Now that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is fully in the rearview mirror, I have to be the first one to admit, it was actually pretty good. Despite its ridiculously long running time, it basically corrected everything that was wrong with 2017’s Justice League. The improved characterizations were evident, and no one was improved upon more than Ben Affleck’s Batman who clearly would’ve been a bigger success had Snyder’s vision come to fruition.
The main issue in the original Joss Whedon massacre that was Justice League was the tone of the film. The humorous, Avengers copycat made Justice League into a forced and uneven action comedy and because of the direction, Affleck’s dark take on the iconic character turned into an awkward hero that has an odd dad-joke tendency.
The darkness of Ben Affleck’s Batman
Since the beginning of the SnyderVerse in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Affleck’s Batman was a dark and grizzled veteran that has seen and done it all, with his body taking a toll because of it. Him creating the Justice League seemed more out of pure necessity because quite honestly, he needs the help.
Life has been catching up to older hero of Gotham. The weight of the world has been on his shoulders since the death of Superman (because it was sort of his fault), and he realizes he can’t take these otherworldly evil characters alone. Ben Affleck, as he has gone through his own personal struggles, was arguably the best person to take on this version of the character.
He did an admirable job. Unfortunately, we were a bit too pessimistic about Affleck being signed to star as the iconic superhero in the first place, as the initial reaction to him getting the job was polarizing to say the least. I realized however, that after fully seeing what Zack Snyder had in mind for the future of this franchise, he was making this Batman into one we have never seen before.
Of course, I will avoid spoilers for those that haven’t seen the wildly engrossing director’s cut that was released on HBO Max, but the “Epilogue” part of the film was some of the most riveting parts of the entire film (with the exception of the climax). Snyder added this part to give us loyal fans a glimpse into where he was going to take the franchise had he still been a part of it.
This is where we see “Batfleck” in all its glory; where we see the aftermath of the Superman/Darkseid story arc, with a small but enthralling meet-up with Jared Leto’s Joker, and it just gave me one thought: I want more! As good as it was, I almost wish they didn’t add this “Epilogue” because now I’ll forever think what could’ve been had Snyder continued with his vision.
Affleck’s gritty and R-rated portrayal finally hit its sweet spot and right there, in those final frames, I saw the potential of his Batman. His back is against the wall, he’s leading a team of misfits, and they are outnumbered and out-gunned. The best part about it, however, is Affleck’s no-holds-barred attitude.
This isn’t the hero of Gotham anymore. This is one of the very few surviving superheroes that is on a life or death mission, that actually seems like a frightening future that they have no hope in saving. He’s all business and will snap at anyone that moves him away from his plan. We’ve never seen a more brutal Batman in film than we did in those final scenes, and it was mesmerizing.
It seemed like they finally figured out the direction that they wanted to take the character. Had they gone through with his standalone film (that is now going in a different direction with Robert Pattinson), there’s no telling how wildly different it would’ve been from any DCEU film, especially after knowing what we know now of Snyder’s vision.
Had Snyder’s Justice League been the film to keep his version of the DCEU going, the proposed Affleck standalone Batman film, directed by Affleck, could’ve been grittier, violent, and creative than anything we could’ve imagine. Unfortunately, with Affleck leaving the DCEU, we’ll never know officially how things would’ve gone if they continued in this direction.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is streaming now on HBO Max.