Director Zack Snyder has given fans their first glimpse of Ben Affleck as Batman in the coming Man of Steel sequel, and devotees of one of the greatest Batman visionaries of all time should be pretty pleased.
Snyder tweeted a black and white photo of Batman standing next to the Batmobile on the set of the film, unofficially titled Batman vs. Superman.
The photo shows a very bulky, muscular Batman with bulging veins, a much bigger Bat symbol on his chest compared with the one Christian Bale wore, and a cowl that is attached to the cape and has smaller ears than his predecessor.
On the whole, it’s incredibly reminiscent of the Batman in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, a four-issue comic book miniseries that was released in 1986.
That comic remains one of the darkest, grittiest Batman stories of all time.
Arguably also the greatest Batman comic, it features an older Bruce Wayne who, at 55, comes out of retirement to save Gotham City from a gang known as the Mutants. Importantly, the comic also features a fight between the Caped Crusader and Superman, so it’s fair to assume Snyder may be working from it as source material, as others have pointed out.
“Since Affleck is rumoured to be playing an older Batman in the upcoming film, it may not be surprising that Snyder would draw on Miller’s grittier designs,” Bryan Bishop wrote for The Verge.
Reaction so far has been mostly positive.
“Since a fair few people have asked me and despite my opinion in this mater being irrelevant, I think the new Batman costume looks awesome,” actor Simon Pegg tweeted.
The suit was also praised as “amazing!” and “brilliant” on the Twitter feed of Michael Wilkinson, the costume designer who also worked on 300 and Man of Steel.
Not everyone is a fan, of course.
“Please, not another brooding Batman,” bemoaned Salon’s headline.
The movie is set for release on May 6, 2016. Henry Cavill will return as Superman, while Gal Gadot will be introduced as Wonder Woman. Ray Fisher will play Cyborg, meaning it looks as if Snyder is doing everything in his powers to set up a Justice League movie, something DC Comics has no doubt been begging for as it watched Marvel’s super team, The Avengers, take in more than $1.5-billion at he box office worldwide.