Throughout the launch of the DC Extended Universe, there has been one piece that was well-received. Despite many pushing back on the initial announcement, Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne aka Batman has been one of the strongest additions to the universe yet. His introduction in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was one of the near-unanimous saving graces of a film that was otherwise controversial, and made everyone only more excited for Affleck to star, write, direct, and produce his standalone feature, The Batman.
However, now much of that is up in the air. Affleck and WB officially announced that he will no longer be directing the film and it has since been revealed that Chris Terrio was brought on to rewrite the script. To what extent had not previously been revealed, but the latest report indicates it could be a heavy rewrite, and potentially the first of many. While we wait to see how the new script shapes up, Affleck's version originally included an appearance by Jared Leto's Joker and more.
Forbes wrote an extensive article about the state of The Batman and when discussing the previous iteration, confirmed that at one time the plan was for Batman to come face to face with more villains than just Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke. Specifically, the report noted Deathstroke was the main villain with "a few other likely villainous appearances by characters including the Joker." However, which other villains were not named.
At this point only speculation could point to what other DC villains could have made appearances in The Batman. Will Smith's Deadshot had been linked to the project before, making him a likely candidate to appear if Bruce and Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) had another meeting in Belle Reve. With Harley Quinn out on the streets with Joker, she could have been a likely candidate as well, along with potentially her Gotham City Sirens cast mates. However, this report could also point to a number of classic Batman villains making their DCEU debut.
Joker's inclusion on the other hand is not surprising as he is the classic Batman villain. Leto's version of the character was a highly debated topic leading up to and after the debut of Suicide Squad. Leto himself has been very vocal about how he felt the theatrical cut did a disservice to him and the character, so him making another appearance with Affleck's direction could have helped change the way some perceive the Joker - plus, Leto teased his return ahead of these troubles surfacing.
Thanks to the lesser role Affleck is taking, it will be interesting to see how many of these ideas stick around. WB has already established a pattern of introducing many new characters within a single film, so if they have more control of the new script, that could be the direction they decide to stay with as an avenue of further fleshing out the universe. On the other hand, given the response to their previous efforts, they could look at making a change to their approach and decide to focus on a single villain for the film. Only time will tell what route they end up going down, but this information should start to be made available once a new director is brought on board.
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