The past year has been a roller coaster for DC Comics fans. Months after Warner Bros. announced their superhero team-up, tentatively titled Batman vs. Superman, at San Diego Comic-Con 2013, the studio turned the Internet upside down with the announcement that Ben Affleck would be taking over for Christian Bale as Batman.
Then, just as Lex Luthor and Aquaman casting rumors began surface, the studio abruptly delayed the entire production nearly a year - to a new May 6th, 2016 release date. Now, just one day after Marvel Studios announced their intention to move Ant-Man into the old Batman vs. Superman date (July 17th, 2015), we're getting word that Warner Bros. might not have delayed production on the film.
The new (albeit unconfirmed) report comes from Deadline who claim that the Fox TV Pilot The Middle Man, to be directed by Ben Affleck, has been put on hold - due to Affleck scheduling conflicts. News of the show's delay doesn't necessarily mean a change in the future Batman's already busy schedule; however, Deadline goes on to assert that they have inside sources who claim Batman vs. Superman "production is not being delayed and the main players have been summoned to start work right away."
The report doesn't elaborate, or speculate, on why Warner Bros. would change their mind a mere week after officially delaying one of the most-buzzed about movie productions in recent history. Had the change in release date been a result of scheduling conflicts with key players, Affleck's choice to drop out of directing The Middle Man, to help grease the wheels on his turn as Batman/Bruce Wayne, would have made sense. Yet, the "official" reason Warner Bros. gave for moving the Man of Steel sequel into 2016 was to allow "the filmmakers time to realize fully their vision, given the complex visual nature of the story." Putting filmmakers to work earlier than expected is likely actually in service of giving everyone "time realize their full vision" - not to get the film out earlier.
As a result, with no mention of scheduling conflicts in the original WB announcement, it's worth taking this new report with a grain of salt - especially since doubling back on delaying production doesn't necessarily mean that the final film isn't still delayed into 2016. In fact, staying the original production course (not release date) would help ensure a better final film for 2016 - given that it would allow Snyder and his team plenty of time in post-production.
Of course, it's possible that the original delay didn't have to do with "the complex visual nature of the story." Plenty of insiders (us included) have speculated that the delay might actually have been a way to consolidate resources and film both Batman vs. Superman and the rumored Justice League movie (which Gal Gadot's contract confirms will be one of three planned Wonder Woman appearances) back to back.
Should the return to production mean that the film could release in its 2015 date, it's possible that scheduling of newly cast (read: unannounced) actors or some other variable threw a wrench in that back-to-back shoot this past week - and Warner Bros. is reverting to filming Batman vs Superman solo (and A.S.A.P.). Obviously, it'd be awkward for the studio to walk-back their announcement, and would give passionate comic fans another reason to doubt whether DC can pull their shared universe story off, but ultimately the biggest loser in the speculative situation might be Marvel - who would have to decide whether to move Ant-Man back to its pre-Batman vs. Superman delay spot on July 31, 2015.
As mentioned, at this point, Warner Bros. has yet to officially comment on Deadline's (vague) claims, and until they do, it's safe to assume that the Batman vs. Superman release date is delayed - even if production is no longer on hold. That said, we'll update you if we here something official either way.
Batman vs. Superman is currently scheduled for May 6th, 2016.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further news and updates on Batman vs. Superman, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.
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