Ben Affleck and Zack Snyder on Their 'Older, Broken' Batman

Gwynne Watkins

Ben Affleck had some doubts about playing Batman — until director Zack Snyder explained that the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice character would be a different kind of Dark Knight.

“Initially I thought, ‘I’m older, it doesn’t seem like the right sort of fit for me,’” Ben Affleck told Empire Magazine for their new cover story (via Comic Book Movie). “Then Zack pitched me his concept for this older, more broken, kind of f—d up Batman. It was something we haven’t seen. We have seen that Batman is willing to cross the line to protect people. That vigilantism has been a part of his character all along, and we are tapping into that mentality when faced by something as potentially as deadly as Superman.”

Related: Batman, Superman and the Suicide Squad: What We Learned at Warner Bros.’ Comic-Con Panel

Snyder confirmed that Affleck’s Batman is 45 or 46 years old (older than the actor’s actual age of 42), and has been fighting crime as the Caped Crusader for 20 years. “All the history is there,” he said. “Was there a Robin at one time? Possibly.” (Judging from the latest trailer, presumably released after this interview, the answer is “definitely.”)

Not only is the new Batman suffering from the loss of his sidekick, his parents, and the occupants of Wayne Tower (which was destroyed during Superman’s battle with Zod), but his whole worldview has been turned upside-down by the emergence of Superman. “We want to assume that Batman has reached this point in his life and career as a superhero, and Superman represents a sort of philosophical change,” Snyder told Empire. “He is a paradigm shift for Batman: ‘I’ve been fighting criminals all my life, trying to find justice, and now I am confronted with a concept that is transcendent to me.’ In the face of Superman, a man robbing a bank doesn’t matter.”

“He’s having a crisis of conscience,” Snyder added. “‘Am I really just a vigilante who stalks the alleys of Gotham?’”

In the Empire story, the director discussed how the different DC universe movies fit together, revealing that Batman is the one responsible for locking up the super villains of Suicide Squad (who are in the high-security prison Belle Reve when the movie begins). Batman v Superman, he said, is the start of a huge story arc that will span all the DC superhero films, including the upcoming Suicide Squad and Justice League.

“What we are doing is ground-up all the way. It is one giant story,” said Snyder. “The first thing we had was the Justice League concept. The other movies, in a way, have to support that. That is our Wonder Woman, our Aquaman. They have their own creative concepts that supports them, but they do serve Justice League in the coming together of those heroes.”

Related: 'Suicide Squad’ Behind the Scenes: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, and More

Snyder also revealed that he could have directed a solo Batman movie for his next DC universe endeavor, but chose not to because of his respect for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. “If it was a Batman movie, it would be a much more difficult proposition because of how good Chris’ movies are,” Snyder said. “We live in gratitude to those movies. Chris set a tone for the DC Universe, and separated us from Marvel in a great way. We are the legacy of those movies.“ A new Batman standalone movie is reportedly in the works with Affleck as director.

Watch a trailer for ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’