Zack Snyder Wants To Do Dark Knight Returns Movie But Without Henry Cavill & Ben Affleck

By Richard Nebens Posted:
Zack Snyder, Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck

Zack Snyder is known as one of the most vocal personalities in the realm of comic book movies, particularly over the past couple of years after making a semi-return to the DC Extended Universe. 

Following his exit from Justice League and the intense negative criticism towards Warner Bros. that came with that departure, Snyder got to share his true vision for the movie with the release of Zack Snyder's Justice League on HBO Max in March.

During the promotional tour for this event, Snyder has spoken on multiple occasions about films he's imagined making if he were given the right opportunity, especially in the DC universe. This includes examples like Braniac being a part of his Henry Cavill-starring Man of Steel sequel as well as plans for the New Gods and Green Lanterns to do battle in a potential follow-up to Justice League.

His most recent podcast appearance revealed another dream project that he would have loved to take on... 


Batman Dark Knight Returns

Director Zack Snyder came onto the Happy Sad Confused podcast with Josh Horowitz to chat about his work with the DCEU, as well as his dream DC projects that he'd like to direct.

Horowitz looked back at the "Dark Knight Returns" comic story, which Snyder proceeded to call his "white whale" and his "holy grail."

Commenting on how Snyder took pieces of that plot for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Horowitz asked if Snyder would like making it someday with DCEU stars Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck. Snyder replied that it would "just be its own thing" and that he would make it more "Watchmen-style" in its own universe:

“It would just be its own thing. I would just do it 100% Watchmen-style, really frame-accurate, really…really do it. I don’t think it would be that expensive, to be honest. I don’t think so. It’s pretty gritty. There’s that dialogue in there that’s just incredible. The VO in that movie is Frank at his best. That whole ‘the rain on my chest is a baptism’ thing.”

Imagining an actor like Clint Eastwood playing that version of Bruce Wayne, Snyder agreed that that was "the kind of guy you need." While he doesn't have an idea of who would play the role now, he described his ideal Batman actor as "crusty" and "awesome" for a "Dark Knight Returns" storyline:

“Oh, yeah! That’s the kind of guy you need. Some crusty, awesome…it’s hard to say who it would be right now, you’d have to look around. I don’t know if it’s obvious."

Snyder admitted that it would have to be someone "in their 50's" who "could play in their 60's," but who was also huge and could still fight. He lingered on the idea of "how big [Batman] is in the book," picturing how the hero would look trying to handle a gun:

"I think probably in their 50’s, and they could play in their 60’s, early 60’s. I think he’s still in his late 50’s in the comic book. But still, that’s old for knocking around, fighting. I always love, also how big he is in the book. There’s that whole bit where he’s trying to grab that gun and he can’t get his finger in the trigger guard because it’s so little. That’s cool. There’s that shot where he’s carrying her, and she’s just so small in his arms. You just have to find some big f***ing guy. Who’s huge?"

Bursting into laughter at the end of the section, Snyder imagined an idea of actors Howie Long and Robert De Niro being stuck together as one perfect example:

"You know who it is? Howie Long...I was just thinking of a picture! I don’t know if he could play it, but I’m just saying. If you had Howie Long and Robert De Niro, you stick them together."


Zack Snyder hasn't held back how passionate he is about bringing Batman to life on the big screen, as he did with Ben Affleck's portrayal of the Caped Crusader in Batman v Superman and both versions of Justice League. Interestingly enough, this particular story comes on the heels of a big-budget movie that came to the big screens nearly a decade ago.

The Dark Knight Rises was the final movie in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy in 2012 with Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, and Tom Hardy as Bane. While that story certainly took elements and themes from its comic book inspiration, Snyder's vision seems to be something much more closely tied to its comic roots.

The director's comment on this proposed project being something completely detached from the DCEU likely indicates once again that he's moved on from Warner Bros.' cinematic universe, although the idea is certainly an exciting one nonetheless. It's currently unlikely that a project like this would get made for release, but it adds to the growing list of potentials for Warner Bros. to tackle within the DC universe.

- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.