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The Untold Truth Of Ben Affleck's Batman

There's a line from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" that says "you don't know what you got 'til it's gone." That's also an accurate assessment of Ben Affleck's time as Batman. Though his initial casting was met with fan backlash (let's feign shock and horror here), he established himself as a credible and distinct Dark Knight. Some fans have even proclaimed him the best Batman there's ever been. The Oscar-winning filmmaker has made it clear that he no longer wants to make big franchise movies, including superhero flicks, so "The Flash" may well end up being his Batman swansong (per The Playlist).

The story of Batfleck is a tale that will be passed down for generations, for better or worse. It features so many twists, turns, reshoots, dramatic moments, and inexplicable circumstances that it could easily have been masterminded by the Riddler himself. From Affleck's apprehension of committing to the role from the beginning to his best friend encouraging him to quit the part, let's take off the cape and cowl and uncover the truth of Ben Affleck's Batman.

Ben Affleck didn't enjoy his Justice League experience

At this point, the bizarre tale of the "Justice League" movie is well-worn territory. What was meant to be DC's answer to Marvel's "Avengers" turned into one of the most storied and troubled productions in film history. From Zack Snyder's departure due to a family tragedy to Joss Whedon's volatile and controversial reshoots, not many people involved in the production have particularly fond memories of it. For Ben Affleck, it was all that and a bag of rotten chips — the film that destroyed his passion for Batman.

"It was really 'Justice League' that was the nadir for me," Affleck told the Los Angeles Times. "That was a bad experience because of a confluence of things: my own life, my divorce, being away too much, the competing agendas and then Zack's personal tragedy and the reshooting. It just was the worst experience. It was awful. It was everything that I didn't like about this." Affleck stressed that his discomfort wasn't because "Justice League" was a terrible movie per se, but all the circumstances surrounding the film clearly made him reconsider his future as the Bat.

Ben Affleck loved Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The fact that people have continued debating "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" years after its release proves both its sheer divisiveness and its distinct place in pop culture history. The film holds a dismal critical average and a middling audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, with some deeming it one of the worst superhero films ever and others calling it one of the best. Regardless, it's a movie that many people have strong opinions on, including the actors who appeared in it.

During a press junket for "The Accountant," Affleck spoke to Fox 5 Washington DC's Kevin McCarthy about his experience with "Batman v Superman" and the film itself. He explained how it proved to be a huge box office hit — one of the biggest of his career — but suffered from a lot of critical backlash. Affleck added that he found a lot of the critique to center on the movie's tone, which he argued shouldn't be the measure of its overall quality. When asked about his personal opinion of the film, he responded without hesitation: "I loved it." No trace of Sad Affleck here.

Matt Damon helped convince Ben Affleck to give up the cape and cowl

Every Batman needs a Robin. Sadly for Ben Affleck's Dark Knight, his Robin appeared to have been killed by the Joker prior to his on-screen debut, and only his costume hung in the Batcave's glass display case. The good news is, in the real world of Hollywood, Affleck has his own stalwart partner in the form of Matt Damon. The two have been close friends since Affleck was eight and Damon was 10. As you might expect, they've been there for each other during their respective rises, falls, and revivals.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, which Damon conducted on behalf of the publication, Affleck revealed that Damon played a crucial role in persuading him to hang up the Batsuit. "I talked to you about it and you were a principal influence on that decision," Affleck said. "I want to do the things that would bring me joy. Then we went and did 'Last Duel' and I had fun every day on this movie." As an interesting side note, Damon was once considered for the part of Two-Face in "The Dark Knight" a few years before Affleck joined the DC universe (per MTV News).

Ben Affleck's favorite Batman scenes are from The Flash movie

When Ben Affleck walked away from "The Batman," it was clear that his future as the Dark Knight was all but thrown into the trunk of the Batmobile and driven to Blüdhaven for a quiet retirement. However, before he hung up the cape and cowl, he revealed to USA Today that he knew he couldn't play the character forever and wanted a way to gracefully step aside. Andy Muschietti's "The Flash" would up being that exit strategy — an adaptation of the popular "Flashpoint" storyline that enables universes to merge and diverge. This means that Batfleck's disappearance from the main DC Extended Universe can be written into a plausible storyline.

