We still don’t have an actual title for the movie yet, but the anticipated sequel to the highly controversial “Man of Steel” now has its Batman.
Personally I’m not all that thrilled with the idea, but you could do a whole lot worse, and my skepticism has more to do with my opposition to the actual idea of a “Man of Steel” sequel involving Batman in the first place. Batman is my favorite superhero but he’d be thoroughly out of place for a movie whose principal objective needs to be to actually improve upon the characterization of Superman and the capacity for world building through his eyes. But they need the fistfight of this movie to top the last one and the only guy capable of outperforming Zod on that one is Batman. Plus he’s the only superhero vessel that Warner Brothers has had critical success with so there he is.
As for Affleck, well he’s a good actor, though his superhero record (Daredevil & Superman) wasn’t so great, and an even better director. But there’s a chance that some good can come out of this. Consider this. “Man of Steel” was a film whose overly dark tones and half-assed characterization of Superman started a nationwide conversation about how badly it betrayed the character and the very concept of Superman, delving into themes that are more suited for Batman’s universe and thinking that they’d work fine for the Man of Tomorrow as well. A calculative error to be sure, but we got what we got and if there’s one thing that’s good about “Man of Steel” it’s that it didn’t seem fully committed to any kind of new version of Superman enough to squander potential for an interesting sequel.
Now Batman on the other hand is a character that we’ve known for a very long time. We’ve had seven live action movies over the past 24 years. Sure, not all of them have been good, but we all know the character. This is supposed to be Superman’s show, but Batman is the catch, so that means that (and Zack Snyder remaining at the helm ensures that the film will at least be cohesive enough for) Batman’s characterization will have a direct impact on Superman, perhaps in the way he reflects upon himself and his role, and in the way he sees the world and humankind.
Now Affleck doesn’t exactly look like an heir to a financial empire or like he’d be anyone’s first choice to play an enigmatic playboy and physical specimen whose antics conceal a deeply traumatized and haunted soul with a desire for justice over evil. But he does look like he can convey a sense of humor. Henry Cavill’s Superman is a guy who we think we can trust provided somebody removes that big stick up his butt. What if Batman can do that? And think about how ironic that would be?
I don’t expect that this is how it’s going to happen. With Christopher Nolan still pulling the strings and with David Goyer and Frank Miller being used as story writers/consultants I imagine that what will really happen is that Batman will make Superman even more cynical than he already was, from one orphan to another. And that’s why ultimately I’m not particularly excited about this.
But there’s always a chance that I’m wrong here. All I want to say right now is that I hope no one gets too crazy (for good or ill) about this just yet and puts the cart before the horse. Let’s see how the movie actually turns out before we judge it. Okay?