Ben Affleck will not return for The Batman solo movie, and it's now on track to be a smaller detective story
After nearly two years of speculation, it's official: Ben Affleck will not return as Bruce Wayne in the next Batman movie for Warner Bros. Instead, the Matt Reeves-directed project, tentatively titled The Batman, will seek a new Caped Crusader, and it's now finally ready to ramp up production, with a June 25th, 2021 release date now marked on the ever-expanding DCEU movie release schedule calendar.
Rumours of Affleck's departure have swirled since long before Justice League was released, kicking into particularly high gear when that film's behind-the-scenes troubles became more public. While Affleck would never publically commit to his departure, and the studio remained open to the idea of his return, this seems like it was a long time coming. Affleck was initially slated to direct The Batmanhimself, working on a script with DC's Geoff Johns, but that creative partnership never gelled, he left the director's chair, and it has been unclear ever since if he would even appear in the film. Well, now we know, and his apparently final departure from the batcave was confirmed by Variety.
It's a shame, as despite the public backlash against his initial casting (not to mention the critical response to Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice), Affleck made for a convincing Batman and Bruce Wayne, with his lantern jaw recalling a Bruce Timm drawing come to life. He even got into impressive physical shape for the role.
Director Matt Reeves spoke to THR about his plans for the project, noting that The Batman might not even be the film's final title. But it sounds like this will be a different kind of Batman movie than the earth-shaking blockbusters the character has become known for. "It's very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale," Reeves said. "It's told very squarely on his shoulders, and I hope it's going to be a story that will be thrilling but also emotional."
But perhaps more encouraging for fans of the character, he says that this one is "more Batman in his detective mode than we've seen in the films...He's supposed to be the world's greatest detective, and that's not necessarily been a part of what the movies have been. I'd love this to be one where when we go on that journey of tracking down the criminals and trying to solve a crime, it's going to allow his character to have an arc so that he can go through a transformation."
And while Reeves won't confirm which villains will be in the film, it does sound like it will be villains plural, as he promises a "Rogues Gallery" will appear. Josh Gad has spent the last year or so teasing fans that he may be in line to play the Penguin in the film, so perhaps he's one of the baddies on the way. With casting set to "begin shortly" according to Reeves, expect announcements to start coming soon, particularly about who will wear the cowl this time around. Variety says it hasn't been determined what age range they'll be casting for, as there has been speculation this will be a prequel, focusing on a younger Dark Knight than the older, experienced version Affleck portrayed.
Oscar Isaac as Bruce Wayne, anybody?