The future of Ben Affleck’s Batman is up in the air, and it’s time to discuss what’s next for both the character and the actor. Heading into Justice League, expectations were high for Affleck’s third DCEU appearance in the cape and cowl. Unfortunately, the film has underperformed across the board, and its take on the Dark Knight hasn’t exactly been viewed as a highpoint by many in the critical community.

Today, we’re breaking down Bruce Wayne’s role in the DCEU so far, as well as the character’s future both on and off screen. Predicting what’s next is tricky, of course, especially given how much of the shared universe’s future was riding on Justice League being an unmitigated success. Just where the DCEU goes from here is very much up in the air at this point, but you can bet that no matter what Warner Bros. ultimately decides to do, Batman will be a cornerstone of their plans.

Related: What Future DC Movies Are Actually Coming Out?

Onscreen, the DCEU’s Caped Crusader has undergone a metamorphosis over the course of his three outings. How effective that transformation has been is a matter of personal preference, but it’s still brimming with potential. Offscreen, the situation is far murkier, and some tough questions will need to be answered in the coming months. We’re tackling all that and more as we take a look at Batman’s Uncertain Future In The DCEU.

The Batman we’ve seen so far

How Batfleck changed from Batman v Superman to Justice League Batmans Uncertain Future In The DCEU

While Batfleck’s brutal debut was roundly praised as one of the major strengths of Batman v Superman, fans couldn’t help but wonder if this ultra-violent take on the Caped Crusader was a step too far. But between the widely heard arguments of whether or not Batman should be branding and blowing up bad guys — should the Dark Knight ever be this dark? — a key aspect of Affleck’s performance went widely overlooked. Perhaps more so than any previous big screen iteration of the character, Batman rolled up his sleeves and did some good old fashioned detective work in BvS, showing off the brilliant (if paranoid) mind of Bruce Wayne in the process.

This isn’t meant as a knock on the other Batmen, of course. All the iterations had their strengths, and few were really hurt by the fact that they didn’t explore this aspect of the character. But that really wasn’t an option for a Batman that exists in a shared movie universe, because that side of the Caped Crusader — the World’s Greatest Detective, the man who’s always three steps ahead of his opponent, the master strategist who can outthink anyone and everyone — that’s the part of him that makes him worthy of being a Justice Leaguer. Despite his seemingly infinite wealth, resources, and combat training, when it comes time to fight the sort of otherworldly threats the League combats on a regular basis, without his brilliant mind, the Dark Knight is all but useless on the battlefield.

TLDR: if Batman isn’t the smartest man in the room, he has no place alongside the other members of the Justice League.

Ben Affleck as Batman in Justice League Batmans Uncertain Future In The DCEU

Unfortunately, while Affleck’s Dark Knight starts out his Justice League adventure attempting to crack the mysteries of the mother boxes and bringing the team together, the story puts his genius mind on the backburner after he comes up with the plan to bring Superman back from the dead. The second half of the film sees the Caped Crusader cracking jokes and shooting guns in the final battle — two decidedly anti-Batman activities — and renders him a non-factor in the team’s final showdown with Steppenwolf. To be fair, he does come up with something resembling a plan of attack when he strikes out on his own to distract the army of Parademons so that his teammates can get to Steppenwolf. But ultimately, his noble suicide mission merely delays his fellow Justice Leaguers because they’re compelled to swoop in and save his ass. The team ends up wasting valuable time that they could have spent getting to Darkseid’s uncle and saving the world from annihilation. Honestly, did Batman really expect them to just let him die?

To date, the DCEU Batman has morphed from an irrational rage monster into a wisecracking, aging hero that’s perpetually two seconds away from going full Murtaugh with an “I’m getting too old for this s***.” He’s also been relegated to the sidelines in both of the climactic battles he’s appeared in, toting a firearm that contributes very little in the grand scheme of things in both BvS and Justice League. Most importantly, the character’s inner polymath has only really been hinted at in this shared universe, and that cannot continue.

Page 2: Is Ben Affleck The Batman We Need Right Now?

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