It would appear that Ben Afflecks Batman journey has come to an end. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor will not be reprising his role as the caped crusader after all; instead, the next film to feature Batman will focus on a younger iteration of the billionaire superhero. Writer-director Matt Reeves, who is now set to helm the standalone film The Batman, reportedly turned in a draft of his script over Memorial Day weekend. Representatives for Warner Bros. have not yet responded to Vanity Fairs request for comment.
Its the final chapter in a long, winding journey for Affleck, whos played Bruce Wayne in two films. Had things gone as originally planned, Affleck would have followed up a Justice League sequel—which also appears dead in the water—with The Batman, a standalone film that Affleck was set to direct, produce, and star in. In December 2016, Affleck was optimistic about the future of the project, saying that the script was nearly finished and “everything is coming together.” But just a few weeks later, his excitement dampened. “Its not a set thing and theres no script,” he said in an interview with The Guardian. “If it doesnt come together in a way I think is really great, Im not going to do it.”
Fast-forward to the end of January 2017, when Affleck announced that he would no longer direct the project, instead focusing solely on producing and acting. “Performing this role demands focus, passion, and the very best performance I can give,” he said in a statement. “It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require.” Reeves (who previously directed War for the Planet of the Apes) was tapped to take Afflecks place in the directors chair, and later revealed that he was scrapping all the old script ideas dreamt up by Affleck, Chris Terrio, and Geoff Johns. Another thread of Afflecks influence, pulled from the franchise. But the actor kept hope alive nonetheless! He spoke publicly and affectionately about playing Batman, calling himself the luckiest guy in the world for snagging this role.
Alas: recent shake-ups at D.C., as well as flagging box-office returns and dismal reviews for several of the studios superhero movies (including Justice League and Batman v Superman) have led W.B. to make some serious changes about the direction of its comic-book films. The recent exodus of former D.C. Entertainment president Geoff Johns, who has since been replaced by Walter Hamada, was a telling precursor to the beginning of the end for Afflecks turn as Batman.
Somewhere out there, the actor is standing on a shady ledge, smoking a cigarette and listening to “The Sound of Silence,” darkly basking in this moment of cinematic ennui. “Its just you and me, old pal,” he grunts, gently patting the many-colored phoenix tattoo on his back.
Representatives for Affleck have not yet responded to Vanity Fairs request for comment.
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