Will The Flash Movie Finally Solve DC's Batman Problem?

Earlier today, news broke that Michael Keaton is in talks to reprise his role as Batman for the forthcoming The Flash movie starring Ezra Miller -- and that afterwards, Keaton could be set up to play a version of Batman who would be able to return in future films as a kind of mentor figure to younger heroes. The news has DC fans already speculating about the possibilities for such a move, whether it's a multiverse or a Batman Beyond movie. But even if the movie ends up featuring more than one Dark Knight, the question remains: will it fix the DC films' Batman problem?

The departure of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice star Ben Affleck following the failure of Justice League has created what many fans perceive as a problem for DC: with the rest of the League still happy to play their roles in future films, Affleck's disappearance will stick out like a sore thumb. That's doubly true since, of all characters, he's Batman, the superhero with arguably the best batting average in the history of solo superhero films.

Add to that the huge success of Joker, a stand-alone, Batman-themed movie set in the '80s, and the upcoming Matt Reeves film The Batman, in which Robert Pattinson is rumored to play a more or less contemporary version of Batman who is early in his career at the start of the film, rather than Affleck's experienced bruiser, and you've got a sense of real confusion about the direction of the Batman "brand" on film.

Given the time-travel/reality-warping nature of the Flashpoint comics that The Flash is reported to be based on, though, one has to wonder whether there might be an opportunity to clean things up a bit.

There are a few issues: it isn't clear whether Pattinson's Batman is meant to be tied to the shared film universe of the Justice League-affiliated movies (although it appears at this point that the answer is no), and it's not clear what the DC films will do going forward in a context where they have no Batman,since Affleck seems to have more or less completely sworn off the cape and cowl.

Affleck wasn't significantly older than most of his co-stars in the Justice League film -- at least not as much as Keaton -- but his characters was established as having been in action for years, and having gone into retirement following the death of Robin. He also served as the guiding force behind the formation of the Justice League (more so, it seems, in Zack Snyder's Justice League).

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So if the rumors of Keaton taking on a mentorship role as an aging Bruce Wayne are to be believed, it would not be difficult to imagine that the fallout from the Flashpoint crisis could just be that Batman's timeline has shifted, and now he's got the history of Michael Keaton's Batman behind him and an extra few years (and maybe not so much crazy).

That would not necessarily "fix" any timeline issues people might have with Pattinson's stories, although one could argue that if DC is leaning hard into a multiverse, why not just show a flash of him as the Batman of Earth-2 or something? Either way, The Flash seems like an easy way to deal with straightening out some lingering issues left behind first by Affleck's departure and possibly by the use of Zack Snyder's Justice League, which will presumably result in a slightly different version of the story being "remembered" by the characters in the films themselves.

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