During an interview with The Herald Sun (via CinemaBlend), Affleck heaped praise on the depiction of his Batman in the "Flash" movie. "Maybe my favorite scenes in terms of Batman and the interpretation of Batman that I have done, were in the 'Flash' movie," he said. "I hope they maintain the integrity of what we did because I thought it was great and really interesting." Affleck added that the experience was highly enjoyable and that he felt like he'd finally discovered who Batman should really be in "The Flash."

Ben Affleck's The Batman script had some James Bond influence

The production of "Zack Snyder's Justice League" provided a nearly endless supply of publicized drama, but "The Batman" was no slouch in that regard itself. For a period of years, it was a will-he-won't-he saga as no one knew whether Ben Affleck would write, direct, or star in the film. At one stage, he was set to do all three before he ended up doing none. That said, the filmmaker worked on a script with Geoff Johns prior to departing the project altogether. During the fan event Justice Con, Joe Manganiello peeled back the curtain on the proposed story, explaining how his character Deathstroke would have been a central villain and gone after the Dark Knight and his cohorts, including a version of Batgirl (via Total Film).

Before Matt Reeves boarded "The Batman," Warner Bros. approached the director and handed him Affleck and Johns' script, since the plan was still for Affleck to star in the film at the time. Speaking to Esquire Middle East, Reeves explained that he read the script, but it wasn't the direction he had in mind for the movie. "This take, I told them, pointing at the script, is a totally valid and exciting take," he said. "It is almost James Bond-ian, but it wasn't something that I quite related to." Given the noir style that Reeves ended up employing, it's interesting to know just how different "The Batman" could have been.

Ben Affleck wore the Batman suit to his son's birthday party

It's easy to understand the appeal to a parent of playing a superhero on the big screen. After all, the whole genre plays heavily to younger fans. As it turns out, Ben Affleck's reason for wanting to play Batman fell within that exact same reasoning. Simply put, he wanted his son to get to watch him as the Caped Crusader.

Appearing on The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast, Affleck revealed his motivations for taking the role. "I wanted to do something that my son would dig," he said. "I mean, my kids didn't see 'Argo.'" While Affleck admitted that his Batman adventures didn't go as originally planned due to circumstances out of his control, he added that there was one moment that made everything worth it. "I wore the suit to my son's birthday party, which was worth every moment of suffering on 'Justice League.'" 

Henry Cavill was intimidated by Ben Affleck

Henry Cavill took his role as Superman extremely seriously. Not only did he dive into the character's backstory and discover the special nuances about Kal-El, but he also got ripped to star as the aptly titled Man of Steel. As one of the most in-shape superhero actors around, Cavill should have had no fear of taking off his shirt around his co-stars. In fact, the British actor thought he had a great physique going into "Batman v Superman," as he explained to Healthy For Men magazine (via ComicBookMovie.com).

"Then I met Ben Affleck," Cavill said. "What struck me first was how funny he was, but man was he ripped as well. I've never been the type of guy to get involved in any sort of macho one-upmanship, but I admit I was more than a bit intimidated, and it gave me the desire to push it a bit more, because Ben is really built. The guy is huge. I'm puny by comparison." Imagine what would have happened if Affleck and Cavill stepped on the "Black Adam" set and saw Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who didn't need any padding in his superhero outfit.

Jon Hamm expressed interest in replacing Ben Affleck as Batman

As soon as a superhero role is up for grabs, the internet sleuths start trying to piece together who will be the next actor up for consideration. It's fun to fan-cast and imagine different actors in the parts, but most of the rumors end up being false. Naturally, when the news that Ben Affleck might be done with "The Batman" broke, there were more than a few names linked as suitable replacements. One of the more interesting choices was "Mad Man" star Jon Hamm. Some reports at the time claimed that Hamm was actively campaigning for the role and had even chatted to Matt Reeves about it.

