According to a new report from Variety, Warner Bros. is not moving forward with a Batman movie starring Ben Affleck and is actively seeking a different actor to replace the troubled star as the Dark Knight.
The studio is said to be “reevaluating its approach” to its DC Comics-inspired movies and that it will not be moving forward with Batman and Superman movies featuring Affleck and Superman star Henry Cavill.
The 46-year-old Affleck first headlined Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as a grizzled and burnt out crimefighter who found a renewed sense of hope in his encounter with Cavill’s Man of Steel, whose own exit from the franchise has been contemplated in recent weeks.
Both actors reteamed in Justice League, which proved a commercial and critical disappointment for the studio.
After three outings as Batman across a trio of critically mauled films, Affleck was most recently said to be interested in reprising the role one more time.
According to Hollywood Life, a source close to Affleck claims the star feels he “isn’t finished with what he wants to do with the character,” and his renewed interest was supposedly sparked by the intriguing approach Joaquin Phoenix is taking with the Joker in his Todd Phillips-directed origin film set outside the DC Films continuity.
Affleck, who re-entered rehab in August at the urging of ex-wife Jennifer Garner, was keeping in shape during his stay, fueling speculation he was readying for a return to the role in Matt Reeves’ The Batman or another DCEU project.
It was previously theorized by industry experts that high insurance costs would force Warner Bros. to drop Affleck as the caped crusader, who would be too expensive to insure on already-expensive productions like The Batman or a theoretical Justice League sequel.
“More than likely the studio will replace him because the insurance costs are going to go through the roof,” a representative for an undisclosed completion bond company told TheWrap in August after Affleck entered rehab.
An attorney specializing in insurance and bond products said Affleck would be bondable, but would come with a hefty deductible that would be “really high” and “probably the budget of the film.”
More recently, it was rumored 28-year-old Jack O’Connell (Unbroken, Money Monster) was being looked at for the role.
That rumor comes after a June report from The Hollywood Reporter, which claimed Reeves’ Batman script centers around a younger Bruce Wayne instead of Affleck’s middle-aged superhero, effectively precluding Affleck from starring in a significant role.
Plot details on the project remain under wraps. Reeves has only characterized his film as a noir-driven detective story not based on Batman origin tale Year One or any particular comic book story.
Warner Bros. has yet to stake a release date for The Batman.