In a surprising turn of events, Warner Bros. announced on February 23 that War For The Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves will produce and direct the next Batman solo movie, now that Ben Affleck is no longer directing.
During an October interview to promote The Accountant, Ben Affleck revealed some details about his upcoming Batman solo film. He confirmed rumors that have been floating around for the past two years, since word surfaced that he would direct a solo Batman film for Warner Bros. Affleck first played Batman/Bruce Wayne in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, had a cameo in Suicide Squad and will reprise the role in 2017’s Justice League.
While promoting Live By Night in January, Affleck suddenly revealed that there is still no finished script for the movie. He even told The Guardian that if the script isn’t perfect, he won’t even make it at all.
“That’s the idea. But it’s not a set thing and there’s no script,” Affleck told the Guardian. “If it doesn’t come together in a way I think is really great I’m not going to do it.”
Here’s what we know so far about Affleck’s film. It doesn’t have a release date, but is expected to come in 2018 or 2019. Although based on Affleck’s most recent comments, 2019 seems more likely.
1. Matt Reeves Is Now Directing the Movie After Affleck Dropped Out
On January 30, Variety reported that Affleck will no longer direct the film, since he wants to focus on playing Batman. Warner Bros. quickly turned to Reeves, who earned acclaim in 2014 for directing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and is finishing up 2017’s War. On February 23, the studio announced that Reeves signed on to direct and produce. Surprisingly, the press release didn’t mention Affleck at all.
“I have loved the Batman story since I was a child. He is such an iconic and compelling character, and one that resonates with me deeply. I am incredibly honored and excited to be working with Warner Bros. to bring an epic and emotional new take on the Caped Crusader to the big screen,” Reeves said in a press release.
No firm release date has been set for the film.
In an Associated Press interview, Affleck was asked to confirm rumors that the film is going to be called The Batman. He said yes, adding, “At least, that’s what we’re going with now.” Affleck added that it could change, so if you are holding out for a more exciting title, there is still hope.
As for anything else about the film, Affleck would only say that the script “is going well” and he’s really excited about it.
Affleck’s comments confirmed a rumor reported by Latino Review in June 2014 that the film’s working title is The Batman. Aside from that, no plot details have been officially released by the studio.
Adding “the” in front of Batman is a way to embrace the character’s past. When he was first introduced, he was referred to as “The Batman” and has been referred to that periodically ever since. There was even an animated series that ran from 2004 to 2008 simply dubbed The Batman.
2. Affleck Is Writing the Script with DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns
In July 2015, Deadline confirmed that Affleck will direct the film and is co-writing with DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. Outside of the comics, Johns has worked on the CW TV series Supergirl, Arrow and The Flash.
Johns has been taking an increasingly important role in the entire DC Extended Universe films after the negative reaction Batman v Superman met. In May 2016, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that he will oversee a new label called DC Films with executive Jon Berg. Suicide Squad, which was also met with mixed-to-negative reviews, was too far along for Johns’ impact to be felt on the final project, although he did work on it in post-production, THR reported.
“Mistakenly in the past I think the studio has said, ‘Oh, DC films are gritty and dark and that’s what makes them different.’ That couldn’t be more wrong,” Johns told the Wall Street Journal in September. “It’s a hopeful and optimistic view of life. Even Batman has a glimmer of that in him. If he didn’t think he’d make tomorrow better, he’d stop.”
Johns is also hoping to apply the lessons of his comics work to the movies. “We’re trying to take a really hard look at everything to make sure we stay true to the characters and tell stories that celebrate them,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
3. Slade Wilson/Deathstroke Will be the Film’s Villain, Played by Joe Manganiello
In late August, Affleck teased on his Twitter page that Slade Wilson, the assassin also known as Deathstroke, would be featured in the new film. Just days later, The Wall Street Journal reported that Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello won the role.
It’s not clear if Deathstroke will be the main villain, but the character’s extraordinary origin story is more than enough for one movie. The character debuted as an adversary for the Teen Titans. While he was a member of the Army, he was experimented on, becoming a supersoldier with great intelligence, strength and marksmanship. He sought revenge after his son was killed.
4. ‘Big Hero 6’ Star Ryan Potter Made a Video to Prove He Could Play Robin
We don’t know if Robin will appear in the film, but Big Hero 6 voice actor Ryan Potter knows who could play him. In early September, he posted a video that went viral, showing himself in a choreographed fight as Tim Drake, the third Robin.
We do know that in the DC Extended Universe, Batman v Superman begins some time after the Joke killed a Robin. We don’t know if this Robin was Jason Todd or if The Batman will show how a Robin was killed.
In an interview with IGN, seen below, Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder said that a Robin was killed by the Joker 10 years before the events in the film.
However, Suicide Squad appears to have a conflict with that, as IGN pointed out. A text introduction for Harley Quinn showed that she was partly responsible for Robin’s death. In the comics, Jason Todd was killed years before Harley even made her debut in Batman: The Animated Series. That doesn’t mean that Harley couldn’t be involved in the movies, but it would mean that Harley had been hanging around the Joker for a decade.
5. Affleck Doesn’t Want ‘The Batman’ to be Based on a Comic Book Storyline
During Batman v Superman‘s Mexico City premiere, Affleck told an interviewer that his solo Batman movie would not be based on a comics storyline. Instead, he would follow Snyder’s lead by taking ideas from the comics and putting them together for an original story.
“I would probably do in some ways what Zack [Snyder] did with [Batman v Superman], which is to borrow certain things from the great comic books, but create an original story around it,” Affleck said. “I wouldn’t want fans to already know the story and be familiar with it, but I would borrow — steal — great things that have been done before in the comics.”
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said in September that Affleck’s film is a “year and a half out.”