a story of redemption for him and learning the lessons from his time fighting against —and ultimately alongside— the Man of Steel.
“Yeah, in the last movie, Batman definitely went to a very dark place that was rooted in trauma that occurred to people that he loved and worked with and what he saw. This movie is not about that issue for him so much anymore, he’s no longer sort of extreme in that way. From the experiences of the last movie, he’s sort of learned and now he’s sort of – I’m trying to say it without giving away any spoilers – but he’s wanting to redeem himself and wanting mankind to be redeemed and he’s wanting to make the world better. Having learned lessons that were important in the last movie.“