Okay, before you think is a slam job on Christian Bale's masterful work in Christopher Nolan's sacrosanct The Dark Knight Trilogy, it is not. Rather this is simply another way to look at both his and Ben Affleck's Batman portrayals in a way that is objective and contemporary. It is objective because both are fine actors and it is contemporary because Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice just hit theaters. And it appears to be a big hit with fans.
By the time you read this story, the verdict on the film will be in...At least in the short term. Some apparently love it while others hate it. The fans have praised the movie for being an exciting comic book adventure that delivers on all promises. Critics haven't been so kind, granting the movie a 29% rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes. Over the weekend, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice scored a domestic total of $170 million, going onto earn a worldwide box office debut of $424.1 million, the highest global opening for any superhero movie. It's clear we'll definitely be seeing more from Ben Affleck's Batman, with the character already confirmed to return in this summer's Suicide Squad and next year's Justice League Part 1.
Christian Bale's Batman, though still looming large, just didn't have a place in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It didn't seem right by anyone to simply pluck that actor from the Christopher Nolan universe, and drop him into this world that is run by Henry Cavill's Kal-El. Even Christian Bale's ardent supporters, whether they wanted this new film or not, have not seemed to complain about him not having anything to do with this latest Batman movie.
Which brings us back to Ben Affleck. Once canonized with his "bro" Matt Damon, both have gone on to have very lucrative and critically acclaimed careers. Sure, Ben Affleck has had his ups and downs, but the fact that he never lost sight of his career (or that Hollywood could turn on him at any moment) seems to have paid dividends. It is this level-headedness that he brings to the role of the Dark Knight in a way Christian Bale did not.
As was stated above, Christian Bale was incredible as billionaire-turned-vigilante Bruce Wayne. However, the actor that has picked up the mantle, while maybe not as solid of a thespian as Bale, certainly knows what he's doing on screen. It is because of this that there are "7 Ways Ben Affleck's Batman is Better Than Christian Bale's."
Now, before you advance much further, know that this article was written to be spoiler free. In the interest of properly breaking down Ben Afflecks performance, certain "sensitive information" may have surfaced. Apologies up front if anything was revealed that should not have been. Now, let's get started.
Ben Affleck's Batman is More of A Team Player
Batman V Superman team
Christian Bale's Dark Knight always appeared one step ahead of the game. Whether he was working with friend or foe, he just seemed to be where he needed to be before anybody else ever got there. Conversely, Ben Affleck's Batman is behind the eight ball a lot. There are long stretches of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice where he is simply watching the action unfold. This might seem like a liability while it actually lets us see more into his mindset. While he sets out to destroy the Man of Steel, by the end of things, he's working alongside both Superman and Wonder Woman. They make a pretty great team, at least for a little while. Which leads to our next reason...
Ben Affleck's Batman Knows His Place
Batman V Superman Batsignal
The structure of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is different from many "comic book" films. In fact, this is one of its greatest strengths. Batman Begins was lauded for taking a long time to get The Dark Knight into his suit. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice takes a long time too, but not in the way that you might think. In fact, there are long stretches of action where Affleck's Batman is clearly playing a secondary role. He doesn't seem to have all the answers. As a result, him being triumphant is never a guarantee. But he's okay with that. He knows the purpose he serves, and is willing to take a backseat when needed. When Christian Bale realized there were greater forces at work, he simply vanished, never to be seen again.
Ben Affleck's Batman Exhibits Mood With a Purpose
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a dark film. However, Ben Affleck's Batman doesn't mope his way from scene to scene. In fact, he seems more like a man accepting (frame by frame) the way the world is, and what he needs to do in order to help save it. Initially, he is angry at Superman but ultimately his mood shifts with deft subtlety. We don't need a grand reveal to understand where our character stands, we've witnessed this evolution in every frame of their screen time.
Ben Affleck's Batman Exudes Mortality
Batman V Superman fight
This has absolutely nothing to do with the way that Christian Bale played Batman. Rather, as was mentioned before, one never got a sense that he had as much to lose. Sure, both Batman's are wealthy, but Ben Affleck brings a thoughtfulness even to the action scenes. At one point, not only do we see a crack in his shroud, we see that a piece of it has broken off. That piece could easily have been a part of Affleck's face and thus rendered him dead.
Ben Affleck's Batman IS Bruce Wayne
Bruce Wayne to the rescue
Make no mistake, Christian Bale certainly looked the part of Bruce Wayne. Ben Affleck just seems to have channeled something that not even Michael Keaton was able to. As the very wealthy business owner, it seems that Ben Affleck's Wayne has to contend with business just as much as he does battling his enemies. Christian Bale's Batman touched on this but not to the degree that Affleck's version seems to be running into bad guys AND running numbers.
Ben Affleck's Batman is Truer to the Comic Books
The Dark Knight Returns
At one point we see Ben Affleck, clad in his Dark Knight regalia, with his mask off in front of a computer screen. This image is striking because how many times have we seen our favorite comic book characters in such a human moment? One rarely sees this on screen, yet, comic books are replete with images like this. Their purpose seems to be add a layer of humanity to these characters. It seems to give their suit, the very thing that we identify them by, another layer by which we come to understand the demons that haunt these characters. This defines Ben Affleck's Batman in a way that Christian Bale's does not attain.
Ben Affleck's Batman Understands the Job
Robin Costume Batman V Superman
Christian Bale's Batman and Ben Affleck's both wanted to protect people. So if they have the same mindset, how they go about performing it should be of little consequence, right? Wrong. While Christian Bale's Batman did the job, Ben Affleck's character is the job. Both versions of this iconic superhero are coming at it from a deep personal conviction. However, Ben Affleck's Batman again seems to have dug deeper to find a very different way of getting there. In many regards, one could liken their portrayals to who was in office at the time these movies were in production. Christian Bale's Batman recalls the "smoke em' out of their holes"/unilateral policies of the George W. Bush presidency. Ben Affleck seems to be channeling Barack Obama. His Batman is more thoughtful in his approach and thus seems to have a greater understanding of this massive calling.
So, what do you think? Did we make a good case for why Ben Affleckis the better Batman? Are you looking forward to seeing him again in Suicide Squad and Justice League Part 1? Or does Christian Bale shine as he better caped crusader in your opinion? We'll always love Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne, but we are really glad Ben Affleck has pulled on the cowl, and await many more adventures with this version of the character. Sound off in the comments below.