Why Ben Affleck is not the Batman we deserve.
Batman has been a time-honoured superhero, a part of the core trilogy that helms Justice League Alliance (JLA), and the only fully human hero that stands respected amongst aliens and Gods. Sadly, Zack Snyder’s Batman undermines the very characterization that makes Batman who he is. Besides the controversial casting of Affleck, the script and direction constructs an alternate Batman that is unlike any we have seen in the comics and animations.
In the film, Batman is supposedly a 20-year veteran vigilante that gets tricked by Lex Luthor. Fans of the Dark Knight can attest to his resourcefulness and most of all his paranoia. Superman is to Batman as Macbeth is to a cunning witch. In no realistic universe do we witness (or rarely) the simplicity of beguiling the Bat. In the movie, it only took Luthor a bribe to manipulate Batman’s feelings (We will talk about his feelings later!). Bruce Wayne receives multiple bounce-cheques from an ex-worker who becomes paralysed in the war between Superman and General Zodd.
There are multiple glaring inconsistences with the plot and Batman’s intelligence seems to be lacking:
- For some reason, Bruce Wayne does not question how his worker (who is a minor character) hints and knowing that he is Batman through the returned cheques.
- Batman leaves the most potent weapon against Kryptonians, which he spent hours making, lying on the ground in some old ruins. He only realizes that he inconveniently left the most important weapon like trash later when he needs it.
- Bruce does not find anything amiss when he sees his ex-worker (rich enough to reject Wayne’s money) on the television as a man who:
1. Is capable of paying his hefty medical fees which would definitely come with his health.
2. Rich enough to bring Superman to court.
3. Owns a state-of-the-art revolving wheelchair.
Batman is characterized as an angry, manipulated cesspit of rage under the pressure of the God-like presence of Superman. The narrative seems to shape Batman as an anti-hero that buckles under the an existential crisis of being helpless. He is defined through his sullen looks and money. And if you think that these are the only two reasons that make Batman one of the top selling heroes in the comic industry, you thought wrong. It is easy to slap on the ‘rich boy lost his parents’ tragedy and sell him as an unstable broken gadget man. But what really places Batman in the JLA is his mental fortitude.
Batman is a man who thinks of a million scenarios and is beyond prepared. What we are given in the movie is a careless, weather-worn and emotionally susceptible hero, who at the slightly nudge barges into an all-out war without question. What happened to the taciturn and thorough Batman who calculates his every move and preempts any situation? Batman is not just a rich gadget man who plays hero, he is humanity’s representation on the League; he is the best we can be with money, power and wit. His seat on the JLA is well deserved in the eyes of immortals and the like.
We are instead dished with a plethora of Batman’s gadget’s, two Fast and Furious scenes and his vulnerability. Ironically, Jason Todd’s enshrined outfit was meant to prove as sufficient warning for Batman’s failure – The death of his disciple. And yet, he plunders down yet another path of passion, throwing away his rationality and the true meaning of what it means to be the Bat. The film’s direction has more responsibility over Batman’s representation; and Affleck’s newest role seems to prove his unlucky streak for a superhero movie career. *Cough, Daredevil 2003, cough*
Moving beyond the destruction of his rationality, we are treated with a vengeful persona. Batman goes around BRANDING (Get this!) criminals with his sigil. This is wrong on so many levels. The act of branding symbolizes mastery and alludes criminals to livestock. You’ll have to imagine Bruce Wayne deciding his own symbol as a branding device back in the Bat Cave with a bottle of wine: “So tell me Alfred, does this bat outline look cool enough to be burnt into the skin of criminals?” says Bruce as he sips his Chateau Lafite.
"I would have thought you meant to ask if it looked hot enough for branding, Master Wayne," retorts the elder.
Criminals here are no more than cattle under his narcissistic brand and the lack of respect for their lives becomes apparent when he actively wields guns and sadistically drags a villian’s car around until they smash into their accomplice. In case you didn't already know, Batman is famous for abstaining from guns. What set heroes a part is their ability to pull punches; they do not take lives. (Catch Daredevil Season 2 if you haven’t, it delves into the classic trope of balancing one’s moral compass in the occupation of heroism.)
Despite the stellar cast with Cavill as a convincing Superman and Gadot as an amazing Wonder Woman, many find fault with the squeamish Luthor. His young upbeat scheming personality is at odds with a rather mature cast and the serious tone of the movie. His fidgety persona only jabs at the audiences in the wrong way and his character lacks a proper motive other than to be slightly unhinged. I'm not going compare Luthor in the comics because Eisenberg’s portrayal alone is enough to get audiences irked.
Snyder’s cinematography is top notch, but the film needs more work on its characterization of Batman and Luthor. While it may prove to be a worthwhile action flick, Eisenberg is bound to rile audiences and Affleck is but a distorted caricature of Batman. For fans who are looking for the Dark Knight, look elsewhere, because you won’t find him here.