Ben Affleck as Batman: Fans dissect first photograph

image copyrightZack Snyder / Twitter
image captionAffleck's debut as Batman comes in a currently-untitled Superman sequel, due in 2016

The first photo of Ben Affleck in character as Batman has been revealed by director Zack Snyder.

He is pictured standing next to the Batmobile in the brooding black-and-white shot, taken on set of the forthcoming Superman vs Batman film.

Although the actor was a controversial choice to play the caped crusader, the new photo has had a positive reception.

Many have suggested it shows the older Batman from Frank Miller's four-part comic book The Dark Knight Returns.

The 1986 series "depicted an aged Bruce Wayne at the end of his career," said Bryan Bishop on The Verge.

"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."

image copyrightMichael Wilkinson
image captionCostume designer Michael Wilkinson posted a close-up of Affleck on his Twitter account

Affleck displays "serious muscle definition" and "throbbing veins" in the photo, said Rolling Stone magazine's Jon Blistein.

The smoke-filled shot suggests the character will continue to be the "brooding Batman we've come to know and love" from Christopher Nolan's tortured Dark Knight trilogy, he added.

Designed by Michael Wilkinson (300, Watchmen) the new Batsuit is "more sculpted and comic-book-like than the armour-plated version worn by Christian Bale" in those movies, noted Matt McDaniel on Yahoo Movies.

"The suit hearkens back to Michael Keaton's, with its chiselled muscles and cowl attached to the cape. It also has smaller ears and a much larger bat-symbol across the chest than previous iterations.

"Affleck does, though, stand in the same clenched fist and lowered head pose favoured by Bale."

Escapist magazine's Ross Lincoln said the "rounder, old fashioned-looking cowl, and smaller ears" made Batman "appear less a demonic personification of justice and more like an actual cartoon bat."

"The Batsuit has always been a divisive feature," wrote Justin Kroll for film trade bible Variety.

"Especially since George Clooney's costume in Batman and Robin, which came complete with the now-infamous 'Batnipples,' gave fans an advanced warning that the Joel Schumacher production might be troubled."

It also ran a readers' poll, which saw 56% of fans approving the new-look Batman.

'Just noise'

Affleck was not a universally popular choice to take over from Christian Bale.

A petition on urging film studio Warner Bros to "remove Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne in the Superman/Batman movie" has gathered more than 97,000 signatures since his casting was announced last summer.

But he has laughed off the criticism, saying he is "a big boy" who can "handle" the backlash.

image copyrightZack Snyder / Twitter
image captionSnyder shared another picture of the Batmobile, suggesting more images from the set are on their way

"When you get into the arena of those kinds of movies, these superhero movies, particularly ones that are working with characters that everyone's known for so long, everybody's got these strongly held opinions and preconceived ideas about what it should be," he told Entertainment Weekly.

"At the same time, I don't think projections about something that hasn't happened yet are all that meaningful.

"I think at the end of the day, it's like any other movie or project: You go out and make it great, people will say it's great. If you go out and miss, you'll hear about it.

"The stuff beforehand is kind of just the noise that happens."

Affleck will make his debut alongside British actor Henry Cavill's Superman, on 6 May, 2016.

The as-yet-untitled film is a sequel to Man of Steel and will also feature Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Ray Fisher as Cyborg.

Details of the plot are a closely guarded secret, but screenwriter David Goyer told San Diego ComicCon: "We're actually not sure whether the title is Superman vs. Batman or Batman vs. Superman but yes, it's that rematch, that combination, the two guys onscreen and that's happening."

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