The DC Cinematic Universe is not on steady ground. With mixed results on all three of the Universe’s films (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad), Warner Brothers and everyone involved in these films are banking on both Wonder Woman and Justice League delivering big results and positive reviews this year.
But now there is a giant elephant in the room. There are reports that Ben Affleck, also known as Batman in this Universe, wants to walk away from the iconic role. The first clue came when there was talk about how the script for the hero’s solo outing, titled The Batman, was surrounded with questions. Some claimed the script was a mess while others said there were creative differences between the studio and Affleck, who was penning the script.
Since then, Affleck has stepped down as the director of the film, which was a move that had many scratching their heads over. The script has now reportedly gone through a rewrite and Matt Reeves is now in the director’s chair. So now that things surrounding the Batman solo film appear to be moving in the right direction, the word of Affleck wanting to step out of the role are coming to light, as mentioned above.
This would be an absolutely devasting blow for the DC films. With such an iconic character such as Batman, there needs to be stability. There is no replacing a Bruce Wayne. So if Affleck does indeed move on from the role, things will not be looking too good for the rest of the Justice League.
For starters, Affleck’s version of Batman has already cemented himself as a key player in the universe, despite only making one appearance. He was one of the brightest spots in Dawn of Justice and now appears set to be the man who puts the Justice League together. He will be the one recruiting Aquaman and Flash and likely Cyborg as well, with Wonder Woman lending a helping hand. With Superman dead at the moment, Bruce Wayne is set to be a prime figure in Justice League, which is done filming.
So we know for sure he will be making at least a second appearance as Mr. Wayne. It sounds like if Warner Brothers were to agree to let him walk, which quite frankly makes no sense, they would want him to at least complete The Batman. That would mean three appearances for this version of the Caped Crusader before he disappears into the shadows.
Sure, they could spin it as Bruce, who is already a worn and rugged hero who has been through a lot, deciding to hang up the cape, the universe would simply not feel right. DC has three major iconic characters, with Batman being one of them (Superman and Wonder Woman being the others). So for the DC Universe to continue without a Bruce Wayne, the interest would surely decline. Especially when you consider the fact that they are hanging on by a thread as is.
The other option the studio could opt for would be re-casting the role. But I am just going to say this as bluntly as possible: There is no re-casting for a role as big as Batman within a universe.
Yes, there have been plenty of takes on the character over the course of the years. But each of those have occurred in their own separate universes. The Michael Keaton version is totally different from the Christian Bale one. Their respective films had their own tones. Their own villains. Their own personalities.
Then you will those who point to the Incredible Hulk within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Edward Norton played the role of Bruce Banner back in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. But when The Avengers rolled around in 2012, the role had been recast, with Mark Ruffalo taking on the role. But there is a big difference between the characters.
Batman is the guy who runs the show. He is the leader of his respective group of heroes, especially in this particular instance since Superman is currently six feet under. It is part of what makes his character so iconic. As for Hulk, yes he is a popular character whom fans love, but he is not the guy.
Within the Avengers, Hulk would rank third at best, with Iron Man and Captain America being the team’s two leaders. Hulk is simply the muscle and is arguably on equal ground as Thor and Black Widow in terms of importance. He simply is not the face of the team. Replacing Batman would be more along the lines of replacing Iron Man. And let’s face it, there is no replacing Robert Downey Jr. in that role right now.
So when you take Affleck’s performance in the role plus the importance of the character to the Universe as a whole and there is simply no way removing him from the picture can be done without everyone feeling the effects. A Justice League sequel would lose a ton of appeal in this superhero film fan’s eyes. We may never get to see this version of the character interact with his most iconic villain, the Joker, who already exists in the form of Jared Leto.
Would they have someone like Joker or Deathstroke kill him off in the solo Batman film? Sure that could work, but it would not change the fact that future DC films would be without one of their best assets. His personality seems like it will clash a little with Aquaman’s while producing laughs with the Flash. Those dynamics would be lost after one film.
Superman would be the clear favorite to take over as the lead DC guy. And quite frankly, this version of the Man of Steel is kind of boring. He does not have the same charisma as Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne.
So it seems pretty clear to me, DC and WB needs to do everything in their power to keep Affleck around. Batfleck cannot just walk away from the DC Cinematic Universe if they want to survive. They need some stability and not more questions.
So what do you think? Would the DC Cinematic Universe crumble if their Batman walked away? Tell us in the comments!