Saturday, July 18, 2015

Why Ben Affleck's Batman will be different than other cinematic Caped Crusaders

First of all, credit must go where it belongs.

Moviepilot writer Dean Lentini has put together a compelling and well-written piece in which he asserts there are "5 Reasons Batman Has Never Been Better."

It completely inspired me to write this op-ed -- one which I originally envisioned being about what to expect to see from Ben Affleck's Batman (not unlike what CCC contributor David Hudson did a few months ago at my request). Lentini's op-ed has given me focus -- especially since I just analyzed the "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" trailer revealed at the San Diego Comic-Con International. 

(Go here for the Comic-Con trailer in HD. Besides, watching it again will refresh you on what I have to say after the break. Go ahead; I'll be here when you get back ...!)

Saying this Batman is the best is a bold statement. Even for an opinionated diehard Batman fan like me.

Before I establish my Five Reasons Why Ben Affleck's Batman is Different than the "Dark Knight" Trilogy and the Tim Burton-Joel Schumacher franchise, let me establish a few things.

Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne is a troubled and determined man
in this screenshot from the "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" trailer.
(Courtesy comingsoon.net)
As David and I have told each other, fans want the next big superhero film -- and probably each project -- to be great; we want to enjoy it -- even if we rarely admit to it or come out and say it.

Most of the time our passion and love for our most beloved comic book characters comes out as criticism before the next movie is released. Often it's too harsh. That's because we care; our passion comes across too strong, but keep in mind that in our heart of hearts, we fans just love the genre so much we get carried away.


Nobody loves Batman more than I do. (OK. Very few ...)

I've loved the Caped Crusader for years. Since I was young enough to know what a superhero was, Batman has always been my No. 1 -- with other great superheroes like Captain America, Daredevil, or even Wolverine coming in at a distant second, third and so on. That hasn't changed.

So nobody wants to see "Batfleck" be a great and memorable take on the character more than me -- especially since this Dark Knight will be onscreen no less than five times in the next several years.

But I'm not quite ready to say Affleck's Batman is the best already. Counting the teaser trailer for "Dawn of Justice," we've only seen about 5 1/2 minutes of Affleck onscreen -- and most of that has been with him playing billionaire Bruce Wayne.

On the other hand, I will say this footage -- when looked at altogether -- indicates this may be an incarnation of Wayne and the Dark Knight that we haven't seen before.

Without further ado, here are my Five Reasons Why Ben Affleck's Batman is Different than the "Dark Knight" Trilogy and the Tim Burton-Joel Schumacher franchise:

1) Compassionate Caped Crusader
One of the first actions Wayne takes in the full trailer is comforting a young girl. This is a man who isn't afraid to show love, warmth and compassion for others in need. This is much different than Michael Keaton's cold and emotionally unavailable Batman and even Christian Bale's Wayne and Dark Knight who cares passionately about the fate of Gotham City. Affleck's Wayne cares deeply for individuals; otherwise he wouldn't automatically hug a girl who is distraught over witnessing death and destruction.

2) Protector of the Innocent
When Wayne sees General Zod's heat vision cut a Wayne Enterprises building in half, what's his gut instinct? He jumps into action. Wayne doesn't give a second thought to running into the chaos.

Lentini nails it in his Moviepilot article:"When everyone else is running away. Bruce Wayne/Batman is the only one running to help. That's Batman. He will protect the innocent and preserve life no matter what. When all others shrink back, Batman leaps into action to save lives."
Screenshot courtesy of comingsoon,net
This Wayne/Batman isn't just compassionate (as I pointed out in the section above), he's concerned about the fate of innocent people. That's "my" Batman!

Due to this philosophy, Wayne is troubled when he gets reminded he couldn't save the life of his junior partner, Robin (whether it's Dick Grayson or Jason Todd reminds to be seen, the point is the same) and why he receives a newspaper clipping that reminds him "you let my family die" -- and then takes steps to do something about it. (See reason no. 4 for more on that!)

3) Haunted by his past
Every incarnation of Wayne is haunted by the double-murder of his parents -- the tragic event that made him promise to work and fight crime so other people wouldn't be a victim like he was. The full "Dawn of Justice" trailer includes footage of a young Bruce Wayne who sees his parents gunned down. As an adult, he's also reminded of another tragedy -- that Robin was killed -- a loss for which he likely blames himself. How these tragedies impacts Affleck's weary and tired Wayne and Batman should make for interesting viewing, not to mention character development.

Keaton and Bale's Wayne withdrew from the public eye and were loners -- the first a brooder, the latter a bitter self-imposed hermit. This incarnation of Wayne, while possibly living in the Batcave for years above the demolished Wayne Manor, seems to be a ...

4) Proactive man of action
Why is Batman using the Batsignal to beckon Superman -- for help or incite a fight?
Like it or not, this Batman takes matters into his own hands. Wayne doesn't take the death of many -- or any of his employees -- lightly; he probably will take it personally. Seeing Superman as someone dangerous, Batman jumps into action, inciting a confrontation with the Man of Steel.

This Dark Knight has balls -- big enough cajones to take on a super-powered being who could kill him or maim him just on speed and strength alone. The other Batmen were largely reactive (Bale's a bit less so), but Batfleck jumps into the middle of it at the first sign of trouble, the consequences be damned.

Finally, all this speculation ties into my assetion we'll see a ...

5) Brave and bold Batman
He's brave enough to take on Superman by himself -- which is as crazy and stupid as it is brave and bold. Batman has always been assertive; this one is well, bold enough, to do what he feels necessary even if it's not a popular decision. This Wayne/Batman seems to think everybody is too timid to confront Superman; his attitude is "Fine. Then I'll do it. Someone has to."
Screenshot courtesy of comingsoon.net


Wayne's decision isn't completely rationale. Jeremy Irons' Alfred Pennyworth seems to try to persuade him to believe that Superman isn't "our enemy." But as has always been the case in the comics, film and animated series and movies, even when Alfred is the voice of reason, Wayne/Batman won't hear it and has to see for himself.

Now, let the showdown and drama begin!

2 comments:

  1. Great article and insight.Couldn't agree more...PB.

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    1. Thanks so much for giving this read — AND for commenting. BTW I'm always willing to talk shop here in the comments section.

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