Breaking: Ben Affleck’s Batman Future in Doubt as Warner Bros. Plots Franchise | Redux Reports
The studio is working on plans to usher out Affleck’s Batman gracefully, a source says, addressing the change in some shape or form in one of the upcoming DC films.The studio is working on plans to usher out Affleck’s Batman gracefully, a source says, addressing the change in some shape or form in one of the upcoming DC films.Ben Affleck is heading to Comic-Con this weekend to promote Warner Bros.’ upcoming Justice League movie, set for a Nov. 17 release. But how many more times is he likely to put on the Batsuit? Probably not many, if ever again.
This news comes after the recent revelation that Ben Affleck’s script for The Batman movie was scraped by the new director, Matt Reeves.
Yes, Warners’ film studio chief Toby Emmerich tells The Hollywood Reporter, “Ben is our Batman. We love him as Batman. We want to keep him in the cowl as long as we can.” And Matt Reeves, who will direct the studio’s still-undated (and unwritten) The Batman, has said that he means to keep Affleck in the role. But 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.
Exactly when and how that might happen has yet to be determined, but 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.
Reeves also has acknowledged that he has a Batman trilogy rolling around in his head, and given his success making two-thirds of a trilogy out of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes, it seems fair to anticipate that Warners will want him to realize his vision.
In addition, Affleck will turn 45 in August, so he would be pushing 50 before The Batman arrives in theaters. If Reeves makes a trilogy, Affleck would be in his mid-50s at best by the time that’s done. Maybe Tom Cruise could pull that off, but Affleck’s body hasn’t exactly been a temple.
And while male stars have been able to stretch their action-film relevance further in an age when there are fewer bankable young stars (Robert Downey Jr. is 52 and going strong as Iron Man), studios favor the fresh-faced — look what happened with Spider-Man, successfully rebooted with 21-year-old Tom Holland. (Affleck also just dropped out of the Netflix project Triple Frontier, and it’s not clear what his next movie will be. His reps declined to comment.)
Warners could hypothetically create dual Batmen, keeping Affleck in the role for a planned Justice League follow-up, while letting Reeves cast his movie with a different star. But that hardly seems likely. The first Justice League already is at an inflection point: Director Zack Snyder has stepped away in mid-production and his successor, Joss Whedon, is said to be doing extensive reshoots. (Note that Justice League member Superman is played by Henry Cavill, 34, The Flash is Ezra Miller, 24, Aquaman is Jason Momoa, 37, and Wonder Woman is 32-year-old Gal Gadot.) And a second Justice League movie would be years down the road. THR reported Thursday that Shazam!, with a yet-to-be-cast title star, will be the next DC movie to shoot.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 3 Ways to Build a Better Black SuperheroOf course, Batman transitions have happened before. Starting in 1989, Warners has made films with Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and Affleck. As a source with ties to the situation observes, there is precedent in the Batman comics for Bruce Wayne handing off the mantle to others, and even for two different Batmen cleaning up the streets of Gotham simultaneously.
The landmark 1993 Knightfall storyline left Wayne temporarily paralyzed, leading him to appoint a vigilante called Azrael as his Batman replacement. When Azrael went rogue, Wayne came out of retirement to stop him and then swiftly retired once more, appointing Dick Grayson (AKA Robin) as the new Batman. That was so successful that when Wayne was assumed dead in 2009, Grayson took on the cowl for a second time. (Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises even went this route, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake getting the keys to the Batcave after Bale’s Bruce Wayne was presumed dead.)
In the comics, Grayson stayed on as Batman even when Wayne returned to work as The Dark Knight, with the two different Batmen splitting appearances between the various comic books. Bruce Wayne took Batman Inc. and Batman and Robin, while Grayson’s stories ran in Batman and Detective Comics. Grayson also appeared monthly in the Justice League of America series during this period, arguably making him the more high-profile of the two characters.
Warner Bros. could even go with the Batman Beyond approach. The fan-favorite animated series (1999-2001) saw an elderly Bruce Wayne train a young man called Terry McGinnis as his apprentice, with Wayne teaching him to take over the role as Batman. Of course, there’s a downside to the passing-the-torch scenarios: It’s hard to imagine fans or Reeves being excited about following someone who is not Bruce Wayne for a Batman trilogy.
About ‘The Batman’
In October 2014, Warner Bros. announced that a Batman standalone film was in development, with Affleck set to reprise the role. By July 2015, Affleck was in negotiations to also produce, direct and co-write the screenplay with Geoff Johns. In March 2016, William Morris Endeavor’s co-CEO Patrick Whitesell stated that Affleck had written a screenplay for a Batman film. In April, Warner Bros. confirmed that Affleck would direct the film. In May, Jeremy Irons confirmed that he was “tied into The Batman”, while Affleck stated that the film would borrow from the comics, but mainly be an “original story”. In August, Affleck teased Deathstroke on social media through test footage. Geoff Johns later revealed that the character will be played by Joe Manganiello. In October, Affleck stated the intended title for the film was The Batman, adding “At least that’s what we’re going with now. I might change it.” In December, Affleck confirmed that the film was on track to begin shooting in Q1/Q2 2017. Later that month, Warner Bros. executive Greg Silverman stated that the film would be released in 2018. In January 2017, in an interview with The Guardian, Affleck stated that the film does not have a set script, and that he will only direct it if he feels like it will be a great movie. Later that month, Affleck stepped down as director in order to more efficiently focus on starring as the titular role. He will continue to serve as writer, producer, and star of the film. Upon Affleck’s announcement, it was noted by Deadline that Chris Terrio had turned in a rewrite of the original script by Affleck and Johns. In February, Warner Bros. announced the title as The Batman and that Matt Reeves would direct and co-produce the film. In June, Reeves stated that the movie will focus on the detective side of the character, with a noir style that emphasizes seeing into Batman’s mind and heart for the story.
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