Very minor “Justice League” spoilers below.
Will Ben Affleck continue to play Batman or won’t he? The actor’s future as the Caped Crusader has been a topic of discussion ever since rumors broke in July that he would step down from the role following his appearance in “Justice League.” Affleck has played Bruce Wayne/Batman twice, with his first appearance taking place in the much maligned “Batman v Superman.”
The first reports in July said Warner Bros. was figuring out a way to write Affleck’s iteration of the character out. The actor was originally slated to direct the movie, currently titled “The Batman,” but was taken off and replaced by “War of the Planet of the Apes” director Matt Reeves so that Affleck could focus solely on the character. Affleck’s script was also dropped.
Reeves is said to be realizing “The Batman” as the first film in a new trilogy, which is reportedly one of the reasons Affleck wants to step down. However, the actor denied the rumors during an appearance at Comic-Con over the summer in promotion of “Justice League.”
“Let me be clear. I’m the luckiest guy. Batman is the coolest fucking part in any universe, DC, Marvel,” said Affleck. “I’m so excited to do it. I think there’s this misconception that because I’m not directing it I’m not doing it, but I’m so excited to be Batman.”
The months since have provided no real clarity as to Affleck’s future in the DCEU, and two conflicting reports have emerged this week that only deepen the mystery. In the latest episode of his podcast, Collider’s John Campea revealed that a Hollywood producer told him that Reeves is setting up “The Batman” with a different actor in mind for the lead role.
“I’m hesitant to say anything, but I talked to a Hollywood producer yesterday who told me who Matt Reeves wants as Batman. And, I’ll be honest with you, the name they [gave] me caught me a little bit by surprise,” Campea revealed. “I called somebody else later in the day, saying, ‘Hey, I heard this, is there any validity to this?’ And they said, ‘Well, Matt does want him.’”
The actor in question is Jake Gyllenhaal. Campea says a deal with Gyllenhaal is far from done, but that his casting as Batman is being discussed by Warner Bros. Per Campea’s source, Affleck has already finalized his decision to leave the DCEU. The actor himself made his future as Batman questionable just this week when he told USA Today that he can’t play the character the forever.
“[Matt Reeves’ Batman] is something I’m contemplating…you don’t do it forever, so I want to find a graceful and cool way to segue out of it,” he said.
On the contrary, “Justice League” producer Charles Roven told Comic Book Resources on the red carpet of the superhero tentpole that Affleck remains committed to “The Batman” and that the actor and Reeves are working on the movie closely together. “I’m not producing that movie. Matt Reeves is working on that, but I do work with Ben, so I know that he’s certainly planning on starring in that film,” Roven said.
Raven probably knows best here, and his comment that Affleck is planning on starring in Reeves’ movie lines up with the events of “Justice League.” Nothing in Zack Snyder’s blockbuster suggests that future films would not star Ben Affleck. “Justice League” ends with Affleck’s Batman fully intact and set to appear in “The Batman.”
The middle ground answer to the question of Affleck’s future with the franchise is that “The Batman” is being set up as a transition film. Affleck will appear as the character and somehow by the end of the movie another actor (perhaps Gyllenhaal) will be the Caped Crusader and then play him in future DCEU movies.