Ben Affleck improvised Batman’s most human DCEU line when the hero first laid eyes on Doomsday in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The superheroes in Batman v. Superman were, in many ways, larger than life, which the movie made sure to emphasize with their almost godlike personas, making Batman (Ben Affleck)’s reaction to Doomsday even funnier. After so much setup, the moment he came face-to-face with his opponent, he couldn’t help muttering “oh sh*t!” — a line that almost didn’t happen at all.
Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) had manipulated Batman into fighting Superman (Henry Cavill) in the Batman v. Superman movie, and despite the clear power difference between them, Batman never backed down from the challenge. He and Alfred (Jeremy Irons) got into many disagreements over his own limitations, which Batman had never seemed particularly concerned about before. Yet, when Lex unleashed the monster Doomsday to finish the job of defeating Superman, that mindset changed.
Batman’s “oh sh*t!” line when he saw Doomsday humanized the character better than most of his scenes in the DCEU so far, and was entirely improvised by Affleck. Affleck simply thought such a line would be funny, likely unaware at the time of just how well it would work in an otherwise rather serious film with such serious characters. Although Batman has fought enemies stronger than himself before, most notably his conflict with Superman throughout the film, this was one of the only times the DCEU suggested he knew just how outmatched he was. The jarring impact of the usually unwavering hero admitting he was a bit hopeless in the situation really worked, since Batman’s particular skill set couldn’t do much against a creature like Doomsday, and everyone knew it.
Many DCEU movies — Batman movies in particular — have shied away from humanizing their heroes too much, creating a stark difference between the DCEU’s and the MCU’s approaches to most of its superhero stories. While this can work well in certain cases, it also risks preventing viewers from really connecting with the characters on screen. Batman is usually one of the loneliest DC superheroes to begin with due to his tendency to avoid close relationships with others, and portrayals of his character need to balance this out with honest, human moments to allow the audience to identify with him in some way and care about what happens to him. This is especially crucial in a film like Batman v. Superman where he is the only human in a superhero trio with Superman and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot).
As much as the DCEU embraces Batman as a symbol, emphasizing how the Bat signal in the sky strikes fear into the people of Gotham, its movies need to remember that he’s still a person beneath the suit. Although Batman v. Superman had its flaws, Batman’s humanizing line was one thing it did get right. Hopefully, the future of the character will continue to preserve his humanity and limitations, no matter how many villains he defeats.