WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers from throughout Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Make sure you are prepared before reading on.
While polarizing to some, Ben Affleck might be my favorite live-action Batman, especially for his Frank Miller-style costume and larger-than-life physicality in the DC movies. Yet, it was not until I saw his portrayal of Batman in Zack Snyder’s Justice League that I became more appreciative of this interpretation in terms of character and more curious to see him in other upcoming superhero movies.
Thus, I am thankful he is reportedly reuniting with Ezra Miller in his Flash movie (and with Michael Keaton supposedly returning as his Batman, too). However, if HBO Max’s Snyder Cut did turn out to be Ben Affleck’s swan song in the cape and cowl, it would have been a good way to go out as far as I am concerned. I have six bold, batty, and badass moments from Zack Snyder’s Justice League in mind to explain why, starting with, perhaps, his most defining line of dialogue.
"I’m Real When It’s Useful"
On their first outing as a team, Batman, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) sneak onto Stryker’s Island, located on Gotham Harbor, where Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) is interrogating hostages from S.T.A.R. Labs about the location of the Mother Boxes. On the way inside, Cyborg mentions to Batman that, before meeting him on this night, he doubted if he ever really existed, to which he replies, “I”m real when it’s useful.”
Fans may recall first hearing this quote in the original trailer for Justice League and being disappointed that it never made it into Joss Whedon’s theatrical cut (among other things, of course). As a perfect encapsulation of Bruce Wayne’s purpose as a vigilante and reputation as a figure of urban legend - a rare characteristic in previous live action adaptations - hearing Ben Affleck officially speak it in Zack Snyder’s Justice League really does make Batman feel real.
Batman’s Fist Fight With Parademons
Another reason I admire Batfleck is his dirty, relentlessly brutal, all-out-brawl-style of fighting with which he made mincemeat out of Lex Luthor’s goons in Batman v Superman’s warehouse scene - worth the price of admission alone. Even with that glorious sequence in mind, I was genuinely surprised to see Batman engage in hand-to-hand combat with Parademons in Zack Snyder’s Justice League - worth the price of an HBO Max subscription alone.
Once Justice League finds Steppenwolf under Gotham Harbor interrogating Cyborg’s father, Silas Stone (Joe Morton), they quickly intervene, with Cyborg and Flash helping hostages’ escape while Wonder Woman (a goddess) takes on Steppenwolf with her shield, sword, and, lasso as Batman (technically human) fights off a few Parademons mainly with his fists. Before calling on Alfred (Jeremy Irons) to send the Knightcrawler after taking some damage, he holds his own pretty damn well against the winged, otherworldly beasts, and without much reliance on his utility belt.
"I Don’t Care How Many Demons He’s Fought…"
Facing off against winged, otherworldly beasts would understandably give a human being the confidence to take on pretty much anything. Adding to that the assistance of four extremely powerful metahumans would likely give one the confidence to take on everything, which is a prominent central theme of Zack Snyder’s Justice League in essence.
Batman sums up that sentiment perfectly using his always reliably direct manner of speaking after Ezra Miller’s Flash voices his concerns over the imminent battle against Steppenwolf, assuming he has likely come out victorious against innumerable amounts of “super beings” on the various other planets he has laid waste to. Bruce Wayne, however, is openly indifferent to "how many demons he's fought in how many hells," because "he’s never fought us. Not us united." When is the last time you saw a more encouraging demonstration of team leadership?
Batman Crushes A Whole Parademon Fleet
To answer that question for myself, I would fast forward Zack Snyder’s Justice League to when Batman sends off his teammates to prevent the Mother Boxes’ unity as he single-handedly breachers Steppenwolf’s mystical security system with the Flying Fox in Pozharnov, Russia. After the aerial vehicle crashes, he switches to the Batmobile, from which he engages in an epic rematch with the Parademons.
This time, Steppenwolf has sent an entire fleet of the “goddamned insects” on the Dark Knight, most of whom he destroys by shooting down a water tower and leading them right where it triumphantly crumbles to the ground. The perfectly timed move is one of the most stunning cinematic examples of Batman’s calculated combat methods and impeccable ability to think on his feet.
"I Bought The Bank"
Something we did not get to see enough of in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel as friends, considering they spent most of the movie at each other’s throats before realizing they needed each other to save the day. Admittedly, we do not get to see much of it in Zack Snyder’s Justice League either, save one distinctly optimistic moment from the Epilogue.
When Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) asks Bruce Wayne how he was able convince the bank that repossessed his family farm to give it back to Martha Kent (Diane Lane), you’d initially think Wayne would have just bought the house. Instead, he reveals that he bought the whole bank, making him the best (rich) friend a Kryptonian raised in Kansas could have asked for.
Batman’s Battle Of Wits With The Joker
One thing fans were clamoring for more than a friendly Batman/Superman moment in the DCEU is a tense exchange with his greatest enemy which, in Bruce Wayne’s Knightmare from Zack Snyder’s Justice League, was a dream come true. A grim dystopia caused by Superman and Darkseid’s alliance forces Batman, Cyborg, Flash, and Mera (Amber Heard) to join forces with Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello) and Jared Leto’s Joker, improving on his depiction in 2016’s Suicide Squad by a landslide (in my opinion).
The alliance the Clown Prince of Crime has begrudgingly formed with the Dark Knight is clearly on shaky ground by how he taunts Batman about the deaths of Dick Grayson and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) - the latter of which would cause this catastrophe. Then, Batman snaps back, reminding Joker of when Harley Quinn apparently died in his arms, begging him to kill her abusive beau, and assures him, to make no mistake that he “will fucking kill” him. Never has an admission of Batman breaking his one rule been so unusually satisfying.
Most DC fans are now in agreement that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a satisfying improvement on the “Josstice” League, as Joss Whedon’s theatrical cut has come to be known as. I would even go as far as calling it one of the best Ben Affleck movies streaming right now and the badass Batman moments listed above are essential to that. Which scene do you believe is Batman's most definitive moment in the Snyder Cut?