Ben Affleck's Batman divided audiences when Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice hit theaters in 2016. Fans loved Affleck's actual performance — especially considering the outraged skepticism when he was first cast in the role — but the character as written seemed far more like a bloodthirsty vigilante than a hero.
Fortunately, in the two Justice League trailers released so far, Bruce Wayne is once again the Caped Crusader we know and love, assembling the team of DC superheroes.
Bruce Wayne has changed since the conclusion of Batman V Superman. Batman is preparing for the worst — and knows that he can no longer do things alone. At one point Batman wanted Superman dead, but he changed his mind when he realized that Kal-El was a force for good. Batman took back everything he had thought about the Man of Steel, and vowed to continue his legacy: “I failed him, in life. I won’t fail him in death.”
Batman Is Now A Team Player
If there’s one trait that Batman isn’t typically known for, it’s being a team player. The entire point of The Lego Batman Movie was that he needed to trust others.
Throughout his Gotham years, he’s mostly been a hero who works solo. Batman v. Superman revealed that Robin had died at some point in this timeline, and it's left Bruce Wayne bitter and brutal:
Twenty years of Gotham, how many good guys are left? How many stayed that way?
The burden that this Batman has kept within him also kept him from getting attached to anyone. Why else would Batman have Robin’s costume displayed in his Batcave? It’s a reminder that he lost someone so dear to him that he can't risk it happening again.
And yet, Earth is now facing such powerful enemies that Batman can't save it by himself. He’ll need the help of others to fight this battle — and he'll need to trust them, just as he knows that he should've trusted Superman.
Batman Isn’t A Killer Anymore
The most revealing quote from the San Diego Comic-Con trailer is, "He didn’t just save people. He made them see the best part of themselves."
As we saw in Batman v. Superman, this Batman kills criminals and doesn’t show any kind of mercy. But Superman showed Batman himself mercy: “When they shine your light in the sky, don’t go to it. The Bat is dead. Bury it. Consider this mercy.” Clark Kent could have easily killed Bruce Wayne at their first meeting in costume, but chose not to. Though this was Batman’s first encounter with the Man of Steel, it left an impression.
Not so long ago, Batman claimed that “the son of a bitch brought the war to us two years ago.” Batman believed that this alien was a danger to the planet and could easily wipe out the entire human race. In the end, however, Superman convinced Batman to keep an open mind and, dare I say it, an open heart.
The new Batman makes jokes (his superpower? "I'm rich"), and reaches out to others instead of pushing them away. This growth and humility is what will make Batman a capable leader of the Justice League. He knows that — for all his brains and technology — he can't go toe-to-toe with extraterrestrial threats by himself, but with his brains, he can guide a team to victory.
Thanks to Superman, Batman isn't just the DCEU's Dark Knight; he's going to be its hero.
Justice League hits theaters on November 17.