It's no easy thing being a follower of Batman.
Week after week in the comics – where his real story unfolds – we watch Batman cope with his enemies, overcoming whatever they throw at him to emerge victorious.
The Joker, Penguin, Bane, Harvey Dent and a legion of others have all taken their best shot and been defeated by Gotham's Dark Knight.
Batman: a film history
Bale pushed the role into darker territory in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), the final instalment in Christopher Nolan's epic Batman trilogy.
But there's been one foe to plague him (and us), one villain who lands the blows that make The Bat and his fans flinch every time.
And that would be Hollywood.
Almost every time Batman winds up on screen, there's something to make the faithful cringe.
Dubious Photoshop aside, is this the scariest image you've seen today? ... Ben Affleck digitally made into Batman
First there was the camped up 1960s TV show that had the Caped Crusader and his sidekick dancing The Batusi and shouting "Holy Worthless Catchprase!" every few seconds.
Then there was "Mr Mom", aka Michael Keaton, bringing all his (insert rampant sarcasm here) prodigious action film gravitas to the first of the new Batman films.
‘‘I’m Batman!’’ he told a thug in one of the film’s first fight scenes. ‘‘No, you're Mr Mom,’’ the fans shouted back.
Next up was Val Kilmer, who tried his best but will always be remembered as the guy who had nipples added to the batsuit.
Why? Nobody knows.
The original idea of the batsuit was to provide protection and "to strike fear into the hearts of criminals".
"Now with pointy nipples" doesn't quite make sense.
He was followed by George Clooney, who turned a world-class martial artist on a one-track mission of vengeance into a Cary Grant clone prone to the same camp jokes we'd hoped were long gone.
He even carried a "BatCard" for unexpected purchases. "Never leave the cave without it!" he smirked and something inside us died.
Christian Bale gave a brief respite . . . until he ran off to live happily ever after with Catwoman.
Memo scriptwriters: Batman doesn't live happily ever after. He fights and fights and fights until he's dead. Then he fights some more.
And with Catwoman? What about Talia, the mother of his son? The same son who went on to become (arguably) the best Robin ever?
Oh that's right, that doesn't exist in a world where nipples are a valid addition to body armour.
And now we're getting Ben Affleck.
He's young at least, reasonably athletic, has played a masked vigilante before (blind lawyer turned crime fighter Matt Murdock in the 2003 film Daredevil) and has even played Superman – sort of – in the George Reeves biopic Hollywoodland. But any comfort this brings is tempered by a fear greater than anything The Scarecrow's gas ever brought, that once again Hollywood will throw a spanner in the works.
Will this next Batman have a wacky romance with Jennifer Aniston? Will he have an Argo-esque beard? Or worse, will he drag Matt Damon along as Robin?
We wait as usual with dread. And one heartfelt plea.
Lose the nipples. Please.