Warner Bros. is developing a plan to transition from Ben Affleck as Batman to another actor in the role, possibly as soon as filming begins on the first post-Justice League film to feature the popular DC Comics superhero.
According to a report from The Hollywood Reporter, despite studio chief Toby Emmerich's recent assurance that "Ben is our Batman... We want to keep him in the cowl as long as we can," plans are in play to "gracefully" shift to a new actor.
This news comes as little surprise, as Affleck's dissatisfaction with the role has been a topic of discussion for months. Not only did Affleck step out of the directing role for his first solo outing as the hero, incoming director Matt Reeves decided to scrap Affleck's script for the film when he came on board, further pushing back production on the already delayed film. Adding to these issues is what appears to be growing concern on Warner Bros.' part about the prospect of a 50-plus year old Affleck portraying the Dark Knight by the time the planned second and third films in Reeves' trilogy rolls around.
Whether Warner Bros. will replace Affleck as Bruce Wayne, or if the studio will find an in-story way of changing the identity of the man under the mask remains unknown at this point. The character's source material certainly offers plenty of guidance for the latter option, having already placed characters like Dick Grayson (Nightwing), Damian Wayne (Robin) and others in the role. However, each of those heroes had the benefit of years' worth of stories for fans to grow accustomed to them before having them step up to the plate as the Dark Knight. If Warner Bros, Affleck and Reeves are serious about transitioning to a new actor sooner than later, they won't have the same luxury, making a legacy character development much more difficult to successfully pull off.
With Affleck currently headed to San Diego to take part in the studio's major Hall H presentation at Comic-Con International to promote Justice League, it's unlikely we'll hear any official word about this any time soon, though more rumors are sure to surface in the weeks ahead.
Affleck reprises his role as Batman on Nov. 17 in Justice League. He’ll next be seen in The Batman (maybe), alongside Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and, at least last we knew, Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke.