It doesn't look like Ben Affleck's Batman will be the primary focus of Matt Reeve's The Batman, but he could still have a major role as the film's narrator.
The saga of WB's Attempt to reintroduce Batman to the big screen after Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy has been a long and drawn out affair. The initial announcement that Ben Affleck would portray Batman was met with hostility from many corners of the internet, only for him to end up as one of the more generally agreed upon bright spots of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. After that, it was expected that Affleck would continue developing the character himself by writing and directing the next Batman solo movie.
Unfortunately, that's not what happened. Affleck started to sound uneasy about his role as director before eventually dropping out. The year and a half since then has been continuous speculation that he'd abandon the franchise entirely by abandoning the Batman role as well. But there's still a big opportunity for him in Matt Reeves' film.
A Young Batman Doesn't Mean They're Ditching Affleck As Actor
There's been so much will-he-won't-he drama surrounding Ben Affleck that most people seemed to immediately interpret the news that Matt Reeves was looking for a younger Batman as confirmation that Affleck was walking away from the role for good. However, a young Batman actually allows Reeves to tell a new story that doesn't conflict with the version of Batman Zack Snyder and Affleck established in Batman v Superman.
Matt Reeves has continually suggested that The Batman will be a part of existing DCEU continuity, so going to an earlier stage of Batman's career actually preserves Affleck's role in the franchise. If the actor was truly getting cold feet about his franchise commitments, telling a Batman story that doesn't require him to get into superhero shape, spend hours a day in an uncomfortable costume, or distract from his other projects is the perfect way to still provide new Batman stories set in this universe while mitigating Affleck's biggest frustrations with the role.
Ben Affleck is Still Involved in The Batman
Affleck was originally set to write, direct, act, and produce the movie, a combination of hats that proved too much to manage, presumably made even more difficult with Warner Bros. complicated behind the scenes issues during Justice League production, where Affleck was also an executive producer.
His role has decreased significantly, as he's handed the directing reigns to Matt Reeves, who reportedly passed up Affleck's script for something new, but Affleck has yet to officially step aside as an actor, and he's still confirmed as a producer, meaning he still has skin in the game.
Given, it's almost certain at this point that Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman won't be the primary focus of the movie, but there can still be an important role for him to play.
Affleck as a Narrator is Perfect For a Noir Batman Story
The Batman, even when Affleck was the main driving creative force behind it, has always been billed as a noir detective story. The story under Matt Reeves may have been changed up, but that element has remained the same. Batman comics have always had a noir influence, but that specific style hasn't been translated onto the big screen as much, with Christopher Nolan's crime thriller approach of The Dark Knight being the closest.
Two of the biggest characteristics of film noir are non-linear storytelling and voice-over narration, and Batman comics have often included an internal monologue - another aspect that hasn't made it to live-action Batman just yet. If Matt Reeves truly embraces both the source material and film noir, having the movie narrated by an older Batman makes a lot of sense. Affleck could even have a somewhat larger role bookending the movie or leading his own parallel story set after the events of Justice League.
With Affleck not wanting his role as Batman to get in the way of his other projects, Matt Reeves wanting to tell a story with a younger Batman, and fans wanting to see Affleck reprise the role, this seems like a solution that can please everyone, and it's one we proposed back before Matt Reeves even joined the project. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice already opens with a brief monologue from Affleck, so it's also a natural continuation of the way the character is already established in that movie.
There's certainly a number of details still up in the air about The Batman, but with production anticipated to begin in the first half of 2019, we could be getting more official news soon. And maybe, finally, it will put the whole Ben Affleck question to bed once and for all.
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