It would appear that the long-standing rumours that Ben Affleck is hanging up the bat-cowl have now been confirmed. Industry site Deadline reported that Warner Bros. have pencilled in the next solo Batman film – which is to be entitled ‘The Batman‘ – for the summer of 2021 with Matt Reeves still in the director’s chair but Ben Affleck no longer the star. Reeves became involved when Affleck, who was due to pull double-duty as lead and director stepped away from helming the project. At the time, he remained attached to star, but speculation grew that the long-gestating project might get a more extensive overhaul as it got pushed further and further back.
Affleck starred as Bruce Wayne / Batman in Dawn of Justice: Batman vs Superman and Justice League and there was a cameo appearance in Suicide Squad but it looks as if the Reeves film might tell a story of a younger Bruce Wayne into which it would be more difficult to fit Affleck. Affleck retweeted the Deadline story, seemingly confirming its accuracy. Reeves has described the film as a ‘noir’ Batman story with a rogues’ gallery of multiple villains. What the wider implications are for efforts to coalesce a more interconnected DC universe (as Marvel have mastered) is unclear as the modern Superman / Man of Steel movies appear not to have worked as well as hoped and the recent Aquaman kept its distance from the other elements of DC superheroes. It was a huge box-office success but received largely mixed-to-negative reviews. Critically, the best-received modern DC movie has been Wonder Woman, the sequel to which is entitled Wonder Woman: 1984 and will be released next year.
Also on the slate are The Joker for which Joaquin Phoenix takes the iconic title role in another re-imagining of the character. It is due in October of this year. Early next year will see Birds of Prey (aka …And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) which is due February 2020 and for which a teaser trailer has just hit featuring Margot Robbie’s return as said Harley Quinn alongside the likes of Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain, Ewan McGregor as the villain Black Mask, and Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya. It is not known whether Jared Leto, who played the Joker alongside Robbie in Suicide Squad will appear or not. Robbie will also appear in the Suicide Squad sequel for which James Gunn is being courted after his controversial departure from Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. There’s still some time as that film is set for a August 2021 release.