WARNING: The rest of this article contains spoilers for The Batman.
Batman fans around the world are rejoicing as the time for Matt Reeves’ take on the famous Dark Knight has finally arrived. Under the cowl this time is Robert Pattinson, someone many were initially cautious about––though, given the film’s reception, it seems he may have nailed the part. Obviously, Pattinson is far from the first to take on the role. Among the many names who have put on that cowl are Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Christian Bale.
The most recent actor to portray the Caped Crusader before The Batman’s arrival was Ben Affleck, who made his first appearance in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman. While the actor technically only has two movies, and a cameo, under his belt, it still feels like he has been the hero for far longer.
Given how much he may be on the minds of viewers going in to see The Batman, let's take a look at the key differences between Ben Affleck and Robert Pattinson’s versions of the iconic protector of Gotham City.
1.) Billionaire Status
Before getting to the Batman persona, it’s best to look at the Bruce Wayne that resides underneath. Both versions of the characters are nowhere near the same.
Affleck’s Wayne is significantly older and more experienced, so a lot of that trauma from his past has been dealt with to a degree. This paves the way for a far more confident billionaire who is comfortable in those shoes.
He isn’t afraid to be seen as that side of himself and often uses the tools Wayne has access to in order to aid his Batman cases.
If Pattinson’s character could keep the Batsuit on forever, he would. Bruce Wayne is all but dead to him, hanging on by only a thread. The Batman is his existence and his everything––to an obvious fault.
2.) Experienced Vigilantism
In The Batman, Pattinson’s hero has only been doing the job for two years. In the DCEU, Affleck’s Dark Knight has been active for roughly twenty years. That’s about ten times more experience than the one seen in Reeves’ recent film.
This comes across in a variety of ways. The first can be seen in their costume and equipment. Pattinson’s Batsuit looks like pieces stitched together to form a cohesive, intimidating, yet still practical outfit. In fact, audiences can literally see the stitches in his cowl.
Affleck’s suit is crisp and clean––with high-tech, ultra-detailed gray fabric, instead of the clear padding seen in Pattinson’s. He also has multiple suits, including a seriously armored one to take on Superman himself and a different variation of a more protective suit which makes an appearance in Justice League.
While Pattinson may have a car and bike, Affleck also has a ship to complete the set. His Batcave is also far superior, with tech that might make Reeves’ Batman’s jaw drop; it’s also literally in a cave.
With the difference in experience, their fighting styles reflect those years as well. Pattinson’s is messy and brutal, while Affleck’s is far cleaner and precise while still retaining the brutality, of course.
3.) Killing Rules
Several times within The Batman, Robert Pattinson’s hero makes a pointed effort to get guns out of the equation while also ensuring no lives are being taken if at all avoidable. The iconic rule the Dark Knight has abided by in the comics for so long is in full effect within this recent adventure.
However, Ben Affleck’s take on the character does not have that, much to the chagrin of many fans. His hero isn’t afraid, not only of taking lives but also, to use guns. It’s something he does several times throughout his time on screen.
The reason for this is attributed to the loss of Jason Todd, who was formerly Robin, his prodigy. That particular trauma broke this Bruce and brought him to a very dark and cynical place.
By Justice League, the hero seems to have healed a little more, but hopefully, Pattinson’s Caped Crusader never sinks that low in the first place.
4.) Obsessive Tendencies
This next point parallels how experienced the two are comparatively: their obsessive focus. One deals with it far better than the other.
Throughout The Batman, it’s a big point how Pattinson’s hero becomes increasingly obsessed with figuring out Riddler’s schemes and stopping the criminal in his tracks. So much so that he even makes several mistakes––one of which is called out point-blank by The Penguin.
That obsessive drive led Bats down the wrong road, and eventually, to him completely missing all the signs that Riddler intended to flood Gotham City.
Sure, Affleck’s Batman is obsessive as well; all versions of the hero have to be to a point. But his drive leans far more to the side of determination than sloppy mistakes.
Not that he isn’t prone to them, however. After all, he did unsuccessfully try to kill Superman for the wrong reasons.
5.) Love Is In The Air
A love interest isn’t something people always attribute to Batman, but he does have them. The most prominent of which, in the comics, has been Catwoman.
She was obviously one of the key elements of the source material that Matt Reeves latched onto for The Batman, and their flirty, sexually tense dynamic gave a spark to the duo's interactions throughout the film. By the end of the movie, Pattinson’s Caped Crusader chooses his city over the girl, and they ride off into different directions, no doubt to rekindle in the future.
