Even before ‘Justice League’, Ben Affleck’s future as Batman was in doubt. Though he was signed for the part with much fanfare back in 2013, it’s been a steady trip downhill from there. Despite being generally regarded as one of the best parts of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ (faint praise, and yet it thunders), Affleck’s enthusiasm for the part seemed to wane almost immediately following that film’s release. Since then, he has reprised the role twice, first for a cameo in ‘Suicide Squad’ and then, of course, in ‘Justice League’. All the while, both Affleck and the DCEU have been dogged by rumors of the actor’s imminent departure.
This waning enthusiasm has been most visible, however, with regard to ‘The Batman’, the planned DCEU solo film featuring the Dark Knight. At the outset, Affleck was on board to write, direct, and star in the film. Obviously, that didn’t last. In January 2017, Affleck remarked that the film did not yet have “set script,” and by the end of the month had stepped down as director, with Matt Reeves taking his place within a month. At the same time, it became clear that current drafts of the screenplay were being written based on Affleck’s original script. With Affleck’s role in the production now reduced to “merely” starring in the film, rumors of his impending departure continued to swirl over the next several months, seemingly culminating at San Diego Comic Con, at which Affleck – though stopping short of a firm denial – made a point of emphasizing how “thrilled” he is to play Batman as well as his excitement at the prospect of working with Matt Reeves.
While Affleck’s remarks at SDCC seemed to calm the rumors for a time, they’ve picked up new momentum over the last month or so. Days ahead of the release of ‘Justice League’ rumors surfaced that Reeves was eyeing Jake Gyllenhaal for the role, should Affleck drop out. And then ‘Justice League’ arrived to critical disappointment and audience indifference. Now, in an article dealing with Warner’s reorganizing of DC Films following the ‘Justice League’ disappointment, Variety is treating Affleck’s exit as less a question of “if” than “when”. To wit:
While Ben Affleck is expected to appear as Batman in a standalone Flash movie, it is highly unlikely that he will don the cape and cowl in Matt Reeves’ planned standalone Batman movie. The director is said to want to cast the role with fresh talent, according to sources.
It’s worth pointing out that this is not an official announcement, nor is it accompanied by a comment from Warner, Affleck, or a representative of either party. That being said, Variety is not exactly in the habit of printing rumors or idle speculation, particularly in this context. Even if no decision has been made, it’s pretty clear which way the wind is blowing.
Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on the future of Warner’s DC films as it becomes available. Their latest effort, ‘Justice League’, is now playing in theaters. The would-be flagship of the DC Extended Universe, which was directed by Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon, features returning stars Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, and Amy Adams alongside a slate of newcomers that includes Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Amber Heard, Ciaran Hinds, and J.K. Simmons.