the batman ben affleck

Matt Reeves’ The Batman is now in production with Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader, but once upon a time, things were going to be different. At one point, Ben Affleck, who played Batman in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman and Justice League, was set to direct and star in a new solo Batman movie. Affleck spent a while developing the project, and came close to making it – but in the end, it wasn’t to be.

But what kind of movie might Ben Affleck’s The Batman have been? According to Joe Manganiello, who was set to play villain Deathstroke in the film, Affleck’s The Batman was going to be a lot like David Fincher’s The Game.

I’ll get this out of the way up front: I’m no fan of Zack Snyder’s DCEU films. That said, I do think that Ben Affleck made for a pretty good Batman. I enjoyed Affleck’s take on a crime fighter who has gone off the deep end and then slowly learns to pull himself back to the brink and work with others – it was something we hadn’t really seen from the character on the big screen before. I’m also a fan of Affleck’s directorial efforts, so with all that in mind, I was interested in his Batman movie.

Plans for Affleck’s solo Batman adventure were announced in 2014, and Affleck worked on the first script for the project with Geoff Johns. But the movie remained in limbo, and by 2017, Affleck announced that he would no longer be directing the movie, just acting in it. Matt Reeves eventually took the directing job, and for a while there, Affleck remained attached to play the Dark Knight. Eventually, the inevitable happened: Affleck departed the project entirely, making way for a new Batman. And based on the teaser trailer, the movie Reeves has put together looks pretty damn great.

But a part of me can’t help but wonder how Affleck’s version would’ve turned out. Now, thanks to Joe Manganiello, we have some idea. Manganiello was cast to play villain Deathstroke in the film, and he even had a post-credit cameo in Justice League. Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment, Manganiello shed some light on what Affleck was cooking up. “There were similarities to The Game,” the actor said. “It was really cool, really dark and really hard. I was very excited for it.”

The Game is, of course, David Fincher’s excellent 1997 thriller about a cold, lonely, wealthy man who slowly has his life unravel when he signs up for what he thinks is a harmless game. Much like Michael Douglas’ character in that movie, Affleck’s Bruce Wayne was going to have his world upended. As Manganiello puts it:

“It was a really dark story in which Deathstroke was like a shark or a horror movie villain that was dismantling Bruce’s life from the inside out. It was this systemic thing: He killed everyone close to Bruce and destroyed his life to try and make him suffer because he felt that Bruce was responsible for something that happened to him.”

That sounds interesting, and a part of me wonders if any of these ideas have carried over into Reeves’ The Batman, which looks very Fincher-esque, and appears to have a plot where a supervillain – in this case The Riddler instead of Deathstroke – is targeting Batman. We’ll have to wait and see, because The Batman doesn’t open until March 4, 2022.

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