On the surface, this may sound like the most throwaway news in the entire world ‐ Ben Affleck is 41, whatever, you guys, even Wikipedia knows that — but the reveal of just how old Affleck’s character will be in his highly anticipated Batman debut signals one major plus for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: no more origin stories, we’re done with that stuff now. One of the superhero film’s producers, Michael Uslan, recently spoke to the Asbury Park Press (via Comic Book Movie and /Film) and let slip the following: “So, [the Batman universe casting backlash] has happened time and again, and it happened with Affleck. To go back to the original thought of Bruce Wayne in his mid-40s, I think he’s going to be extraordinary.”
Nice job slipping that little tidbit in there, Uslan. Of course, the news that Batman will be older than we’re used to seeing on the big screen isn’t really news, at least rationally speaking. At forty-one, Affleck is the oldest actor to play the role in a cinematic capacity (Christian Bale was thirty-one when Batman Begins debuted, George Clooney was thirty-six when Batman & Robin hit the screen, Val Kilmer was thirty-five in Batman Forever, and Michael Keaton was thirty-seven when he began his Batman run), but this is confirmation that the character itself will be older than we’ve previously experienced on the big screen. What’s most surprising about this news, however, is how it impacts another facet of Batman’s life: how long he’s actually been Batman.
Earlier this week, Badass Digest gave further credence to this news, sharing that their sources have indicated that the Batman of Batman v Superman “has existed for close to thirty years, which would place Wayne in his 50s (which is why I expected more grey in Affleck’s hair). In this version Batman is still an urban legend, a creature of the night, and no one has ever taken his picture. But he’s had plenty of adventures, and the Batcave includes a memorial centered around a tattered Robin costume. “
Moreover, BAD also shares that their sources have indicated “that Wonder Woman has also been in operation for some time before Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice begins, and her activities have been just as secretive as Batman’s. Her activities were badass as well… but in a very different, and unexpected, way.”
That’s right, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t just going to jettison Batman’s origin story, but Wonder Woman’s, too. In a way, we’re also getting out of Robin origin story, too, because the film is basically out of the Robin business while still being in it. (What do you think that memorial looks like? Are there candles? Is anyone else allowed to touch it? Does Alfred ever clean it? What does Robin’s suit look like?) Although we’d love to see a true Wonder Woman origin story ‐ we certainly have been waiting to see her on the big screen for quite awhile ‐ elements of her coming-up as the superheroine will likely still make their way into Snyder’s finished film.
But all that Batman origin jazz? Well, it looks we might finally be free of that. Just think, no more of this:
Or even this! (Yes, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a television show, but you see the point):
We know Batman’s origin story ‐ we get it ‐ and to have him appear, fully delivered and designed, in Batman v Superman is not just a step in the right direction for the superhero, but for all superheroes. Sure, how things happened to get the cape flowing is often compelling, but the idea of seeing what being a superhero is like three decades down the road is much more appealing in these origin-heavy movie days.
Back in 2012, our own Kevin Carr created a handy-dandy flowchart to determine if your superhero property was due for an origin story-heavy reboot. Unsurprisingly, under the chart’s constraints, Batman v Superman doesn’t need to fold in reboot elements.
Snyder and his Superman, Henry Cavill, have already done their own origin story with last year’s Man of Steel (a reboot that sort of gets away with the necessity of its creation by virtue of the fact that Snyder wanted “artistic freedom to reimagine the origin” (read: mixing up what really happened on Krypton), which is something that’s easy enough to argue was a bad idea, but hard to refute as being the central idea of the film. Snyder’s intention may not have been in the right place, but it was definitely there. Superman didn’t hit the ground running, but Batman can and should ‐ after all, Batman v Superman is about these two dueling superheroes (with dueling philosophies) coming to blows. There is zero time to harken back to baby Bruce’s marred childhood.
Kevin’s flowchart was specifically directed towards the release of 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man, a reboot that has proven to be unfruitful, perhaps because it came so close on the heels of Sam Raimi’s own franchise and didn’t do much to set itself apart (a slightly rejiggered origin story just seemed weird and forced). There is no reason to reboot Spider-Man, at least not in his Peter Parker incarnation. There is no reason to reboot Superman (and, with DC aiming to now burst open their own cinematic universe, we should be safe from such an event for quite some time). There is no reason to reboot Iron Man or The Hulk or Captain America, it’s all been done (and done well) and we can put it to rest for whole decades now. Breath easy.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will open on March 25, 2016.