Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Unexpected Way Ben Affleck Changed The Batman Forever

Many men have worn the cowl since the very first Batman film hit the big screen. Whether it was Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, or Christian Bale, every Batman actor has brought a different point of view and a different feeling to the role. The tones have spanned from angst-filled drama to sly, suave crime capers, and it seems as if there are hundreds of different ways to pursue playing the Caped Crusader. 

Directly before "Twilight" star Robert Pattinson took on the Dark Knight for this year's "The Batman," there was Ben Affleck, who was Bruce Wayne and his gloomy alter ego in both "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Justice League." Affleck has always been outspoken about the reason why he took the role on — and the reason why he departed "The Batman" before it went into production, which allowed for Pattinson to board the project. 

"I showed somebody 'The Batman' script. They said, 'I think the script is good. I also think you'll drink yourself to death if you go through what you just went through again,'" the actor told The New York Times in 2020. Affleck further elaborated in the NYT profile on his alcohol addiction issues, which ultimately led him to pass on the project.

But when he left the role, he ended up changing the project in a completely unexpected way. How did Affleck's departure from "The Batman" end up changing the face of the film forever?

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Affleck's departure forced The Batman's director to approach the part in a new way

Per a February 2022 New York Times article about "The Batman" director Matt Reeves, the original version of the film was to feature Ben Affleck's version of Bruce Wayne. The film was slated to take a look at Batman through a different lens — that of an older Wayne, more mature, instead of a young trust-fund heir covering up his vigilantism with an unmasked life as a devil-may-care playboy. Affleck was also supposed to write and direct the movie but eventually decided that he would simply act in the film. Per IMDb, Reeves himself eventually co-wrote the version of "The Batman" which he would one day direct, along with co-writer Peter Craig of "Bad Boys For Life."

Reeves then entered the picture after multiple directors were suggested (per The New York Times, they included Ridley Scott and Fede Álvarez), and he said the script he was presented with was "an action set-piece adventure." In the time it took for Reeves to complete the final film in his "Planet of the Apes" reboot trilogy, 2017's "War for the Planet of the Apes," Affleck had left the project.

"I think Ben was just evaluating what he wanted to do and it wasn't what I think he had fallen in love with, in terms of playing that character in the first place," said Reeves to The Times. But his departure definitely affected the future of "The Batman," as that means Reeves now had to forge ahead without his leading man. He chose to do this in a way that would both honor Batman's long past and push him to new and different heights. And Reeves and Craig would have to be the ones to take him there.

Reeves chooses to 'push' Wayne, forcing both himself and the character to change

In the wake of Ben Affleck's leaving the project, Matt Reeves' goal was to present a Batman who would be changed completely by the events of the film. "I wanted the stakes of the story to challenge him in a way that shook him to his core," Reeves told the New York Times. Instead of a movie about a "disillusioned" Wayne forced to face that his vigilante ways weren't getting the job done, the movie would now, in Reeves' words, center around "someone who hadn't quite figured out why they were doing the thing they were doing."

"He's still stuck in those events that happened when he was 10," Reeves said of Wayne. With this in mind, the project zeroed in on a time in Wayne's life that wasn't immediately concurrent with his first taking the mantle of The Bat up, but several years into his life as Batman. Soon enough, he had his new Batman in Robert Pattinson — a choice that Affleck ultimately approved of, calling Pattinson a "good actor" during an interview for the YouTube channel Jake's Takes — and the rest of the production's pieces slowly fell into place. It isn't the film that fans would've seen had Affleck still been Batman, but it definitely seems to be a worthy entry.