When it comes to Ben Affleck’s take on the hero, an on-screen romantic interest was never seen. Instead, his focus was always on his current goal, whether that be to kill Superman or unite the Justice League to defeat Darkseid.
Sure, there are some telling glances towards Diana or the scrapped romance between him and Louis Lane, but those temptations were not a part of any stories the DCEU Bats were a part of on-screen.
6.) The Bat-Family
One of the first big revelations with Ben Affleck’s Batman is how he has had a Robin in his life. While the character wasn’t seen in action, his costume was on display in a glass enclosure within the Bat Cave––defaced by The Joker himself.
In interviews, Snyder has confirmed that it was Jason Todd who once wore the suit and him who met his end thanks to Mr. J. His death hit Batman hard and is a big reason why the Dark Knight seen in Batman v Superman is so brutal.
It’s unknown how long the two of them worked together or if Bruce had other apprentices in action. But at the very least, he had started his Bat-Family.
Robert Pattinson’s Batman isn’t even close to the point where he could have a Dick Grayson or Jason Todd in his life. This version of the hero is barely on his own two feet as it is.
He’ll have to come to terms with himself before he considers taking on prodigies. But, speaking of, that leads to another massive difference between the two: teamwork.
7.) Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
It may seem odd to say that Robert Pattinson isn’t much for teamwork, seeing as in this film, he’s seen working alongside Jim Gordon and Catwoman throughout the entirety of the story.
However, he starts those situations entirely for himself. Batman is only part of those dynamics because he needs them to figure out the respective problems he attempts to solve.
Throughout The Batman, nearly all the teamwork is one-sided, with Bruce doing whatever he wants and others willingly, or forcibly, following suit. It’s how the entire Catwoman dynamic started, after all. Clearly, the character is on the path to becoming better at this aspect of his heroism, but he certainly didn’t naturally start with the talent.
The same may have been true for Ben Affleck’s Batman at one point. However, he took on a Robin at some point, and by Justice League, he was going out of his way to recruit an entire team—and trying to keep them together.
It’s hard to see Pattinson’s hero going out of his way to work together with anyone, only doing so out of absolute necessity.
8.) Connections to a Wider World
This one may seem a little obvious, but it truly is one of the biggest differences between the two individual heroes and their entire cinematic worlds. Ben Affleck has had a wider world with which he has interacted, while Pattinson’s remains relegated to the confines of Gotham City.
Affleck’s membership into the Justice League makes a world of difference; interacting with those otherworldly characters would change anyone’s perspective on life––especially the Dark Knight’s. In fact, it even scared him at first, seeing as he went after Superman to try and kill him before he became a threat.
It’s unclear what Pattinson has faced besides some mobsters, Riddler, and the Joker, but there are certainly no signs of the likes of Superman or Wonder Woman in his existence. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like a side of the character that Matt Reeves is very interested in exploring.
Fingers crossed that changes one day.
The Batmen of This Generation
An important note to keep in mind about these comparisons is how Ben Affleck’s take on the character has multiple movies to pull from, while Pattinson only has one. Even with that, however, it’s pretty clear that the renditions of the two couldn’t be more different.
Hopefully, Pattinson will get plenty more stories told on the big screen, giving time for his take on the famous hero time to become even more fleshed-out.
As for Ben Affleck’s adaptation, sadly, his time is coming to an end. It’s been no secret that the actor had a rocky time while embodying the Caped Crusader, and hearing all the various horror stories from the set, it’s hard to blame the actor for wanting out, which is exactly what’s set to happen later this year during The Flash.
The details of what happens aren’t known, but if the ominous first footage from the film is to be believed, it seems like he may become a causality of Barry Allen’s timeline manipulations.
Though, the DCEU won’t be Batman-less after that. Michael Keaton will be returning to his role as the Caped Crusader in the same project that Affleck will be making his exit. Rumors indicate he will become the new de-facto Batman, something backed up by his presence in the upcoming Batgirl film.
It’s a wonderful time to be alive for a Batman fan, being able to witness three vastly different interpretations of the character in the span of one year.
Hopefully, wherever Matt Reeves’ next movie takes the story, Robert Pattinson’s take on the hero will be able to continue carving out his own unique corner of the character’s mythos.
The Batman is playing in theaters worldwide.