EXCLUSIVE: WB Has Soured On Affleck, And Is THE BATMAN Part of The Shared Universe?
It’s really rather incredible that we’re still asking questions about The Batman. The development of this film could be a movie all on its own (Quick! Someone get Jon Schnepp on the line for another “What Happened?” documentary!). I’m working on a comprehensive report, complete with insider intel, that will be available later this week. It’ll detail the game of Bat & Mouse we’ve all unwittingly been playing with Ben Affleck, Warner Bros., and now Matt Reeves, for the last three years. For now, though, let’s address the latest rumor going around.
The latest hot rumor about The Batman actually comes courtesy of my good friends over at Batman-on-Film. I’ve got a great relationship with Bill “Jett” Ramey, and I think the world of BOF. So when I read the report, I didn’t know what to think. As I wrote about two months ago, I was told- in no uncertain terms- that The Batman was going to be a part of the shared DC Universe, and not some sort of disconnected off-shoot like that Joker movie Todd Phillips is developing.
I trust Bill, and his reports on Justice League echoed my own– and we were both ultimately vindicated after months of mudslinging from fans when everyone saw we were right about the extensive overhaul of the film. So I know he gets his hands on reliable intel. And yet, since even he was careful to label it a rumor and not an outright scoop, I thought I’d better do some digging myself. I reached out to someone I trust over at Warner Bros., and here’s what they had to say:
“None of these Batman rumors are true. Reeves Batman is DC films.”
Wow. Short and sweet. I dig it.
But I pressed a bit further, to make sure we were on the same page. I asked, specifically, if this meant The Batman was part of the same continuity as the rest of the already-established shared universe.
“Batman is DC proper. Reeves’ Batman is connected. Just its own story.”
And there it is. That highlighted part at the end. I think that’s where the confusion lies. Because this isn’t the first time a rumor like this has sprung up. Last year, Reeves was quoted as saying, “When they approached me what they said was, ‘Look it’s a stand alone, this isn’t part of the Extended Universe.’” He would then later clarify things in a series of tweets:
In my comments from a while back about not being part of the DCEU, I was talking about The Batman being a story specifically about Batman…
— Matt Reeves (@mattreevesLA) August 24, 2017
…not about the others in the Universe. That it wouldn’t be filled with cameos servicing other stories — that it would be a BATMAN story.
— Matt Reeves (@mattreevesLA) August 24, 2017
In many ways, it comes down to this distinction where The Batman will technically be part of the shared universe, yet the story will be so self-contained that it won’t even matter if it is or not. Reeves is approaching the story in such a way that Batman is the total focus. What’ll tie it to the DCU are the actors. Regardless of whether or not Affleck stays (more on that in a moment), the fact that Bruce Wayne/Batman will have an Alfred played by Jeremy Irons and a Commissioner Gordon played by J.K. Simmons. Those actors will likely be the only solid connection Reeves allows The Batman to have to the DCU.
The director’s insistence on making Batman the sole focus is why even people behind-the-scenes are confused about the film’s continuity. They hear it’s “its own story” and they think it must be an offshoot. An understandable mix-up.
In reality, it all falls in line with what Geoff Johns and Diane Nelson told Vulture a few months back- about how they were going to loosen the connections between their DC films. They pointed to Wonder Woman as an example of how things are going to be, moving forward. That film, aside from a few nods to what came before it (Batman v Superman) and where things were heading (Justice League) was really a standalone story about Diana.
On the connections moving forward:
“They’re are in the same box. There just won’t be many winks. Not in Aquaman for sure. Or Batman.”
As for the latest in the Will They?/Won’t They? romance between Ben Affleck and Warner Bros., as it pertains to his future as Batman, here’s what I’ve got for you.
It’s been an enormous tug-of-war between both parties (Affleck and The Studio) since 2016. More often than not, the studio has pulled out all of the stops to try and convince him to stick around. Yet there have also been times when he’s been tempted to stick around and finish his contractual obligations while they’d be happy to see him take a hike.
I’m told that now, as of this writing, the studio is officially over Affleck.
I was asking my source for any updates regarding what I wrote a couple of months back- namely “Is Gyllenhaal officially our next Batman yet?”
“Gyllenhaal is probably Batman. Affleck is not out of it yet. That’s the thing, he still has a contract. But the studio is sour on him. If Ben rolls, Jake is in. Kind of a weird web. These guys both know they control each other’s destiny.”
Gee, that sounds like a wonderful work environment, doesn’t it? You get the sense that if we ever see Affleck in the cowl again, it’ll be strictly to satisfy that contract- and explicitly to give Affleck’s tenure some sort of closure. That makes it way more likely it’ll happen either in Suicide Squad 2 (directed, coincidentally, by his The Accountant collaborator, Gavin O’Connor) or in Flashpoint (if that even proceeds in its current form), and not in The Batman.
Regardless, we’re inching towards the moment when Affleck officially vacates the batcave and Jeremy Irons pulls out a chair for the next Bruce Wayne.
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Editor-In-Chief and Co-Founder of Revenge of The Fans. Previously, he's written for Latino-Review, IGN, Moviehole, and The Splash Report. He's also the host of the top-rated show The Fanboy Podcast and the co-host of The Revengers Podcast. E-Mail: MFR@RevengeOfTheFans.com | Twitter: @I_AM_MFR