The next Justice League meeting might be a bit chilly, as Ben Affleck has been snubbed for the title of Best Batman by his co-star, Jason Momoa (Aquaman). Momoa’s favorite? Will Arnett’s LEGO Batman.
“You’re the best f–king Batman,” he said to Arnett at CinemaCon, where he was acting as moderator for a panel on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.
Of course, this was all in good fun (and anyway, how could Momoa have picked another actor with Arnett right there?) Still, one can find a certain level of meaning in this joke, given the success of recent DC Comics properties.
Affleck began his role as the Caped Crusader in the DC Extended Universe’s second movie, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Many fans were skeptical, but it turns out that most people liked his acting in the role; it was the way the part was written that proved controversial. The DCEU Batman was brooding and violent even by the character’s standard, and seems to kill numerous people, some innocent, over the course of the movie, which was generally deemed too dour and confusing.
The DCEU has tried to course-correct since then, and Affleck’s take on the character was notably more “jokey” in Justice League, thanks to the efforts of de facto co-director Joss Whedon. Still, that movie (which also featured Momoa’s real premiere as Aquaman) was deemed merely “okay.” While a Batman solo movie directed by Matt Reeves is in the works, Affleck has hinted that he wants to leave the franchise soon, so the part may need to be recast when and if it gets made.
The LEGO Batman Movie, in contrast, was a family-friendly comedy and borderline parody, even cracking a few jokes at the DCEU’s expense. The thing is, it actually functioned surprisingly well as a Batman film, showing the nuances of a version alike and yet quite different than his usual portrayals. It was also quite financially successful (compared to the disappointing performances of Batman v Superman and Justice League), which seems to have helped Warner Bros. get the message that they need to make more “fun” superhero films if they want to attract larger audiences.
Fans hope that Aquaman itself will strike that balance when it comes out, currently scheduled for December 21, 2018.