Ben Affleck’s Uncertainty as Batman Puts Warner Brothers in a Tight Spot

Justice League is likely the last time we see Ben Affleck in the cape and cowl.

Two weeks after the release of Justice League, Warner Brothers’ DC Comics superhero team-up and answer to Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe, the movie has amassed just over $480 million worldwide. No matter how you spin that number, it’s a disappointing figure for a movie event that should have been celebrated worldwide by both fans and critics alike; it’s a movie event that should have had board members at Warner Brothers doing cartwheels in their offices after looking at the box office numbers. But after it’s all said and done, Justice League could make just around the same amount of money as Man of Steel, which made only $668 million worldwide. For a superhero movie team-up that was supposed to give relevance to DC Comics’ properties after the lukewarm reception at the hands of the Superman reboot, oh how the irony appears here with the confidence Warner Brothers demonstrates in their comic book movie properties.

With Justice League dishing out much lower numbers than expected, Warner Brothers will use most of 2018 to reevaluate their DC Comics properties for film, though other solo movies still in production will go on as planned. Aquaman, which is scheduled to come out next December, finished shooting a couple of months ago with no production issues. Shazam! is currently in preproduction, and will begin shooting early next year. And Wonder Woman 2 is still going forward with both director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot returning, as final touches are being put on the script for the sequel scheduled to come out in November 2019.

But what about the other DC Comics properties that are in early development before the release of Justice League? Yeah, you can forget about almost them all unless Warner Brothers confirms that any one of them (Flashpoint, Nightwing, Suicide Squad 2, Gotham City Sirens) is still going forward via a press release.

While none of those properties will see the light of day anytime soon, one DC Comics movie in early development remains a likely possibility: director Matt Reeves’ solo Batman movie. But what about Ben Affleck’s involvement in said Batman solo movie?

Given the persistent “Is Affleck done with Batman” rumors, the disappointing box office numbers of Justice League, Affleck’s comments since 2016 about playing Batman, and his lack of enthusiasm in interviews during Justice League’s press tour, it all signals that Justice League might have been the last time we saw Affleck in the cape and cowl.

If Affleck is done, what exactly does Warner Brothers do with Batman? How do they make a Batman story without its star who initially committed to being around for a little while? Given that Affleck’s Batman in Batman v Superman and Justice League was a Batman near the end of his days of crime fighting, you can’t just replace Affleck with another actor around his age to replace because that would confuse audiences. But what about a Batman prequel that shows Batman in his early days of crime fighting? The problem there is whether the solo movie then would be connected to this currently iffy DC Extended Universe or whether this new Batman would be its own thing.

Months from now, I’m sure we’ll have an answer from Warner Brothers about their future plans for Batman. People like me still love Batman and want to see him on the big screen. But it’s a shame that the reaction for Batman v Superman and Justice League has Affleck wanting out already. But then again, the A-list actor’s reluctance to see things through and ditch out of this universe now puts Warner Brothers in a tight spot as to how they present the next iteration of Batman on film to audiences.

Personally, I would like to see a new Batman movie where Bruce Wayne retires and gives someone else the cape and cowl that instills fears in the criminals of Gotham; if Warner Brothers is still going forward with this DC Comics movie universe, then it would make more sense if they want to go forward with continuity in this universe. And see, this way, Affleck can go out on a high note and a new, younger actor can play Batman for years to come.

But see, that’s wishful thinking. And given the state of DC Comics on film right now, remaining hopeful about any DC Comics character not named Wonder Woman is a stretch.