The future of Batman in the DCEU has gotten a bit confusing with both Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton now in the role. Here’s what we know so far.
Rumors of Batman’s future in the DCEU have become hot topics of late, as fans speculate how Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck, and Robert Pattinson all fit into Warner Bros.’ plans. A recent story that Keaton would be replacing Affleck as the core DCEU Bruce Wayne and starring in a number of solo films has since been denied, leaving many to wonder what the real plan is. Batman remains DC’s most popular character by far, but his onscreen future remains uncertain.
Part of the confusion stems from Batman’s complicated history in the DCEU. Ben Affleck was meant to be one of the franchise’s main stars, with a planned solo film following Justice League. Those plans ended up changing dramatically for several reasons – partially due to the critical failure of Batman v. Superman and Justice League and their underwhelming box office performances, and partially due to personal concerns from Affleck over continuing in the role. He’s since agreed to come back for reshoots of the Justice League Snyder Cut and a small part in The Flash, but two more Bruce Waynes have been added in his absence.
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There’s a lot of promising potential for future Batman projects at the moment, but how it all pans out will largely depend on the DCEU’s next few films. As the franchise takes on more of a multiverse structure, any number of different series or one-off movies could be possible, starring any number of different actors. There’s a lot still yet to be revealed (or possibly even decided) by WB, but here’s everything we know so far about the future of Batman in the DCEU.
Michael Keaton’s Batman Return In The Flash Explained
Michael Keaton’s return as Batman in The Flash hinges on one core concept – the multiverse. The movie seems to be pulling primary inspiration from the acclaimed Flashpoint series of comics, which sees the eponymous speedster travel to an alternate reality and befriend a dark and grizzled Bruce Wayne, among other things. While the new movie may not be taking that story point for point, it seems likely that Keaton’s ‘90s Batman will enter the story when Barry Allen jumps to his corner of the multiverse.
The Flash is central to DC’s future plans for this same reason. They’ve already connected the DCEU and the Arrowverse by having Ezra Miller’s Flash cameo in the Crisis on Infinite Earths TV crossover event, and The Flash will likely expand on the canon of the multiverse significantly. With movies like Joker and The Batman taking place in wholly independent timelines and a smattering of series across different realities all releasing on HBO Max, the multiverse is DC’s way of telling wildly different stories but maintaining a connective tissue between them.
Reports On Michael Keaton Replacing Ben Affleck’s Batman
What does all that mean for Keaton’s Batman? It means that there is massive potential for more of him in the future, but also that there doesn’t necessarily need to be. The Flash could lead him into the proper DCEU timeline for good, or it could leave him in his own reality – where he might just exist as a one-time cameo, have a semi-recurring supporting role, or become the star of a separate solo series. That last option seems unlikely with Pattinson’s own film coming soon, but anything is possible.
A rumor circling the internet recently pitched the first possibility – Keaton becoming the main DCEU timeline Batman – as Warner’s actual current plan. That theory was based on an interview with DC Films president Walter Hamada that referenced two different Batman franchises starring two different actors. The author of the article, Brooks Barnes of The New York Times, has since denied such suppositions, clarifying that Hamada was only referencing The Flash and The Batman, not any future unannounced projects, and that there are no announced plans for Keaton to take over as Batman.
Still, just because something hasn’t been confirmed doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Could Keaton become the new masked face of the DCEU? In some timeline, surely, but likely not this one. Pattinson will be the primary cinematic attraction for Gotham fans going forward, and the Caped Crusader’s role in the ongoing DCEU story has diminished substantially. It’s perhaps more possible that Keaton could appear in a supporting role through the multiverse, or even his own solo film – more of a follow up to his ‘90s films than to Justice League. Who knows – Tim Burton could even return to direct.
How Ben Affleck’s Batman Could Return After The Flash
Simply put, Keaton becoming central to the DCEU seems unlikely. Ben Affleck’s Batman returning to a more central role in the franchise, however, could be a better bet. His recent reprisal of the role is a promising development, but that doesn’t mean he’s agreed to come back in a lasting, starring role. Affleck departed the series in large part due to his own mental health struggles and problems with drinking at the time, much of which he’s spoken about openly since. Whether or not he would want to take up the long-term role again, or if that’s even possible after Pattinson’s casting, remains to be seen.
With no concrete plans for additional Justice League movies or further installments in Zack Snyder’s intended core storyline, there’s not much room for Affleck’s Batman at the moment. The best chance for him to continue after The Flash would probably be as a recurring cameo, appearing in Wonder Woman 3 or Aquaman 2, or potentially in a larger role if another big cinematic team-up ever happens. Some of that will depend on the reception to The Flash, and to the release of the Snyder Cut later this year.
DC’s Batman Movie Plans Explained
As of now, the only announced movie plans for Batman are Robert Pattinson’s upcoming 2022 film – which is not set in the DCEU timeline – and the appearances from Keaton and Affleck in The Flash. In all likelihood, The Batman will spawn its own multi-film series and become DC’s central focus for years to come. They’ve already announced a tie-in show for HBO Max, so there’s no good reason to divert attention with alternative projects at the time being.
Will Affleck continue to return in cameo roles for future DCEU films? It’s not a guarantee, but it seems very possible. Will Keaton get a brand new solo film in the style of Burton’s classics? Less likely, but it might not be out of the question. There’s a lot of Batman coming to screens of various sizes over the next few years, and hopefully, fans will be happy with the results.
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