Aquaman 2: What Does Ben Affleck's Batman Return Mean For the Snyderverse?

The live-action DC multiverse is continuing to evolve at a surprising rate, with canon and characters being subverted at a number of turns. The latest update in the franchise arrived on Thursday, with Aquaman star Jason Momoa confirming via social media that Ben Affleck will be reprising his role as Bruce Wayne / Batman in Aquaman and the Lost KingdomThe news quickly sent parts of the DC fandom into a frenzy, especially those who have been wondering if Affleck could still have a long-term future in the role, after most recently reprising the part in Zack Snyder's Justice League last year. Since the "Snyder Cut's" debut, campaigns have ramped up to see more of Snyder's previously-hinted continuity onscreen, including a potential solo project starring Affleck's Batman. So, what could this Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom cameo mean for that going forward?

For starters, it's no secret that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will not be Affleck's last time putting on the cowl — it was already confirmed that he will be reprising his role as Batman in the upcoming The Flash movie, which is poised to debut next summer. While many fans had worried that Affleck might not return to the role after Justice League, he has openly expressed how The Flash enticed him to join the project, with the actor reportedly even making tweaks to the script in his favor. But we already know that Affleck will not be the only Batman actor in that movie, with Michael Keaton expected to reprise his earlier role as the caped crusader within The Flash, as well as the subsequently-released Batgirl movie. With The Flash expected to deal with multiverse shenanigans that will reportedly "reset" the DC films universe, many had assumed that the movie could end up being Affleck's finale as the character, before the proverbial baton gets passed to Keaton. For those who have been campaigning to see the "Snyderverse" realized onscreen, that idea has been controversial, as Affleck potentially being written out as the main universe's Batman would provide another hurdle in front of seeing Snyder and co.'s original plans onscreen.

So, does Affleck's Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom cameo help the cause, and potentially hint that we could hypothetically see his Batman could further pop up in the future post-The Flash? Obviously, there's no telling what the future holds — but his surprise involvement in the film could ultimately end up being a matter of DC's release schedule, if anything. DC's upcoming slate of films was rearranged earlier this year to account for VFX delays, with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom now arriving several months before The Flash, as opposed to the previously-planned several months later. Because of that, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — and Affleck's cameo in it — will now presumably be set before the events of The Flash. There's always a chance that the narrative of The Lost Kingdom already involved a Batman in some way, and that Affleck's version would just make more sense for the current DC narrative, as opposed to Keaton. There's also a chance that the post-credits scene was added as a way to promote connectivity between The Lost Kingdom and The Flash, not unlike countless other comic book movie scenes teeing up whatever the next big thing is.

As far as the Snyderverse itself — while Affleck's appearance in The Lost Kingdom further showcases the portrayals of characters that Snyder introduced, it remains to be seen if this could mean anything more beyond that. DC Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Jim Lee recently said that "there are no plans" to continue Snyder's ideas following the Snyder Cut's release, and some other actors that the director cast will seemingly not be part of DC's big-screen future going forward. At the moment, even DC's newly-minted parent company of Warner Bros. Discovery seems unclear about the franchise's long-term future, with reports indicating that they are unsure about continuing a connected universe of continuity, or just focusing on standalone films. So depending on how that mindset shakes out — and how The Lost Kingdom and The Flash are ultimately received — we'll have to wait and see if and how the elements of the Snyderverse end up continuing.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is currently scheduled to be released in theaters on March 17, 2023.