Justice League: Ben Affleck (And Some Fans) Are Wrong About Batman's Darkness

Gritty and dark is not a problem. And it's nothing new.

Batman Penguin
Warner Bros.

When Empire released their Justice League themed newest issue, inevitably fans and media types went straight to the feature to pick apart every new scrap of information and to find out some new insight from those involved in the movie. It's what we do, and it feeds the hype train's engines quite wonderfully for Warner Bros.

One of the biggest things that came out of the feature (aside from the praising of Zack Snyder by the entire cast and the assurances that it's still his vision), was the revelation that Ben Affleck thinks criticism of Batman v Superman was "fair". Here's what he said:

“I can understand people saying [Batman v Superman] was too dark, or this was outside the tone of what I’m used to seeing with a Batman story, and I think that’s a fair criticism.”

He used that point as a launch-pad for talking about how Justice League is a lighter movie - and always was intended to be - without the same "heavy melodrama" as its predecessor. It's marketing talk, in an attempt to pull back some fans who may not have fallen in love with Batman v Superman, but it's also based on a fundamental untruth. Or two actually.

The first is that people hated Batman v Superman because it was "too dark". This is one of those easy go-to criticisms that completely ignores the actual fabric of the argument. Batman v Superman wasn't too dark, it was poorly made. It was an excessive, unrestrained mess that was badly edited, illogically scripted at times and plain silly at others. It was underpinned by bad decisions - creative and technical - and a fundamental misunderstanding of characterisation.

It wasn't too dark, it was disappointingly made, to the point that all of the good points - another acknowledgement that tends to be left out when people throw around platitudes about BvS - evaporated quickly out of memory. Or most of them, anyway.

Anyone who focuses all of their criticism on Batman v Superman as a "it's too dark" bubble are completely wrong, whether they're fans or critics or talent involved in making it.

And secondly, Affleck's statement seems to suggest that Batman movies have never been dark before, making the criticism fair in context of the franchise. Apparently, Tim Burton's Batman movies - you know, the ones that were so dark that Warner Bros basically fired him and told Joel Schumacher to go silly to sell toys - never happened?

You go back and watch Batman Returns now and it's a significantly darker film than Batman v Superman. It has far, far weighter ideas behind it, far more grotesque characters, far more gothicness and scary elements. Batman v Superman is more of a toy-selling movie, with some melodrama added to it. It's not even close to a competition.

So maybe we all need to stop thinking Batman v Superman was the most dark Batman movie and start just acknowledging the legitimate criticisms instead?

Read Next: Justice League: 13 Complaints Everyone Will (Probably) Have

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