Many of us think of Batman as a mainstay of pop culture. We know him from the 90’s cartoon, the Burton films, the Nolan movies or even the comic book and think of him as possibly the most important comic book character. But the truth is that his popularity has come in waves with little to no interest shown toward the world’s greatest detective in between each ‘era.’
In 1939, Batman was a major hit. Combining pulp detective sensibilities and dark stories more at home in a horror novel, he was a cult creation. In print his success but slumped in the 1950’s when superhero comics fell from grace (yes, there was a time when superhero comics were not popular). In 1966, the Batman TV series revived the caped crusader for prime time viewers before dissolving into camp obscurity. In 1989, Batman returned more powerful than ever in a gritty blockbuster movie that returned the hero to his roots (only to meet his demise in a very very poorly made toy commercial masquerading as a movie). 2005 saw Batman obtain a new lease on life in the decidedly dark trilogy directed by Chris Nolan. But after its conclusion, Warner Bros. wondered what was next.
We have officially entered the latest stage of the dark knight’s life as Ben Affleck dons the cowl in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, a movie that will see the two titan square off for the first time on the big screen.
At 42, Affleck is an unusual choice to play a new Batman. Usually the studio wants to select a younger actor for such a high profile physically demanding role. In this case, the decision was to present Batman as an older and more established crime fighter who is challenging Superman as a new threat. Rumors abound regarding plot details such as Batman avenging Alfred’s death in the battle of Metropolis but we will have to wait and see.
This Batman is much more of a brutal fighter than a thinking man’s tactician, as the trailer shows his Batplane, Batmobile and armored suit all looking capable of fighting a small war. With the only line of dialog so far ‘Do you bleed? You will.’ directed at Superman, this could be the toughest Batman to date.
While future Batman films seem inevitable, Affleck has already been spotted on the set of the Suicide Squad film, confirming rumors that Batman will make an appearance alongside the Joker played by Jared Leto.
Directed by David Ayter, Suicide Squad (which has an August 5th, 2016 release date) will feature Adam Beach (Slipknot), Jai Courtney (Boomerang), Karen Fukuhara (Katana), Cara Delevingne (Enchantress), Joel Kinnaman (Rick Flag), Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Will Smith (Deadshot), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Killer Croc) and Jay Hernandez (El Diablo). The squad is an elite strikeforce of criminals sent into deadly action where death is almost a certainty. While not a Batman movie, it will flesh out the new Batman world and give fans their first look at the latest version of the Joker played by Jared Leto.
It’s important to note that this image of a tatted-up Joker is not the final version of what we will see on film and has been established as an homage to the character’s anniversary. Mmm-hmm. Sure. Personally, I think that the image was released online to test the waters and when they were found to be turbulent the studio doubled back.
In any case, we are entering a new age of the Batman. One where Batman is older, grimmer and his villains far deadlier and numerous. This version of Batman will also exist in a world of superpowered threats and aliens rather than just gangsters. It’s quite a departure and a major gamble on Warner Bros.’ part.
Will this be another successful Batman or will it be a dud?