Filmmaker and comic book guru Kevin Smith says he would have preferred Christian Bale to continue his role at Batman/Bruce Wayne in the DC Extended Universe, rather than have Ben Affleck take over the role. The Batman movie franchise has seen its share of highs and lows over the past 13 years, beginning with the highs thanks to the critical acclaim and blockbuster success of writer-director Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy from 2005 to 2012; and ending with the lows over the general fan disdain and underwhelming financial returns of the critically-maligned DCEU films Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League.
Nolan’s trilogy, of course, starred Bale as the Caped Crusader, while writer-director Zack Snyder, who kicked off the DCEU with Man of Steel in 2013, opted to cast Affleck in the coveted role beginning in 2016 with Batman V Superman. And while BVS and Justice League left fans questioning what could have made both films better, Smith – who is arguably the most high-profile fan of the genre, at least as far as the movie industry is concerned – is weighing in with his thoughts, which some people may find surprising.
Musing over the DCEU’s creative choices on his Fatman on Batman podcast (via Cinema Blend), Smith made the startling statement that Bale should have continued playing Batman in favor of the casting of Affleck. His reasoning was relatively simple, saying the decision all comes down to a continuity issue and Nolan’s continued involvement with DC Films as a co-writer and producer on Man of Steel. Instead, the gruff, brooding Batman fans got with Bale was replaced with a quite different version of the character. He says:
It feels like they weren’t saying that Ben was Christian Bale, but they were saying like ,’Oh he’s been around for years he’s not that guy anymore.’ I think I would have preferred it, and this ain’t shitting on Affleck, but as a guy who loved the Nolan trilogy when they announced like hey they’re making Man of Steel and Chris Nolan’s a producer on it, ‘I was like, “Oh f–k man, so that means like his Batman and his Superman will coexist.’ And then ultimately it wound up being Zack Snyder’s Superman and Batman instead. I would have preferred the Christian Bale version just as a continuity freak.
Also, by casting Bale, Smith believes the DCEU could have avoided a lot of complaining by fans. He says:
And also it would have been like, what does everyone bitch about DC movies doing? Oh, they’re trying to be like Marvel and catch up to Marvel. They had it right there. They were like making these f–king Batman movies forever so now we’re just going to connect them, so we’ve got a universe but instead they launched a brand-new universe.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Smith’s thoughts on preferring Bale over Affleck is the fact that the filmmaker and Affleck were friends and collaborators for years, dating back to 1995’s Mallrats and continuing with Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jersey Girl, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, as well as a cameo in Clerks II. And while the pair haven’t worked on a film together in 12 years – and Smith has noted previously that they’ve lost touch – it certainly doesn’t appear Smith’s remarks have anything to do with bad blood between the pair, especially since he noted he wasn’t slamming Affleck in his comments.
If anything, fans, and even Affleck, should be happy with Smith’s honesty, because he’s giving his opinion on the matter as a dedicated fan who cares about the DC movie universe and isn’t putting anything – even friendships – ahead of it. It will be interesting to see what Smith thinks of director Matt Reeves’ upcoming DC film The Batman, especially since Affleck may be replaced as Batman, and, to add another wrinkle to the proposition, Reeves may possibly break continuity with the DCEU. If that’s the case, the self-described “continuity freak” Smith’s head will really be sent spinning.
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