ben affleck batman

Here we go again.

For nearly a year, rumors have been swirling that Ben Affleck is not long for the DC Extended Universe. First gaining traction in the wake of Affleck stepping down from the director’s chair of ‘The Batman’ (the solo Bat-film that Affleck was originally slated write, direct, and star in), the rumors hit a fever pitch ahead of this summer’s San Diego Comic-Con. At that convention, Affleck made a point of mentioning how “thrilled” he is to play Batman and emphasized his excitement at the prospect of working with director Matt Reeves, who has since taken the helm of ‘The Batman’. However, it didn’t escape fans’ notice that he stopped short of issuing a firm denial.

Now, with the release of ‘Justice League’ mere days away, Affleck has once again stoked the fires of this particular rumor. In an interview with USA Today, Affleck acknowledged that his departure from the role is “something I’m contemplating,” adding that “You don’t do it forever, so I want to find a graceful and cool way to segue out of it.” Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s planning to leave soon, but the bottom line is that after two appearances as Batman in as many years (three with his ‘Suicide Squad’ cameo), he is already eyeing the exits.

While Affleck’s discontent seems to have its most direct roots in the turbulent production of ‘The Batman’, one wonders if it’s not more connected to the critical shellacking that ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ took. While Affleck’s Batman was consistently praised as one of that film’s highlights, it was in the wake of that film’s release that the “Sad Affleck” meme went viral and reports of trouble on ‘The Batman’ began to surface. With a one-two punch like that, it would certainly be understandable if his enthusiasm began to wane (especially given his somewhat lackluster history with superhero films).

If that is the case, perhaps the reception of ‘Justice League’ will be the deciding factor. Or perhaps, as the rumor mill would have you believe, the wheels are already in motion to allow him to exit in the wake of the Flash’s solo film. That project, dubbed ‘Flashpoint’, is apparently based on the reality-altering comic book storyline of the same name and is widely believed to be intended as a vehicle for the DC films to course correct after their earlier missteps. Of course, this is all speculation and time, as ever, will tell.

Directed by Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon, ‘Justice League’ will serve as the flagship entry in DC’s burgeoning cinematic universe. The film will feature returning stars Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, and Jesse Eisenberg alongside a slate of newcomers that includes Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amber Heard, Ciaran Hinds, and J.K. Simmons. The film will arrive in theaters on November 17, 2017.