Matt Reeves has reportedly turned in the first part of a new script for The Batman, one featuring a younger version of the Caped Crusader, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's time to recast Ben Affleck as Batman just yet. Rumors of Affleck staying or going have been swirling for months now, but just because a younger version of Batman joins the universe doesn't mean his days are numbered.
When director Zack Snyder first cast Ben Affleck for the role of the Dark Knight in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, he was picturing a very different version of Batman. Snyder's Batman was a vigilante who'd been battling against Gotham's darkness for decades and had paid a terrible price for his war on crime. He'd lost hope, abandoned principle, and become far more violent than the traditional interpretation, and it took Superman's sacrifice to inspire him to become a hero once again. It was an atypical take on Batman, but it gave Warner Bros. the opportunity to assume years of backstory for the Caped Crusader, giving him an established rogues' gallery and weaving characters like Harley Quinn, Joker, and Deadshot into Suicide Squad with little difficulty.
The latest reports suggest Matt Reeves, writer and director of The Batman, is taking a very different approach. He's believed to have just turned in a script, one focused on a younger version of Batman. If this is accurate, then it implies Ben Affleck won't be starring in the film after all. But it doesn't mean Affleck is leaving the DCEU.
- This Page: The Batman Could Be A Prequel
- Page 2: A Younger Batman Doesn't Need To Be In The DCEU
The Batman Could Be A Prequel
If Matt Reeves's script does indeed call for a younger Batman, this is more likely to be a prequel film. Any other approach - simply rebooting the character in a younger form - would clash with the narrative of the DCEU to date. It would also sacrifice the relationships that were core in Justice League, such as Batman's father-figure role with Flash.
Thus, if the film is indeed part of the DCEU, it's most likely set in the past and delves into the Dark Knight's DCEU backstory. There's precedent for this approach; Wonder Woman was set during the First World War, and Wonder Woman 2 is based in the '80s. Both explore the history of Diana, and presumably will ultimately explain how she became the hero we first encountered on the big screen in Batman V Superman. In just the same way, Matt Reeves's film could reveal how Bruce Wayne began his journey as Batman. Sequels could explore just how the legend of the Batman became so prominent in Gotham, how he encountered important members of his rogues' gallery, and how he gained - and lost - Robins
While knowing the ultimate outcome of this version of the character could be a bit constraining for Reeves, the references to Batman's past in the DCEU so far have been vague enough to leave the writer/director a lot of room to put his own spin on events. In fact, so long as Reeves doesn't kill off Batman, Alfred, or Comissioner Gordon, he can basically do whatever he wants up until the events of the Kryptonian invasion
Not only would this give Reeves freedom to tell basically any Batman story he wants, but could also add more backstory to Affleck's version of the character, showing fans some of the events that occurred on his journey to the world-weary fallen Batman introduced by Zack Snyder.
Page 2 of 2: A Younger Batman Doesn't Need To Be In The DCEU
A Younger Batman May Not Be In The DCEU
There is another possibility, though; that The Batman isn't set in the DCEU at all. DC's rival Marvel Studios is renowned for its shared cinematic universe, where every film occurs in the same world as the others. The DCEU was intended to be DC's answer to that, but unlike Marvel, Warner Bros. doesn't intend all their superhero films to be part of the same continuity.
Warner Bros. has a number of "Elseworlds-esque" movies in the works under a label called "DC Dark" or "DC Black" - standalone adventures set in a different reality to the DCEU. The first of these will be an as-yet-untitled Joker origin story, with Joaquin Phoenix reportedly in talks to play the Joker. This will be completely separate to Jared Leto's Joker, who's expected to appear in a number of films, including a Suicide Squad spinoff and a Joker/Harley Quinn spinoff. This clearly sets a precedent for Warner Bros. to actually use two versions of the same character at once. One can be part of the DCEU, and the other exists in his own separate world. If the studio is doing this for the Joker, why couldn't they do the same for Batman too?
That would be a smart move, allowing the studio to explore the early years of the Dark Knight without worrying about the backstory from Batman V Superman. As a result, you'd actually have two different portrayals of Batman on the big screen at the same time - but they'd be very different.
Affleck's Batman Doesn't Need To Be In Solo Films
Batman has always been a hero who's full of contradictions. On the one hand, the Dark Knight regularly insists that he works alone; on the other, he seems to spend most of his time in team-ups, and collects sidekicks at a prodigious rate. The DCEU has focused in on the latter aspect, on Batman as a team player. Tellingly, Batman V Superman heavily implied that it was the death of Robin that caused Bruce Wayne's descent into brutality, and his first reaction to Superman's death - which brings him out of that funk - is to put together a team. The DCEU's Batman is a man who has been alone for far too long but has finally found allies and even friends.
Given that's the case, Warner Bros. may actually be wise not to do solo Batfleck films at all. Instead, Affleck could play the part in cameos and team-up movies, with a continual stress on the relationships Batman is developing with the rest of the Justice League. He could appear in The Flash, for example, in a continuation of the mentor relationship he built with Barry Allen. The Dark Knight's genius could prove invaluable in helping Superman deal with another alien threat, or else he could develop his friendship with Diana in a future (present-day) Wonder Woman movie. Bruce Wayne could essentially become the "Nick Fury" of the DCEU, the glue that holds the Justice League together. Logically, that would mean he'd play a major role in (surely inevitable) team-up movies.
That would allow Matt Reeves's The Batman to launch a new Batman franchise, one that stands on its own but does not compete with Affleck's portrayal of the Caped Crusader. Where Affleck's Batman is a team player, Reeves's could be the solo hero, the man who really doesn't play well with others. The two different portrayals could coexist as part of two separate franchises.
Ben Affleck fans shouldn't count the actor out just yet. If these reports are accurate, and if Reeves's first script is indeed one that stars a younger Dark Knight, that doesn't necessarily mean Affleck's time in the cowl is coming to an end. Rather, it may well simply indicate that Warner Bros. is preparing another "Elseworlds-esque" franchise, an attempt to use two different versions of the Dark Knight at one and the same time.