Another day, another Ben Affleck is/isn’t Batman story. The Oscar-winning filmmaker and performer made a major commitment in signing on to star as the Caped Crusader shortly after Argo won Best Picture, but that was four years ago, and times at Warner Bros. are a-changin’. The studio has been course-correcting its DC Extended Universe a bit after the dour Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and muddled Suicide Squad failed to spark to critics, but the unqualified success of Wonder Woman shows the way forward, and Warner Bros. has been making big (and different) moves in its wake.
One thing that hasn’t stayed consistent is Ben Affleck’s status as Batman—at least unofficially. Rumors began surfacing late last year that Affleck wanted out of his contract and didn’t want to be Batman anymore, but WB and Affleck’s camp both tried to ease concerns by assuring fans he was and will be Batman for the foreseeable future. Then faith faltered once again when Affleck dropped out of directing the standalone The Batman citing the workload of pulling double duty on that pic, with War for the Planet of the Apes helmer Matt Reeves stepping in to direct. Then, just days before Affleck took the stage at Comic-Con to tout his role in this November’s Justice League, a report came out of THR stating that WB was exploring ways to phase Affleck’s Batman out of the DCEU.
Affleck himself took that report head on, citing his desire (if maybe not WB’s) to remain The Batman:
“My status remains what it always is. I’ve done the two movies. I’ve always intended on doing a third if Warners wants to make it. Certainly, if the Batphone rings, I will answer.”
Now, once again, THR is reporting that sources indicate Affleck will not star in The Batman after all, buried in their story on Leonardo DiCaprio being courted to play The Joker in a standalone origin movie unconnected to the DCEU. Reeves himself recently confirmed that The Batman will definitely be part of the DCEU, so if Affleck is indeed out, we’re either in for a Batman Forever-esque recasting or Reeves’ planned trilogy will focus on a younger Batman, telling a prequel-esque story to the DCEU we’ve seen thus far.
So what’s all this mean? Is Affleck in or is he out? It’s unclear, and it may remain unclear for some time. If Affleck is indeed completely 100% out as Batman, Warner Bros. and Affleck both may want to keep that information under wraps until after Justice League hits theaters in November—no need to give audiences a reason not to see a movie with a lame duck Batman. But it does seem like all of this is a bit fluid. Reeves has only just started getting into the nitty gritty of writing and developing The Batman, so it may yet be some time before that film gets fully fleshed out. For now, Affleck’s status as Batman remains, well, in flux.