During an interview on In Depth With Graham Bensinger, Hamm opened up about the topic and said that he had never spoken to anyone about becoming Batman, but that he would welcome the conversation if it happened. "Sure," he said. "I would probably fit the suit. I'd have to work out a lot, [which] I don't love ... I'm sure there's an interesting version of that being out there, and if they wanted to tap me on the shoulder and ask me to do it, why not?" Bat-Hamm does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Zack Snyder's backup Batman if Ben Affleck turned down the role

Josh Brolin has already discussed how he almost played Batman and met with Zack Snyder about the part. However, Brolin wasn't Snyder's only possible alternative to Ben Affleck. The director revealed to the Happy Sad Confused podcast that Affleck had some reservations about playing the role of the Dark Knight in "Batman v Superman," which he felt were justified (via NME). Nonetheless, Snyder had to prepare in case Affleck said no.

Snyder's backup choice? Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, who appeared in "Rust and Bone," "The Danish Girl," and "The Old Guard." "I was talking to [Matthias] a lot about it," Snyder revealed on the podcast. "He never got in the suit, but I did do a bunch of mock-ups of him, because Ben was on the fence." It would have been interesting to see the reaction to Schoenaerts' casting since he isn't a household name like Affleck. However, judging by how most Batman actors are received initially by the fandom, the internet likely would have hated the mere thought of it.

Ben Affleck's love of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns

In the lead-up to "Batman v Superman," the marketing made it clear that Affleck's version of Batman would be older and wearier than previous on-screen iterations of the character. From the shots of his Bruce Wayne in the trailers to the footage of his mechanized Batsuit pitted against Henry Cavill's Clark Kent, it was obvious that the film was taking major props from Frank Miller and Klaus Janson's "The Dark Knight Returns."

The 1986 comic arc is consistently cited as one of the best "Batman" stories of all time, even being ranked by Time as one of Top 10 Graphic Novels ever. Apparently, Ben Affleck has long been a fan as well. On the Hollywood Babble-On podcast, Kevin Smith revealed that Affleck — a longtime friend — had always been a huge fan of the Batman character and of "The Dark Knight Returns" in particular (via MTV). Smith also claimed that Affleck only agreed to do "Daredevil" because he thought there would never be another Batman film after "Batman & Robin," and because Frank Miller had been responsible for some of the best "Daredevil" stories as well.

Ben Affleck didn't care about the internet's reaction to Batfleck

Want to win an easy bet? Here's the deal: Whenever a new Batman actor is announced, always bet on a vocal part of the fan community raging against the casting, no matter who it is. Since the days of Warner Bros. receiving angry letters to drop Michael Keaton as the hero, nearly every casting announcement has gone the same way. Of course, once the films are actually released, a lot of people tend to change their minds.

The birth of Batfleck was no different and followed the same pattern. Even Comedy Central's Twitter account got in on the outrage, tweeting, "Casting Ben Affleck as Batman sounds like something The Joker would do to create a distraction at the nerd bank." Affleck admitted to the Los Angeles Times that Warner Bros. warned him about what the fan reactions could be like. In the end, though, it didn't faze him. "I'm pretty grown up about this stuff," the actor said. "If I had my feelings getting hurt about stuff that was said on the Internet, I would have been gone a long time ago." Years after the fact, a number of fans caused a similar level of uproar campaigning for Warner Bros. to bring Affleck's Batman back (via ComicBook). Oh, how the tables turn.

Ben Affleck thinks Robert Pattinson was a great choice for Batman

Historically, Bruce Wayne has passed on the cape and cowl to a number of people, including Dick Grayson, Jim Gordon, and Terry McGinnis. In the case of the live-action "Batman" films, stars pass the proverbial Bat-baton on to others as well. That's exactly what happened when Robert Pattinson took the reins from Ben Affleck, though their respective tenures admittedly overlapped a fair bit.

Of course, Battinson likely wouldn't have even been in the picture if Affleck had gone on to star in "The Batman" as originally planned. Affleck has already explained his reasons for not wanting to continue in the role, but he's also discussed his thoughts on Pattinson stepping into his shoes. In an interview with Jake's Takes, Affleck showed great support for his successor. "I think Robert's a great actor," he said. "He's going to do great." It's nice to see such camaraderie between the stars, both of whom have left indelible marks on the character's legacy.