Fans were disappointed when Ben Affleck stepped down from directing the upcoming solo film for his Caped Crusader – tentatively titled The Batman – but were reassured when Affleck himself insisted he would be staying on to reprise the role. He wasn’t the only one insisting he’d be returning to play Bruce Wayne again, as both Warner Bros. Films’ studio chief, Toby Emmerich, and Matt Reeves – who’s taken over directing duties from Affleck – have also been adamant that Ben Affleck will return to reprise the role of the Dark Knight. However, it now looks like the A-List actor will be stepping away from the DCEU for good.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “a source with knowledge of the situation says that the studio is working on plans to usher out Affleck’s Batman — gracefully, addressing the change in some shape or form in one of the upcoming DC films.”
How exactly they’ll do this remains to be seen. It’s possible they may just recast Bruce Wayne and make a referential joke about how different he looks in the solo film. It’s also possible that Warner Bros. releases The Flash solo film (which has been mired in production troubles for a while now) beforehand and do a story inspired by Flashpoint, which would not only serve as the perfect excuse to recast Ben Affleck’s Batman, but also to give the other members of the Justice League more comic accurate, brighter costumes and retcon the mostly-panned look of Jared Leto’s iconic Joker. The third option is, of course, to have Bruce Wayne retire or die within in the DCEU, and put another character – such as Dick Grayson or Terry McGinnis – in the cape and cowl. (Though I find it hard to believe that, with the DC Films’ Universe just getting started, they’d want anyone else but Bruce Wayne in the costume so early on.) Then there is a fourth option – keep Ben Affleck for team-up films going forward (which would be one every few years), and have Matt Reeves do a prequel trilogy with a younger Batman who is in his prime who would eventually grow into Affleck’s Batman.
However Warner Bros. explains a new actor stepping into Batman’s boots within the film continuity, fans will no doubt be disappointed about Affleck’s departure from the role. Despite the critical and commercial reception Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice received upon its release, most people agreed that Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman was one of the highlights (along with Gal Gadot’s performance as Wonder Woman).
Digging a little deeper into the situation, however, it seems almost inevitable that Ben Affleck would want to step away from the role. He’s spent years getting people to take him seriously as a serious actor and director, and was shaken up by how badly received Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were. And though Warner Bros. seems to be on the right track in course correcting their fledgling universe, given the reception Wonder Woman has received, most people are still extremely dubious about November’s upcoming Justice League, given the fact that Snyder directed it. Plus, as was reported a few weeks ago, Matt Reeves said he has ideas for an entire Batman trilogy, which will probably take about ten years to complete. Given Affleck’s busy career – and age! – one has to wonder whether he’d really want to dedicate himself to three films, cameos in other DCEU movies, and most likely a sequel to Justice League for the next decade.
To those wary about recasting Bruce Wayne this early in the DCEU, I’d point out that recasting has worked out well for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most people prefer Mark Ruffalo’s version of Bruce Banner/the Hulk to Edward Norton’s and Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes/War Machine to Terrence Howard’s. Plus, in my mind, it’s better to recast the character now rather than midway through Reeves’ trilogy.
Of course, none of this is official yet, but as THR notes, “it would be wise to bet against Affleck starring in The Batman.” I wouldn’t expect official confirmation to come until after Justice League is released in November, to avoid a PR nightmare and rumors that the film is so bad that it forced Affleck to quit. But in the meantime, it should be fun to speculate who might possibly step into the iconic role of the World’s Greatest Detective. For me, given the fact that the Batman in the DCEU is supposed to be older, I’m pulling hard for Jon Hamm.
You can see Ben Affleck’s version of Batman at least one last time when Justice League hits theaters on November 17th.
What do you think of this news? Are you upset Affleck may not continue his stint as Batman in the DCEU? If he doesn’t, who are you hoping will take over the role? Let me know in the comments below!
In ‘Justice League’, fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
Justice League is directed by Zack Snyder, from a screenplay by Chris Terrio, and features an ensemble cast that includes Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Ciarán Hinds, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons and Jesse Eisenberg. It hits theaters November 17th.