The DCEU is, well, complicated. And this is before we even think about the Berlanti-verse on TV. Last week came the news that Michael Keaton may be returning to the role of Batman after more than 30 years. This, coupled with the rumor that the Flash movie will deal with the DC multiverse, while Matt Reeve’s The Batman restarts production post-COVID19, gives you some idea as where they may be taking this. Remember, Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen appeared alongside Grant Gustin in a single scene on The Flash TV show too.
With the Zach Snyder version of Justice League coming on HBO Max next year it is quite clear something is afoot in the DCEU and Warner Bros. are on superhero maneuvers once again. Wonder Woman 1984 is imminent and Aquaman 2 will be kicking off production.
Another thing that is becoming clear is exactly how much effort they are putting into the Snyder Cut to get it ready for the streamer. Considerable budget is set aside. Henry Cavill has already talked about his Superman being on-board as required. Now it seems that Ben Affleck is again donning the cowl and cape.
He has apparently signed a contract direct with HBO Max to reprise his role as Bruce Wayne to provide additional content to support the effort. According to some rumors out there it is also potentially for further work in this Justice League universe should the Snyder version prove a smash-hit for the streamer.
Taylor Murphy of the Cultured Nerd goes even further and claims that Pattinson was never brought in to replace Affleck, and Keaton wasn’t brought in because Affleck refused. All three are Batman within this multiverse structure that DC and Warner Bros. are going to leverage to allow creatives freedom to explore a vision, yet allowing the way to team-ups to remain open:
“Ben has indeed signed a new contract and he is coming back, the official announcement is expected to happen either at DC FanDome or during JusticeCon. One of the two, we’re going to get that announcement but it’s going to happen before September. We’re going to get the official announcement and we are going to get the Snyderverse Batman is going to be returning.
They are bringing everybody back, this is planned. This is a design because of Zack. This is a plan that they’re moving forward with.”
It is something of a surprise to see Affleck return to the role as he reportedly had a tough time, particularly in his personal life, while playing Batman.
Why Go Back?
When Affleck was cast as Batman in Batman vs Superman and Justice League, with a cameo at the beginning of Suicide Squad, it was always planned that he would play the role in a standalone movie which he had written himself. He also planned to direct.
Over time he stepped away from directing duties and eventually quit the role altogether as Warner Bros then turned to Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson. It emerged now that perhaps it wasn’t Affleck’s well publicized personal issues that led to him quitting the role. Perhaps it was the other way around? He once told the press:
“I showed somebody The Batman script. They said, ‘I think the script is good. I also think you’ll drink yourself to death if you go through what you just went though again.”
There are strong rumors now, seemingly cemented by Cyborg actor Ray Fisher’s comments, that the post-Snyder DCEU was not a happy ship. Furthermore that Geoff Johns may have been somewhat responsible for this.
The rumors also build to say that some of the issues with the DCEU even before Snyder stepped away due to a family tragedy are down to Johns, Affleck was Snyder’s choice for the more mature Bruce Wayne and since Snyder left Justice League, Affleck decided it wasn’t worth all the headaches to remain as Batman.
Geoff John’s was then responsible for a lot of the issues with Justice League with a plan that was in place, hinted at in Batman vs Superman and even as far back as Man Of Steel and Wonder Woman, was simply thrown out by Johns. Murphy adds detail:
“I think a lot of people misconstrued why he left in the first place,” explains Murphy. “A lot of people will say, ‘Oh, Ben left because he almost killed himself in the role…’ They take it further than it really was. Essentially, Ben took the role because of Zack. Zack convinced him, he sold him on the pitch, he loved the idea, and he built that loyalty to Zack.
When Zack left, Ben still stayed behind. He said, ‘I can make this work. I’ll do this. I’m still producing this. I’m going to make it happen.’ But ‘it’ started happening to him, too.
He started losing his control — what he wanted to do with the role, he started losing it, and then he lost his interest in it. Eventually, his own health concerns came up and he realized if he kept going down this path, he wouldn’t get what he wanted, he wouldn’t get to do the role he signed up for, and it was just compromise after compromise.”
When it became clear that Snyder wasn’t just back and polishing his cut, but he was determined to make a statement and deliver on the original vision for everyone, Affleck had his motivation back.
“He didn’t want to compromise so he backed out but then the magic happened. Zack came back, came back in full force.
All the people that caused the issues, to begin with, are gone. Zack is back. He’s making his movie. They pretty much gave him a blank check to finish Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
So giving that level of trust back to Zack Snyder was a huge moment for Ben, and having the idea that Zack is back on control of his project, and the idea that he can then move forward with the project that Zack wanted to make, the Batman movie he wanted to make and have Zack in his corner, that was enough to sell him of the return.”
One thing that is clear is that these contracts or limited to HBO Max as Warner Bros. do not want to undermine The Batman which is definitely planned to be the first of many Batman movies with Matt Reeves and Pattinson working together, and the cast are all signed in for multi-picture deals. This also opens the way for both Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck and Jared Leto’s gang-boss version to co-exist as the Joker.