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6 Ways Big-Screen Batman Could Move Beyond Ben Affleck (if Necessary)

While Ben Affleck vehemently affirmed at Comic-Con his love of playing Batman (without, it should be noted, ever explicitly saying “I’m staying on as Batman”), rumors persist that Warner Bros. are interested in a recast. Part of this is that age matters more than celebrity, and while an older and angrier Batman served Zack Snyder‘s needs, it’s not as useful a take for long-term franchise durability. Another factor is that Affleck, ironically, may be too big a name: for Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, and Jason Momoa, the DC characters are probably the biggest roles they will ever have, but for Oscar-nominated director Affleck, as Street Fighter‘s M. Bison once said, it was Tuesday. He may love Batman, but he doesn’t seem like the type to feel creatively fulfilled if he doesn’t get to do his own thing as well.

Speaking as a former hater who wound up loving “Batfleck,” I hope he doesn’t leave. But if he does, how exactly could the DC movies handle it? I have a few ideas, some of which are more obvious than others.

The Keaton/Kilmer “agree not to notice” switch


Warner Bros. have faced this dilemma before, when they pushed Tim Burton out of the directors spot following Batman Returns, and Michael Keaton decided not to stick around. They just carried on like nothing happened: Batman Forever carries over Michael Gough’s Alfred and Pat Hingle’s Commissioner Gordon, but switches out Batman and Harvey Dent for new actors without ever acknowledging they look totally different.

More recently, Marvel substituted Don Cheadle for Terence Howard as War Machine, and acknowledged it with a winking, nodding “get over it” line. And while viewers have, let’s say, not embraced Iron Man 2 quite as much as the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Cheadle’s casting isn’t the reason why.

But after Justice League, Affleck will have been the Bat in three movies so far, which is one more than Keaton and two more than Howard. He is arguably more entrenched in the part. So what can be done in-universe?



Arguably the biggest surprise announcement during the DC portion of the WB panel was the news that Flash’s solo movie, as of now, is planned to be Flashpoint. (Made all the more surprising by the fact that Flashpoint was recently done in the DCTV universe.) In the comics, it was used as a massive reboot of the entire DC Universe caused by the Flash traveling back in time. Now, in the comics it also led to the “New 52,” which spawned darker storylines and over-detailed costumes…something you could say about the Zack Snyder movies as well. Fans weren’t crazy about the changes, and the timeline recently reset back to relative normal with the “Rebirth” event.

And that revealed the real culprit…

The Watchmen


In a controversial move that would likely have infuriated Alan Moore if anyone dared to make him aware of it, Watchmen‘s Dr. Manhattan was integrated into the regular DC Universe and turned out to be the creator of the entire New 52 reality. This was seen by some as a meta-critique of the “grimdark” trend in comics that Moore and Frank Miller helped kick off in the late ’80s, but it’s also notable that Watchmen was Zack Snyder’s first superhero movie in the DC world, and he followed it with a cynical Superman and angry Batman. Who’s to say we can’t retcon the Watchmen movie into the DCEU, and get Billy Crudup back as Dr. Manhattan (presumably minus CG genitalia) to undo everything in the Flashpoint movie? Even if we don’t, an in-universe reboot allows for the recasting of anybody, and sends a message to fans who haven’t liked the darker-toned movies thus far that they’re going to be more fun from now on.

Also, it would explain how Wonder Woman can be having a sequel adventure in the ’80s when she said in Batman V Superman that she walked away from the world of men 100 years ago.

The Multiverse

The LEGO Batman Sings

While Doctor Strange brought alternate dimensions into the Marvel Universe, the concept of parallel realities hasn’t really been introduced in the DC movies yet…or has it?

The answer depends what you count as a DC movie, because The LEGO Batman Movie, in fact, did acknowledge a multiverse. Not by name, but by implication: the dialogue and flashbacks specifically called out every prior incarnation of Batman—from the Lewis Wilson serials to the Christopher Nolan movies—as one that counted, and LEGO Batman remembered. But weren’t those just in the LEGO universe? Well, no…the flashbacks to Adam West were live-action. And the Phantom Zone, which played a major part in the story, is in another dimension.

So ironically, the jokey toy movie might hold the key to bringing in an alternate universe Batman if the Affleck incarnation somehow either dies or switches places with, let’s say, David Mazouz’s young Bruce Wayne from Gotham. The 16 year-old will be 18 or more by the time WB gets around to pulling the trigger on all this.

Batman Who?


Like a Time Lord, Batman does have a built-in mechanism for regenerating after death: the Lazarus Pit, created by Ra’s al Ghul to keep him immortal. Normally, people who go into the Lazarus Pit come out looking pretty much the same, but it wouldn’t take much plot tweaking to have it make the subject younger, and therefore substitute a younger actor.

It’s just that you’d have to introduce that concept—and a new Ra’s al Ghul—first. And that might take a whole ‘nother movie.

Or, they could do something completely different…like, say…

Just Ditch Bruce Wayne Altogether

Batman Beyond 2.0, Ch. 31, pg. 3

Batman hasn’t always been “Master Bruce” behind the cowl. Dick Grayson, who will probably be introduced onscreen as Nightwing, has subbed in for his former mentor more than once—and the vigilante Azrael took over after Bruce Wayne’s back was broken by Bane. However, it seems unlikely the new movies would want to use a plot that similar to The Dark Knight Rises again so soon. (But if they’re willing to mirror the TV universe so soon, who’s to say? Anything could happen.)

Alternatively, we could fast-forward to the future and see Batman Beyond, with a much older Bruce Wayne (who could be recast with somebody Affleck’s senior—maybe even Keaton again?) mentoring young Terry McGinnis to be the new Bat of sci-fi Gotham. But that still wouldn’t solve the issue of who takes Batman’s place in the present-day Justice League.

How would you like to see a potentially Affleck-free DCEU future handled? Do you like any of the suggestions above, or have one of your own? Let’s hear it in comments!

Images: Warner Bros., DC Comics

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