When director Zack Snyder first announced “Superman Vs. Batman,” at Comic Con this summer, he asked Harry Lennix (General Swanwick in “Man Of Steel”) to read from a key line in Frank Miller’s seminal graphic novels, “The Dark Knight Returns.” Facing off against Superman, Batman said: “I want you to remember, Clark, in all the years to come, in all your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.”
Over the summer we pondered What Kind Of Batman Will Superman Face?, and 6 Things You Can Likely Expect from “Superman & Batman” and it appears that we’re on track. Yesterday Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara told the suits at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference that Batman will be “tired and weary and seasoned and been doing it for awhile.”
It’s only a nugget of information, but it essentially confirms once more that WB, Snyder and writer David Goyer are taking elements of “The Dark Knight Returns” graphic novel and transposing it on to this modern story. In “The Dark Knight Returns,” which takes place in a future alternate universe (i.e. it’s not what will happen to Batman eventually) Batman comes out of retirement close to his ‘60s to fight back a mutant army that is threatening Gotham. They key element that Snyder/Goyer/WB seem to be mining is the “weary and tired” idea. Yes, the Batman is Miller’s version is not only old, he’s been through decades of war that has made him cynical and angrier than usual.
So no, Ben Affleck — the actor cast as Batman much to the chagrin of nerds who believe that the actor would saunter into the production as Daredevil and ruin everything — won’t be playing a 60 year-old Dark Knight. But he will be playing one who is, as it sounds, a little mentally exhausted at fighting the good fight all these years against crime.
So what does it mean? For one, as we assumed, it likely means that we’ll spared yet another origin story, which is a smart play considering that between Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan’s films, there are probably two generations of filmgoers who already know about the orphaned boy turned superhero.
That being said, the key here will be making it distinct from the version played by Christian Bale. His Bruce Wayne was also weary (and a little bit retired too), and by “The Dark Knight Rises,” was already finding his joints in severely rough shape (yes, Nolan and co. read the same comics). Additionally, he was still an optimist about the power of the Batman symbology, but we think it’d be interesting if Affleck’s take found Bruce a bit cynical about it all, and less persuaded that what he’s done is worth a damn. In any event, there are lots of interesting directions this can go.
But to nerd nitpick for a minute, here’s what doesn’t parse. In “Man Of Steel” we’re kind of meant to believe that Superman is the world’s only known hero. Even David Goyer recently suggested that the arrival of this super being would galvanize and aspire other super powered humans on Earth to come out of hiding and follow in Superman’s footsteps saying: “…we’re implying there are other superheroes in this world. But I don’t know that they’ve come forward yet. The idea is that Superman is the first one. There might be people helping people, but not in costumes, and that Superman comes forward and announces himself to the world. In him announcing himself, he’s the one that changes things.”
If this Batman is “weary and tired” are we to believe he’s been fighting crime for a few years now and never came on Superman’s radar? Or anyone’s radar? Sure, he had Zod and other foes to face, but that does slightly feel odd that we’re to believe, all along there was another vigilante hero just a few cities away that he wasn’t aware of, or at least hand an inkling about. Guess we’ll see…
Thoughts? Share ’em below. “Superman Vs. Batman” arrives on July 17, 2015.