It's been a yuge day for Batman movie news, as we got several big announcements in the development of the DC Extended Universe Batman franchise. First, we learned that War of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves is indeed directing (and producing) The Batman; not long after that, we learned that DC and Warner Bros. are also planning a Nightwing spinoff movie, which will be directed by LEGO Batman's Chris McKay.
There's one big question looming in all these recent Batman movie announcements, however: Is Ben Affleck's Batman Being Replaced By DCEU Nightwing?
Rumors Have Hinted As Much
It's no secret that, in the last month alone, Ben Affleck's future in the DC Extended Universe has become much more uncertain. Late last year, it seemed Affleck was poised for a great 2017, kicking off the year with an awards contender film (Live By Night), leading Justice League to success, and jumping into The Batman.
However, Live By Night bombed, Affleck has since walked back from his DCEU commitments to The Batman, and many have noted his seeming growing frustration with the constant questions and speculation about the role. There's been growing whisper that the actor could be looking for a way out of the DCEU.
With the announcement that Nightwing exists in the DCEU, speculation is naturally turning toward the idea that Affleck has found a pathway out. As our own Lucas Siegel has already pointed out, Ben Affleck's name wasn't even mentioned in The Batman director announcement. Is that a sign of more big news to come?
It Makes Sense for the DCEU
While many fans loved Ben Affleck's Batma (us included), there have been noted criticisms about the character's darker and more brutal depiction in Batman v Superman. Director Zack Snyder very purposefully gave the DCEU an older, veteran, Batman who made cynical from age and fatigue; fans have been waiting for that Batman to get some kind of redemptive arc, which softens him into a more heroic-minded DCEU figure. But maybe it's better if the old dog simply retires.
Ben Affleck's Batman is an older guy now trying to keep up in a Justice League world, and he's been jaded by all the years facing down evil. It would make total sense why, after the epic fight in the Justice League movies, Affleck's Caped Crusader would pass his mantle on to his original protegé, Dick Grayson (voluntarily or post-mortem). That would give the DCEU a younger, more athletic Batman, whose outlook would be more positive and team-oriented than Bruce's.
There's Comic Book Precedent For It
The DCEU could legit easily retire Bruce Wayne's Batman and elicit Dick Grayson's Nightwing/Batman to fill the void, as there is a lot of comic book precedent to help them do it.
- Dick Grayson become Batman in the late 2000s, following the death of Bruce Wayne.
- Bruce Wayne seemingly died during Final Crisis when he was blasted by Darkseid's Omega Beams; Darkseid is the rumored big villain of the Justice League films
- The DCEU backstory of Batman, Robin II (Jason Todd) and The Joker leaves plenty of room for comic book stories like "Under the Red Hood" to be adapted for The Batman. A story about Batman's sins coming back to haunt him could also end in his voluntary retirement (rather than death).
A Grand Exit
Let's just connect a few dots here:
- We know Superman will return in Justice League.
- Those films will therefore need some other big Avengers-style death to hang drama on.
- Batman has already died in the fight against Darkseid in the comics.
- Those ominous Knightmares in BvS are foreshadowing to consider.
- Affleck seems tired of his DCEU commitments.
- We're hearing Batman movie announcements without Affleck's name mentioned.
- Now a DCEU Nightwing is being fast-tracked, including a major solo movie to establish the character.
Any DC Comics reader would look at all this and be totally in the right for at least speculating that the dominoes are being lined up for Ben Affleck's Batman to have a grand death or retirement in the DCEU. That Batman and Nightwing movies would then presumably involve Dick Grayson's struggle to take up the Batman mantle.
That's just guesswork, though. What do you see as the future of the Batman franchise in the DCEU? Will Affleck's Batman die? Retire? Stick around and fight alongside Nightwing and the rest of the Batman family? Let us know YOUR theories on Twitter @ComicbookNow!
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