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In the summer of 2013, a little more than a month removed from the release of Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder took the stage at San Diego Comic-Con and revealed that his next film would feature Superman and Batman meeting on the big screen for the first time. Instant and enthusiastic speculation over who Snyder would choose as his version of the Dark Knight followed, and the filmmaker ultimately chose Ben Affleck to play a slightly older, disillusioned version of Bruce Wayne for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and its sequel, Justice League.
Though his time in the cape and cowl was ultimately rather short, and plans for a solo film featuring his version of the Caped Crusader were scrapped, Affleck's Batman remains a favorite for many fans, which explains why director Andy Muschietti wanted to revive the character for his upcoming Flash film, if only for a little while. Snyder clearly had a particular image of Batman in mind when he selected Affleck for the role, but that doesn't mean he only had one actor in his head.
While making the rounds to promote his zombie heist film Army of the Dead, Snyder recently stopped by Josh Horowitz's Happy Sad Confused podcast, where the talk eventually turned to his time in the DC Universe. During a discussion about casting his Justice League team, Horowitz asked Snyder if he'd thought about who he would've cast as Batman had Affleck said no. His answer: Matthias Schoenaerts, an actor who was in 2013 best known for acclaimed dramas like Bullhead and Rust and Bone.
"I was talking to him a lot about it," Snyder explained.
When Horowitz asked if the discussions with Schoenaerts ever got as far as the Bat-suit, Snyder added, "He never got in the suit, but I did do a bunch of mockups of him, because Ben was on the fence, you know. And I don't blame him. Everyone should be on the fence when you're asked, 'Do you want to play Batman?"
Of course, Snyder ultimately did land Affleck for the role, but it's fascinating to consider what might have been if he'd gone with Schoenaerts instead. The Belgian actor was in his mid-30s at the time Snyder was casting the role, and while he certainly wasn't unknown to film fans in general, he was also not a major name in the same way Affleck was, particularly in the genre world. In the years since, through films like Red Sparrow and The Old Guard, Schoenaerts has added more action bona fides to his list of credits, but almost a decade ago his casting would've made a lot of superhero movie fans go running to IMDb to search his name. Still, we're sure somewhere out in the multiverse he's playing Batman right now, and absolutely crushing it.