Ben Affleck to Play Batman in Batman/Superman Film, Release Date Set

Oscar-winner Ben Affleck will play the Dark Knight in the upcoming film, pairing iconic DC Comics heroes Batman and Superman, as announced by Warner Bros. Thursday and reported by both Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter.

Additionally, Warner Bros. has set a release date for the still-untitled film of July 17, 2015. That puts it more than two months after Marvel Studios' "Avengers: Age of Ultron," scheduled for May 1, 2015.

The film was already known to reunite the "Man of Steel" team of director Zack Snyder, screenwriter David S. Goyer and star Henry Cavill, but the Warner Bros. press release announcing the news also established Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White) and Diane Lane (Martha Kent) as returning to the franchise.

"We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics' most enduringly popular Super Heroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some," Greg Silverman, Warner Bros. president, creative development and worldwide production, said in the press release. "His outstanding career is a testament to his talent and we know he and Zack will bring new dimension to the duality of this character."

Affleck has a history with comic book heroes -- he starred in the 2003 "Daredevil" film, and played George Reeves, the Superman of the 1950s TV series, in 2006's "Hollywoodland." Rumors circulated last year that Affleck was in talks to direct a "Justice League" movie, but were subsequently refuted.

Christian Bale, the previous on-screen Batman, was not expected to return to the role following last year's "The Dark Knight Rises." The press release states Affleck and Snyder "will create an entirely new incarnation of the character."

"Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry's Superman," Snyder said in the press release. "He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can't wait to work with him."

The film, expected to begin shooting in 2014, was announced last month at Comic-Con International in San Diego as a follow-up to this summer's "Man of Steel," which has grossed nearly $650 million in worldwide box office.

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