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The Lost Ben Affleck Batman Movie Had A Dark Knight Martial Arts First

The Ben Affleck Batman movie continues to greatly interest DC fans, and a recent storyboard reveal shows the role martial arts played in it.

The Ben Affleck Batman movie had a martial arts element that was to be a big first for the superhero. Affleck’s performance as Batman was beset with numerous behind-the-scenes issues that would lead to Affleck departing the role, with Robert Pattinson succeeding him in Matt Reeves’ unconnected The Batman. Affleck would later return to film additional scenes for Zack Snyder’s Justice League and signed on for The Flash, while a picture of what Ben Affleck’s Batman movie was going to be has gradually taken shape over the years.

A recently released image of Deathstroke by artist Jay Oliva shows Slade Wilson (to have been portrayed by Joe Manganiello) wielding his sword against Batman, whose face is reflected in the blade. Oliva’s image, by placing Slade’s so prominently in it, draws attention to the role that both his and Bruce Wayne’s skills as martial artists were meant to play in Ben Affleck’s unproduced Batman movie. The image also shows that, by having a swordsman like Deathstroke as a villain, Affleck may have been bringing swordplay into a Batman film like never before.


Related: How Affleck’s Movie Would’ve Been Different From Pattinson’s The Batman

Batman’s various comic book stories, animated shows, and films have occasionally depicted him fighting opponents who have swords and, from time to time, even using one himself. Tim Burton’s Batman and Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins brought swords into the equation, but they did so in a relatively brief and compartmentalized way. By having Deathstroke as the main villain in a Ben Affleck Batman film, he was preparing to pit Bruce Wayne against an opponent with a sword to an extent that was cinematically unprecedented.

Ben Affleck’s Batman Would Have Fought Deathstroke With Swords

Deathstroke concept art

In the Ben Affleck Batman movie, the hero was slated to fight against Deathstroke with swords. In that respect, the upgrade Batman’s suit was to undergo made a lot of sense for fighting Slade. Concept art of Affleck’s Batsuit was released by artist Keith Christensen that showed the intended look for the film, showing it to be heavily armored and flexible enough for the wearer to be very agile inside of it. Going up against Deathstroke, Batman would need both on his side to match Slade’s extensive combat skills, and deflect strikes from his sword.

Joe Manganiello has spoken quite openly about Ben Affleck’s Batman movie, likening it to David Fincher’s The Game and describing Slade as having a deep bloodlust against Batman. What Oliva’s image reinforces is that one of the primary goals of the film was making Batman’s confrontation with Deathstroke into a superhero showdown to remember. Affleck’s Batman movie would also be following the fresh memory of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and acting as a spin-off from Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The former notably included Batman’s warehouse fight reminiscent of The Raid movies. With Ben Affleck’s Batman movie following on such high Caped Crusader warrior standards, Oliva’s image makes it undeniable that Affleck was eager to match, and even outdo, that Batman battle by adding in sword combat from Slade.

What Stopped The Ben Affleck Batman Franchise?

After Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Affleck’s departure from the Batman franchise was shocking. So, why did Ben Affleck leave Batman? According to the star, he simply found no joy in the part. Affleck got his start as the Caped Crusader in the crossover film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, going up against Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent. His Batman then appeared in Suicide Squadand finally Justice League. He will only be seen as the dark knight one final time, as he’s in the upcoming The Flash movie. Prior to The Flash, Ben Affleck’s Batman was set to appear in Robert Pattinson’s The Batman. He wrote the earliest drafts of the script and was even slated to direct. However, due to creative differences and studios putting Matt Reeves at the helm instead, Affleck left the project.

Related: Ben Affleck’s The Batman Was Like James Bond: How That Could’ve Worked

According to Entertainment Weekly, Matt Damon played a role in his decision to quit the franchise, providing further insight into the question, “why did Ben Affleck leave Batman.” Damon reportedly told the actor to only work on films that made him happy, and Justice League wasn’t one of them. “I didn’t think it was interesting. And then some really shitty things, awful things happened. But, that’s when I was like, ‘I’m not going to do that anymore,'” Affleck stated. In addition, Justice League‘s poor box office reception could’ve had a hand in why Ben Affleck left Batman behind.

The Deathstroke artwork has galvanized ongoing interest in the Ben Affleck Batman film, but there’s a lot more going on within the image itself. Oliva’s reveal of the Deathstroke image has also shown that Slade was planned to be an enemy with a blade to challenge the Dark Knight’s fighting skills in Affleck’s standalone Batman story. While this would likely appeal to DC fans and general audiences, it seems martial arts movie lovers may well have found Ben Affleck’s Batman movie to be a very pleasant surprise.

Next: How Batman’s Story Ended In Snyder’s Original Justice League 2 & 3 Plan

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