It's been a turbulent year for Ben Affleck and Batman. After gaining so much praise for his breakout role as DC Extended Universe Batman in Batman v Superman and (to lesser extent) Suicide Squad last year, Affleck caused major waves when he announced a few months back that he was no longer directing his Batman solo movie, The Batman. By vacating the director's chair, Affleck started a lot of chatter stating that he was unhappy with the Batman role as a whole, and was slowly looking for a way out of it.
Just before San Diego Comic-Con, a report came in that Warner Bros. was looking to replace Affleck's Batman in the DCEU. Despite Affleck going on stage in front of thousands to proclaim his love for Batman, Warner Bros. and the DCEU during the DC Films Comic-Con panel, rumor and speculation continue to swirl that he's just putting on a brave PR face until the release of Justice League this fall, before slowly making his way out the door - possibly using The Batman solo film to pass the torch to a new actor.
We can't speak to the reality of what Ben Affleck's Batman future holds, but we do know this: if DC Films is looking to indeed make a switch, then there is plenty of DC Comics precedence that can easily make that happen. Here are a couple of great ways to Replace Ben Affleck's Batman In The DCEU.
We've already broken this down in detail (see below), but Ben Affleck's Batman could receive a heroic death within the space of the two planned Justice League movies, if those films use any part of the DC Comics "Final Crisis" storyline as their basis.
Part of Final Crisis dense storyline (about alternate universe Supermen and a being trying to eat reality), is Batman's seeming death at the hands Darkseid, when the lord of the hellish planet Apokolips tried to invade Earth. Since Justice League will follow a storyline about Darkseid's general, Steppenwolf, coming to Earth with an invasion force, it's not hard to see the final battle with Darkseid himself costing Bruce Wayne/Batman his life.
Batman barely survived his superpowered encounters with Kryptonians and Doomsday, so his time in the full-fledged DCEU could easily run out. That version of his end would please DC Comics fans (they love continuity), and set the DCEU's solo Batman film up for...
In DC Comics, after Batman "died" (not really) during "Final Crisis," the heroes in his makeshift Batman family set out to replace The Dark Knight.
Problems arose when Batman's proteges and cohorts can't decide who should next wear the cowl. Nightwing/Dick Grayson, Red Hood/Jason Todd, Red Robin/Tim Drake, Robin IV/Damian Wayne and Michael Lane/Azrael are all involved with turbulent shift, until Dick Grayson finally acquiesces to Bruce Wayne's final wishes, and takes up the mantle of Batman, with Damian Wayne (Bruce's son with Talia al Ghul) serving as his Robin.
This scenario is what some fans speculate could be the basis for The Batman solo film. The idea is that the film could explore the rise of crime/supervillain threats in Gotham after Batman's absence, with 'Team Batman' having to put aside any past grudges to bring back the symbol Gotham needs. It would be a way to rapidly expand the Batman movie cinematic universe within the DCEU, and give the new Batman a proper origin story.
Sometimes, the best option is the most obvious one - and for DC Comics readers, one of the biggest stories of Bruce Wayne having to retire from active Batman duty is no doubt the '90s storyline "Knightfall."
In that story, Batman meets a new nemesis in the form of Bane, who lurks into Gotham City to covertly consolidate power as the city's new crime boss. To keep Batman off his trail, Bane blows open Arkham Asylum, flooding Gotham's streets with all of Batman's worst rogues, forcing The Dark Knight into a gauntlet of 24/7 crime fighting against a relentless horde. When Batman is worn down and haggard, Bane confronts him and beats him savagely, breaking Bruce's back and confining him to a wheelchair (for a time).
Obviously, the "Knightfall" story has been adapted to film before (The Dark Knight Rises), but the subplot of how Bruce is crippled and creates names his own replacement could be mashed together with many other scenarios (like Darkseid or Steppenwolf breaking Batman's back) to achieve the same end. A crippled Bruce could spend the runtime of The Batman training a new Batman protege, be it Dick Grayson, "Azbats" or someone else. Having Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne crippled instead of dead would free the actor from a lot of his current obligations as the character, but would keep him available for any future returns, including...
