The latest rumors suggest that Matt Reeves's The Batman could be a reboot, with Ben Affleck leaving the DCEU - but is this really the case?
When Affleck was first cast for the role of Bruce Wayne, he was a controversial choice. However, the actor's performance in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice won viewers over. Affleck was initially assigned to both write and direct the first solo Batman film in the DCEU but bowed out. Then, last year, there were rumors he was still unhappy with the role and wanted to leave the DCEU altogether (although these were strongly denied by both Warner Bros. and Affleck himself).
The latest rumor originates from Deadline. They published an article discussing Geoff Johns's departure as chief creative officer of DC Film, and extensively discussed Johns's new role as writer and producer of Green Lantern. The article also included a throwaway comment about The Batman:
"There is an opportunity for Toby Emmerich to really reshuffle the executive deck on the feature side and turn DC into something more formidable than it is right now... with Matt Reeves rebooting Batman for a new standalone franchise, likely with a new actor to play the Caped Crusader after Ben Affleck’s stints in Batman V Superman and Justice League."
It's certainly a shocking statement, suggesting both that Affleck has been recast and that The Batman will be "a new standalone franchise" - meaning it may actually not be part of the DCEU at all. But should that comment really be taken at face value?
As this comes from one of the trades, it's been treated as a firm report. However, it's actually part of a much bigger story. In context, this sentence is not actually about The Batman, rather the opportunity Toby Emmerich has to improve DC Films' performance. While it's definitely possible Deadline has information on recent DC Films developments, this would be a strange way to break it; given how hotly debated Affleck's Batman has become, that warrants a story if it can confirm. Instead, considering the key sentence itself has a crucial qualifier, "likely", it is at the most an unverified rumor, at least speculation based on the past few years of turbulence around the DCEU.
Just last week, it was conversely rumored that Affleck wants to continue playing Batman from a source (Twitter user DanielRPK) called both Ava DuVernay and Steven Spielberg's new DC movies before they were announced. The current situation has clear parallels to July and August 2017, when there were a flood of rumors that Affleck was departing the DCEU. His brother Casey unwittingly implied these rumors were true, before swiftly backpedaling. Ben Affleck himself was ultimately forced to go public at San Diego Comic-Con, insisting that he "would be an ape on the ground for Matt Reeves." The rumors finally quietened down - until now.
Just as in July 2017, it would be wiser to wait for solid news. There's as yet been no official comment from either DC Film or Ben Affleck himself. None of this is to say that Batman isn't being recast or that Matt Reeves' movie is outside of the DCEU, but there's simply not enough available evidence to argue otherwise either. Right now, it's possible that DC Film may again have to devote time at an SDCC panel to debunking rumors of Affleck's The Batman departure - for the second year running.