While we await the big Marvel and DC panels at San Diego Comic-Con later today, the big news of the weekend so far has not come from official announcements – but a report in The Hollywood Reporter which claims that the future of Ben Affleck as Batman in the DCEU franchise is “in doubt”.
Their report cites an unnamed source as saying 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”. THR go so far as to say that “it would be wise to bet against Affleck starring in The Batman. He has already stepped away from directing the film and Reeves is dropping the script that Affleck wrote with D.C. Entertainment’s Geoff Johns.”
Officially, of course, Affleck has a long-term deal to appear in several Justice League and/or Batman films (exactly how many depends on which report you read). Alongside Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Henry Cavill’s Superman, he’s been made integral to the strategy that DC/Warners have for their films going forwards – after all, while there was some scepticism over his getting the part originally, it’s hard to deny that “Batfleck” was by general consensus one of the few genuinely successful elements of Batman v Superman.
And yet it’s not beyond the realm of possibility, given that we already first met his Bruce Wayne late in his career, that he could shuffle off the stage at some point – and it’s hard to shake the feeling that Affleck’s interest in the whole enterprise may have been waning ever since he lost control of the standalone The Batman film.
What could they mean by “addressing the change”, however? This would be in contrast to how Batman films have generally dealt with a change in casting – the 1990s films had three different men in the role but all were essentially playing the same character in the same continuity – but it may be the case that for the first time, we could see someone other than Bruce Wayne donning the cowl in a movie.
(The obvious candidate would seem to be Dick Grayson, but the status of Robin – or multiple Robins – in the DCEU remains unknown. Although there is purportedly a Nightwing movie of some kind in the works, so who knows. The names of other characters who’ve stepped in for Batman in comics past – notably Jean-Paul Valley and Jim Gordon – seem significantly more far-fetched than Dick, anyway.)
We may get a better idea of exactly how DC – and Affleck’s – future is shaping up after the DC panel this weekend. But one thing’s for sure – this is a rumour that’s unlikely to go away any time soon, and it’s already overshadowing anything else they might announce at this point…