The Future of Batfleck
There’s been speculation for months that Ben Affleck will be stepping aside as Batman before the solo film happens, leaving Justice League as his last appearance as the caped crusader.
A number of things have fueled this speculation, from Justice League’s box office performance to statements made by Affleck himself. Most notably, he said that he was looking for a “graceful and cool” departure from the role. Now, that obviously doesn’t put a timetable on his exit, but does confirm that it’s on his mind.
Just reading the tea leaves here, but I do believe we will see Batfleck one more time, and that will be in Flashpoint, currently in development.
If you’re not familiar with the Flashpoint storyline from the comics and don’t wish to have anything spoiled, stop reading now.
Okay, so in the comics, Flashpoint involves Barry Allen using the speed force to go back in time to stop his mother’s murder and his father’s being framed for it. In the process of changing that moment in history, everything else changes as well. For example, Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father, is actually Batman, as Bruce was the one killed by a robber instead.
Barry and Thomas do work to fix the timeline and make things right, but not everything goes back to how it was before. Many differences remain, with Barry the only one who can remember the previous timeline.
So, with that plot in mind, let’s put the puzzle together.
We know that Batman will feature prominently in the Flashpoint movie, which is no surprise given the story from the comics.
We also know that director Matt Reeves is developing a Batman trilogy. This is an important point. If he were doing just a standalone film, Affleck would probably be in it. But it really doesn’t look like Affleck will be around for an entire trilogy, and Reeves wants the continuity of having the same Batman for all three films.
We’ve also heard that Flashpoint’s release may be moved up from its original date of 2020. This makes sense if they want to make the change in Batman before Reeves’ trilogy begins.
Affleck simply leaving after Justice League, never to be heard from again, would not be “graceful and cool”. It would simply be a failure. But what cooler exit could Affleck make than one in the Flashpoint story? This is why I believe his next and last appearance will be in Flashpoint. He’ll be there in the beginning of the movie, Flashpoint happens, and then we get a different-looking Bruce Wayne at the end. It becomes a soft reboot of the character within the universe that makes sense and appeals to fans.
Another point to note is the rumor that Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who played Thomas Wayne in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is rumored to appear in Flashpoint. This gives more credence to the potential plot and direction they’ll take the character.
I don’t believe the studio wants to push Affleck out of the role, but it’s increasingly clear he doesn’t want to stay long-term. And let’s face it, at 45, how long can he continue the action movies anyway? He’s under contract for two Justice League movies, but with Gal Gadot set to appear and likely others,Flashpoint may well end up becoming a quasi-Justice League film.
If done this way, the DCEU can survive a Batman recast. I really like Affleck’s portrayal of the character, but it’s not like he’s synonymous with the role. I mean, we’ve seen five other actors in this role on the big screen before. And yes, a recast mid-universe is always disconcerting, but that’s whyFlashpoint provides the perfect chance to do it.
Affleck, DC Films and Warner will have to be coy about this whole situation as to not risk spoiling the film, but the signs all point to Batfleck’s departure, and the arrival of a new Bruce Wayne, in Flashpoint.