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A year after Christian Bale hung up his cape and cowl in The Dark Knight Rises, Ben Affleck was selected to be the next cinematic Batman. Affleck’s Bruce Wayne debuted in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and while this version of the Gotham City vigilante would cameo months later in Suicide Squad, his only other major appearance was in Justice League towards the end of 2017. When thinking back on Batman v Superman and Justice League, Affleck prefers his time on the former, noting how the latter was plagued with various problems. As he put it:
I had a better time on Batman v Superman, which I really enjoyed doing, and Justice League was unfortunately touched by some personal tragedy — a death in Zack [Snyder]’s family. Like I say, sometimes things sort of work and gel, and sometimes you just seem to be having one problem after another.
As those who followed along with Justice League as it was being made, director Zack Snyder exited the production in May 2017 following the death of his daughter, Autumn. Joss Whedon, who had already some rewrites for Justice League, was brought in to oversee the rest of postproduction in Snyder’s place, including the hefty reshoots that altered a lot of the movie.
It’s never easy putting a movie together, but as Ben Affleck mentioned during his chat with GQ, there were a lot of issues to deal with in Justice League. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, on the other hand, was a smoother process for the actor, with Affleck being interesting in Zack Snyder’s take on giving audiences an “older” and “kind of broken down” Batman akin to the one seen in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Affleck continued:
I really loved Batman v Superman. Chris [Terrio] wrote on it and I really love Zack. I love putting on the costume and the idea of doing the digital alteration to the voice was really interesting to me. I had a good time.
While Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was met with mostly negative reception among critics, it definitely has a sizable fanbase, and the extended Ultimate Edition released on home media improves the story in certain areas. Justice League got slightly better critical reception overall, but it still had an underwhelming time at the box office, and most of the talk about the movie nowadays isn’t about the theatrical cut, but the efforts to get the Snyder Cut released.
There were also plans early into Ben Affleck’s time as Batman to give his incarnation of the character his own standalone movie, with Affleck also working on The Batman script with Geoff Johns and intending to direct. However, by January 2017, Affleck stepped down from the writing and directing side of things, and two years later, he officially retired as Batman.
As Ben Affleck laid out, at some point he just lost his enthusiasm and passion for keeping the Batman train going, and that he felt it was better that someone work on The Batman for whom it was their “dream come true.” Affleck also noted last month that Justice League played a role in sapping his Batman interest, and that when he showed someone his script for The Batman, they were worried he’d drink himself to death if he reprised the Caped Crusader.
So with his time as Batman done, Ben Affleck is focusing on telling other kinds of stories, but he does have some fond Batman-related memories, particularly from working on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, calling it “energizing.” Now the Batman mantle has been handed to Robert Pattinson, who will star in the Matt Reeves-directed The Batman, which is currently shooting.