Ben Affleck just started playing Batman two years ago, but it seems he’s just about ready to retire as the character. Over the past few months, the evidence that Affleck won’t be Batman for much longer has piled up. Now, it’s been all but confirmed that Justice League will have been his final time depicting the Caped Crusader.
So what has been the evidence that Affleck is ready to stop playing Batman? Here’s what you need to know.
1. He was reportedly very unhappy with Batman v. Superman
Affleck made his debut as Batman in 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. This film was one of the worst-reviewed movies of that year, receiving a dismal Rotten Tomatoes score of 27%.
Apparently, Affleck really took this to heart, having previously been mocked for starring in an awful comic book film, Daredevil. Birth Movies Death reported at the time, “My sources have told me that Affleck was incredibly unhappy about the reception of BvS. He felt humiliated after spending so much of the press tour saying how much better this film would be than Daredevil.”
Affleck also did not seem particularly happy in interviews promoting the film. In one, he looks downright crestfallen as a critic describes the movie’s poor reviews. This video racked up nearly two million views on YouTube and spawned a meme known as “Sad Affleck.”
2. He was supposed to direct a Batman movie, but quit the project
Before Batman v. Superman even came out, it was reported that Affleck would be writing and directing his own Batman movie. This was confirmed in April 2016. The film was to be called The Batman.
But in December 2016, Affleck said that it wasn’t a sure thing that he would direct The Batman. According to ScreenCrush, Affleck said at the time that he wouldn’t be directing the movie unless the script was really great. He explained, “I’m still working on the script. I’m not going to write and direct anything that I don’t think is good enough to be made. I’m definitely going to make sure I have something that is special — there’s not enough money in the world to make a mediocre version of Batman worth it.”
Coincidentally, a few weeks after Affleck said he wouldn’t direct The Batman if the script was bad, it was announced that Affleck would not direct The Batman. Variety reported in January 2017 that Affleck was dropping out of his directorial duties.
3. A new director was hired, and it was rumored Affleck wouldn’t star as Batman anymore
Warner Bros. subsequently hired a different director, Matt Reeves, for The Batman. Reeves then threw out Affleck’s entire script and started from scratch.
Additionally, fans took note of the fact that the press release announcing Reeves as director of The Batman suspiciously didn’t make mention of Affleck at all. It didn’t even say whether he’d still star in the movie.
Reeves later said that he had “every expectation” that Affleck would star in the movie, which didn’t exactly make it sound like a guarantee.
4. In July, a report suggested Affleck would quit playing Batman soon
So between Affleck looking miserable during the promotion of Batman v. Superman, dropping out of directing a Batman movie, having his script thrown out, and not being mentioned in a Warner Bros. press release for The Batman, speculation ran rampant that he might be out as the character. That was mainly just speculation, but then in July 2017, The Hollywood Reporter came out with a bombshell article suggesting Justice League could be Affleck’s final DC film.
The report stated, “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.”
The Hollywood Reporter didn’t specify when Affleck would drop out, but they suggested it’s very unlikely he’ll end up being in The Batman.
5. Affleck initially denied this report of him leaving the DC universe
The Hollywood Reporter dropped their report of Ben Affleck quitting Batman right before Comic-Con, which created an awkward situation for Affleck. After all, if that report was true, it’s probably not something he’d want to announce while trying to gin up excitement for Justice League.
Affleck denied the report at Comic-Con, saying he loves playing Batman and is excited to work with Reeves. He said:
I am the luckiest guy in the world. Batman is the coolest f*cking part in any universe. It’s f*cking amazing and I still can’t believe it after two films … And Matt Reeves doing it, I would be an ape on the ground for Matt Reeves. And I think you’ll see why I’m so excited to be Batman.
But The Hollywood Reporter is one of the most accurate sources of movie news out there, and two months later, they doubled down on their initial reporting, saying in a separate article on DC, “Reeves is developing a Batman stand-alone that, according to sources, will not star Ben Affleck.”
6. Affleck suggests he’s looking for a ‘graceful’ exit
After denying that he would be quitting the role of Batman anytime soon, Affleck revealed during the promotion of Justice League that he’s looking for a graceful exit. He told USA Today, “You don’t do it forever, so I want to find a graceful and cool way to segue out of it.”
Considering Affleck had only played Batman twice by this point (or three, counting Suicide Squad), that was a surprising thing to hear. For some perspective, Robert Downey Jr. has now played Tony Stark in eight movies over the course of nine years. But Affleck’s comments were especially surprising to hear after all of the rumors that he was looking to leave the DC universe. Affleck even used the same word, “graceful,” which was exactly what was used in The Hollywood Reporter’s initial article.
In addition, Affleck in this interview seemed a lot less certain that he’d be in The Batman. Though he was once very clear that he would definitely be in it, he told USA Today that the Reeves movie is “something I’m contemplating.”
Plus, in another interview to promote Justice League, Affleck was asked by an interviewer if he’s going to play Batman at least five times. Affleck said, “I don’t know about that. We’ll see what the future holds.”
They were counting Suicide Squad as a Batman appearance in this interview, meaning Affleck is suggesting he might only be Batman one more time after Justice League. If he played Batman at least twice after Justice League, that would bring him to five. This obviously implies he won’t be in the Reeves movie since that’s being planned as a trilogy.
7. He could be ushered out in Flashpoint
So how might Ben Affleck’s Batman be ushered out of the DC universe? There are several options. It’s been established that Affleck’s version of the character is growing too old for crime-fighting, so he could simply retire in a future movie, passing the torch to someone else. He could also potentially be killed off, with another character taking over as Batman.
But the most common theory about how this will be handled concerns a storyline called Flashpoint. In the comics, this 2011 arc involved the Flash going back in time and messing with events in a way that accidentally alters the course of the DC universe.
In the new timeline created by the Flash, Batman is not Bruce Wayne. Instead, it’s his father, Thomas Wayne. It’s revealed that in this version of history, Bruce Wayne was the one who was killed by a burglar, not Thomas Wayne, and so Thomas takes up the life of vigilantism. By the end of the comic, Bruce Wayne is back to being Batman, though.
Warner Bros. has already confirmed that they’re working on a Flashpoint movie. So if they wanted to usher out Affleck’s Batman, they could do a version of this storyline in which Batman is permanently changed into someone else. In Batman v. Superman, Thomas Wayne was played by The Walking Dead‘s Jeffrey Dean Morgan, so he could potentially replace Affleck. If not, DC could alter the Flashpoint storyline a bit, but still use the same idea of someone other than Bruce Wayne becoming Batman due to the Flash’s antics.
Flashpoint does not currently have a release date. But DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns has suggested that Batman will be in it. He didn’t confirm whether Affleck will be in it, though.
8. The new Batman movie will reportedly focus on a younger version of the character
It might not be Morgan who replaces Affleck, though. First, Collider reported in November that Reeves met with Jake Gyllenhaal about the possibility of him replacing Affleck as Batman. Gyllenhaal actually auditioned to play Batman in Batman Begins about 15 years ago.
Then in June, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that The Batman will reportedly follow a young Bruce Wayne rather than Affleck’s middle-aged version of the character. All of this signals that it’s extremely likely that Affleck won’t play Batman for much longer, if at all, after the colossal failure of Justice League. It’s just a matter of how and when he’s ushered out.
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