Ben Affleck scoring the role of Batman back in 2013 sent shockwaves through Hollywood. It deservedly caused a major stir and considerable excitement around both the actor and character. It’s been a rocky ride for him as the Caped Crusader ever since then, to say the least. But all is not lost with this casting and the ride doesn’t look over quite yet. We have recent news that Affleck will now return to Gotham City in a new Batman series on HBO Max.
This news comes on the heels of word that the new series would pit Ben Affleck’s Batman against Jared Leto’s Joker on the small screen. At the time, it was only speculation about these actors and characters re-upping for a show, but now it’s confirmed that Affleck signed the deal to star in the series.
Again, to say Ben Affleck has been on a Batman roller coaster ride is an understatement. He made his debut as Bruce Wayne in the terribly-titled and clunky Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which pretty much dumpstered with critics. He followed it up with Justice League which really wasn’t any better (Zack Snyder cuts aside). It was becoming increasingly tough to get excited about the character (and universe’s) trajectory.
After that second film and an alcohol relapse in 2017, it really looked like the end of the line for Ben Affleck under the cowl. He left the role altogether with no apparent intentions of returning. He didn’t stop acting mind you, he just took different roles. He played a recovering alcoholic military vet on a mission of redemption in Netflix’s Triple Frontier, as well as a recovering alcoholic basketball coach on a mission of redemption in The Way Back (notice a theme?). So it wasn’t that the screen wasn’t for him, just the mask and cape.
Adding even more pessimism around continuity in the Ben Affleck DC story arc with the original Justice League casting was the announcement that Robert Pattison would pick up the mantle in the next iteration, starring in The Batman. From early trailers, Matt Reeves’ take on the character was incredibly divergent from the DCU version, much darker and grittier. It really did look like an about-face for Batman, moving Ben Affleck to the sidelines.
But things started to turn around back in August when Vanity Fair announced Ben Affleck would have a role in The Flash. Considering that the universe’s movies continue to truck on, it was going to be a little weird to have to cast Batman in a new role. And now we see that’s only picked up the momentum with this latest HBO Max series announcement.
If it’s getting confusing about who is playing who in the world of comic book movies and shows, don’t worry you aren’t the only one. We’ll now have overlapping Batmans as well as overlapping Jokers (Jared Leto, Joaquin Phoenix) and multiple iterations of the characters happening on both the big and small screen.
I will say, considering how Affleck originally exited the DC Universe, I am more than a little surprised to see him back in possibly an extended role through a multi-episode arc, but I’m also here for it. Currently, no other casting announcements or storylines are available for this new venture, but we can dream on some of the possibilities. Here’s to hoping they turn the character and the universe around just a bit.