The Batman is a project which has perhaps been in conversation the most ever since it was announced. With the current state of the DC Films Universe, it’s hard to say which movies we’ll be getting in the next few years. While Aquaman and Shazam look great, and there’s potential in Wonder Woman 1984, not much else is known about their plans for this franchise.

Batman is arguably DC’s most bankable character. The Dark Knight trilogy made over $1 billion at the domestic box office, and people flocked to the theaters to watch the character battle it out with Supes in Batman V Superman. So it’s not hard to imagine that Warner Bros. must be scrambling to get another Batman movie out, right? Well, it’s complicated.

Ben Affleck as Batman in Justice League
Batman in Justice League

If you don’t know, The Batman is a project which has been in development ever since 2016’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice came out. Shortly after that film came out, it was revealed that Affleck himself would direct and star in the solo film. However, the troubled production of Justice League, coupled with the critical failure of both these movies may have had a hand in changing his mind.

Around the time of the team-up film’s release, rumors started flying around that Affleck may have been looking for a quiet exit from the franchise. The first wave started when it was announced that he would, in fact, be stepping down from directing the film. After months of wait, Warner Bros. finally found up and coming director Matt Reeves to take the helms. The problem is, that announcement was made over a year ago. And we still haven’t heard a single new development about the project.

Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne in Justice League
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne in Justice League

Over the year there’s been a lot of back and forth on whether Affleck will still be involved. In any capacity. The actor still has one more appearance signed for in his contract, so we’ll see him suit up sooner or later. The question is, how soon or how late? Currently, the film is scheduled to go on floors next year, targeting a 2020 release date. While that’s all fine, it’s been reported that Reeves is planning to make a prequel, focusing on the earlier years of Batman’s crime-fighting career. All this comes from the director’s comments as well as rumors about him finding an actor more befitting of the role and age that he’s planned.

So, how do you include Ben Affleck in a prequel/soft-reboot? Well, the easiest solution would be to have him narrate the story. It’s not hard to imagine an older Bruce Wayne reminiscing on about his early days. Or rather, brooding. This way you can include both Affleck and a younger actor to play the role, and everybody’s happy, right? Well, as all things are in this business, not really. Having a big star like Affleck only to include him in a couple scenes would not only do injustice (no pun intended) for the character, it’ll also look bad for business. Not to mention, the marketing team would be under heavy pressure, for obvious reasons.

Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne
Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne

Another possibility was to have him retire in the upcoming Flashpoint. As fans of the comics would know, at the end of that story, Barry Allen returns to a new reality where things are pretty different from the one he left at the start. As far as we know, Warner Bros. was actually planning to use the Flash solo movie to soft reboot the whole franchise. But with the hiring of Walter Hamada as the chief overseer at DC films division, that plan has seemingly been canceled. It is believed that WB’s current strategy is to focus on one film at a time, given the recently rebranded “Worlds of DC” title that they’re using to define their cinematic universe.

In either case, it’s clear that Affleck’s time as the Dark Knight of Gotham is coming to an end. Whether the studio will renegotiate to bring him back for more, only time will tell. At the moment though, fans can only hope for the actor’s return as the caped crusader.

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