It was only a matter of time before it became official – Ben Affleck is no longer the Dark Knight. The news about Matt Reeve’s The Batman set for a June 2021 release without Ben Affleck putting on the mask for the fourth time is a topic for debate among fans as well as haters. Whatever may be the reason – a younger Batman storyline or differences with the studio or even the underperformance of all three films starring Ben Affleck as Batman – I’m a little disappointed as I honestly feel that he had a lot more left in his tank, but sadly that’s the end of it.
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) January 31, 2019
Naturally, there’s a whole lot of speculation hovering around – who should replace Ben Affleck? How does a new Batman fit into the DCU? There are a lot of other theories from experts and fans all over the world. Here’s a little reminder, Marvel has already replaced few prominent actors in their cinematic universe, notably Mark Ruffalo replacing Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/Hulk, Don Cheadle replacing Terrence Howard as James Rhodes/War Machine, Zachary Levi replacing Josh Dallas as Fandral, Josh Brolin replacing Damian Portier as Thanos and The Walking Dead’s Ross Marquand replacing Hugo Weaving as Red Skull along with a few minor replacements that no one seemed to bother.
So, as long as the new Batman is properly introduced into the DCU, I don’t think anyone’s going to make a big fuzz about it. Oh! By the way, we still don’t know who is going to be Superman. I’ll leave that for another time I suppose.
I’m not going to share any proficient theories or speculate the future of Batman in the DCU based on the numerous articles and videos that have flooded my Facebook and Instagram page. I’ll try to look at the whole chapter from my perspective and what I think could have been the reason for this entire episode.
Into the Snyder Verse
Ben Affleck’s casting as Batman was primarily a part of Zack Snyder’s vision for a DC universe with an original plan for a five-movie arc that suffered an early abortion by studio executives. All of us are aware of the endless conflict between Snyder and WB executives. The result was an epidemic entitled ‘Josstice League’. Honestly, it was not a terrible film but light years away from the ultimate Justice League film that fans had desired for so long. On the hindsight, fans and critics have highly praised Affleck’s performance as Batman, as he brought a new shade to the character that his predecessors didn’t portray on screen – a Batman filled with rage. Despite his strong performances in Batman V Superman, a cameo in Suicide Squad, and finally Justice League (the worst of the lot), all of these films received a lot of negative reviews and also underperformed at the box office.
So, WB executives pulled the plugs, and Zack Snyder was unofficially fired during Justice League’s post-production and after the film’s failure, the real problem started. Batman V Superman was one of the best superhero films, if not the greatest – I just wanted to get that off my chest!
I am Batman or Am I, Batman?
Shortly after the extremely positive reception and critical acclaim of Ben Affleck’s portrayal of The Dark Knight in Batman V Superman, in spite of the film’s negative critical response, an average business at the box office, Warner Brothers spent no time in announcing a solo Batman film written and directed by Ben Affleck himself, and the whole world was happy. Cut to Suicide Squad and Justice League – two highly anticipated DCU films that didn’t too well at the box office or with the critics. As a result, the headlines started to change – Ben Affleck will not direct the solo Batman film but will be attached to the project as a producer. After a while, the headlines further changed to speculation about Ben Affleck possibly leaving the DCU, and that went on for a while especially due to massive shake in the originally announced DCU roster. With no official announcement regarding the solo Batman film and with Henry Cavil’s exit from the DCU, it was simply a matter of time before we heard the news. It’s still not clear whether Affleck will continue to serve as the producer or not in the new film.
It wasn’t Damon, but it was still Matt!
In a major announcement by DC’s un-cinematic universe, Matt Reeves, director of films such as War for the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Cloverfield, board the DCU ship as the Director of The Batman. But hang on, it wasn’t an easy road for him either as rumors started to dwell about his potential exit from the project due to excessive delay, or who knows someone at Warner Brothers didn’t like the way he drank coffee – maybe? Matt Reeves, however, never made any official statement of falling out with the studio. What followed next was a longer wait than the eighth season of Games Of Thrones, filled with rumors and speculations. News about Ben Affleck’s rehabilitation also surfaced in the meanwhile, so no-one had any ideas about the future of the Batman film, but one thing was almost certain that unlike Ben’s best buddy Matt, the other Matt wasn’t too keen to work with him (that’s just my take as he could have easily convinced the makers to keep him intact to the project).
Will Uncle Ben Return As The Bat?
One of the biggest mysteries that Batman has to solve right now is how does his newer version fit into the DCU? Matt Reeves has proclaimed that his story will focus on a younger version of The Dark Knight exploring his early years with a noir tone unveiling the detective side of the world’s most famous detective. Sounds promising to me! This kind of implies that the film will be essentially a prequel before the events of Batman V Superman, which featured an aging Batman drained by his crime-fighting life, and rage was the only quotient that kept him going. So, we could possibly witness a film or films in an alternate timeline like Wonder Woman, or something similar to the current X-Men universe. With Shazam being the only film in the current timeline and possibly Suicide Squad 2, there is a faint possibility, if not impractical that in the future Ben Affleck might return as The Batman in the current DCU timeline as an older version of the character. Although it might seem a little absurd, something like Ryan Reynolds returning as Green Lantern, I’ll keep my hopes alive. And by the way, if Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Harrison Ford can all reprise their roles, why can’t Uncle Ben. On the contrary, if Ben Affleck’s successor does an equally brilliant job, then I don’t think fans or even I will complain if he becomes a part of the current timeline.
Will Batman Meet The Joker?
Even though it is confirmed that the new Batman film will be a part of DCU, but one cannot simply disregard that fact that we are going to witness a new Joker film starring Joaquin Phoenix as the crazy clown, which is considered to be a part of DC’s Standalone Universe that will feature standalone films, which are outside the DCU. The film, titled Joker, will also be an origin story about Batman’s arch nemesis. Remember that we also have a different Joker in the DCU played by Jared Leto, which hasn’t worked too well with the fans either. So, maybe, just maybe there is that faint chance that WB might develop a separate Batman universe, but to be honest, there is a faint possibility that it will ever happen, but if it does – I won’t be surprised.
Fans And Fan Theories
A lot of fans, potentially Marvel, hated Ben Affleck’s portrayal of The Batman, some are even relieved that he has been removed from the role, but I am one of those fans who is a bit disappointed, after all it wasn’t Affleck but studio executives who ruined the whole Batman thing, and possibly Deathstroke. As usual, there’s a lot of speculation about who is going to replace Affleck that even includes Priyanka Bhabi’s husband in the fold, may God forgive the sinners! Some fans are also coming up with their unapproved scripts on how a new Batman can fit into the DCU, but I guess I’ll leave it to the Time Masters.
[bctt tweet=”There’s a lot of speculation about who is going to replace #BenAffleck that even includes #Priyanka Bhabi’s husband in the fold, may God forgive the sinners!” username=”SMomus”]
Aquaman was a huge success for both DC and WB, thanks to Mr. Wan, but I’m not too happy about DCU’s slate of future films – a topic I’ll leave for another time. So, I hope replacing Ben Affleck doesn’t prove costly to the future of DCU, and if it does, then only Barry Allen can save us all. Flashpoint Paradox!