Batman fans have been calling for a movie adaptation of the Batman Beyond series for years. That franchise (which began as a '90s animated series and has since become a DC Comics title), followed a near-future in which Bruce Wayne is too old to continue being Batman, and trains a young protege to inherit the mantle - along with a hi-tech suit of Batman armor.
In the DCEU, "Batman Beyond" would be a perfect middleground that allowed for a new Batman to take up the mantle, with Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne still playing a more reserved mentor role. The version of "Beyond" Batman could be altered so that characters like Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Damian Wayne or Azrael are the inheritors of the Batman armor - or the traditional version of Terry McGinnis could be introduced.
Either way, Batman Beyond would be a good choice in that it would give the DCEU a version of Batman who could keep up with his metahuman allies in the Justice League, and any superpowered villains who come his way. Ben Affleck's Batman will get an armored upgrade for Justice League - so really this story has already been set in motion.
Finally, one easy way to handle all of this Batman mantle passing would be to once again refer back to the comics, and have Bruce Wayne fully retire from active service as Batman.
The character did so in Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" storyline - coming out of retirement when Gotham is threatened by a violent new gang called The Mutants. However, in the DCEU (which has already borrowed heavily from Miller's TDKR), maybe Bruce never comes out of retirement, acknowledging that a new world of aliens, metahumans and mythical beings needs a new breed of Batman.
That would lead things back to that aforementioned "Battle for the Cowl" storyline, with Bruce trying to straighten out his personal connections (after years of lone wolf misanthropy) in order to convince one of his estranged proteges to take up the mantle.
And, if occasion ever called for it, Affleck's Bruce Wayne could always make a triumphant return, in the full style of Frank Miller's Batman.
At Comic-Con 2017, we learned that the DCEU version of The Flash movie will be titled Flashpoint, sparking all kinds of fan speculation.
"Flashpoint" deals with Barry Allen/The Flash altering the timestream for personal gain - an action that creates a massive butterfly effect, altering the origins and character of every DC superhero. For Batman, the change is a drastic one: In Flashpoint continuity, Bruce Wayne is gunned down in an alley one dark night (pun), sending his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, down very different paths. While Martha's grief leads her to the insanity of becoming The Joker, Thomas struggles with anger over crime and injustice, becoming a brutal, gun-toting version of The Batman.
The Walking Dead stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan already play the DCEU versions of Thomas and Martha Wayne; with a little time travel twist, those Flashpoint characters could be merged with the main DCEU timeline, eliminating Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne from existence. It would be a major turn that would give fans a different onscreen version of Batman and The Joker than they've ever seen before - and for those who dislike Jared Leto's Joker, this would be a clean way to get rid of him, as well.
- New Justice League Trailer Released
- Ben Affleck Comments on Batman Departure Rumors
- Justice League SDCC Trailer Teases Green Lantern
- First Aquaman Movie Footage Premieres at SDCC
- Wonder Woman 2 Announced at SDCC
- Flash Movie Titled Flashpoint
- Batman Movie Universe Plans Revealed
- New Justice League Poster Revealed
In Justice League, fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's (Henry Cavill) selfless act, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) enlists newfound ally Diana Prince to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes -- Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash -- it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
Justice League is directed by Zack Snyder, from a screenplay by Chris Terrio, based on a story by Snyder and Terrio, Justice League stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Ciarán Hinds, Amy Adams, Willem Dafoe, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, and J. K. Simmons.
Justice League currently has a 4.16 out of 5 ComicBook.com User Anticipation rating making it the third most anticipated upcoming comic book movie among ComicBook.com readers. Let us know how excited you are for Justice League by giving the movie your own personal ComicBook.com User Anticipation Rating below. Justice League opens in theaters on November 17, 2017.