The year-long drumbeat of rumors about Ben Affleck's imminent departure from the DC Extended Universe has grown even louder with a new report that indicates director Matt Reeves' The Batman will center on a younger Dark Knight.
In its overview of the recent management changes at DC Entertainment, The Hollywood Reporter notes that over Memorial Day weekend Reeves turned in the first act of his screenplay for this film, which is said to feature a "younger caped crusader." The outlet concludes that it's "unlikely" Affleck will return to the role.
The story arrives on the heels of another report that renewed persistent speculation that Reeves' Batman solo movie would introduce a new actor as Gotham City's protector. Although buried deep within a larger article, THR's reporting reflects actual progress on the project.
Rumors that Affleck was no longer interested in playing the Dark Knight first surfaced in February 2017, shortly after it was announced he'd no longer direct and co-write The Batman. Despite an assurance by Reeves that Affleck would return as Bruce Wayne, the buzz grew until, on the even of Warner Bros.' presentation at Comic-Con International 2017, a report emerged that the studio was coming up with a plan to "gracefully" bring another actor into the role. Affleck pushed back in Hall H, proclaiming, “Let me be very clear, I am the luckiest guy in the world, Batman is the coolest fucking part in any universe.”
Nevertheless, rumors persisted, and even intensified following the disappointing commercial and critical performance of Justice League. It was reported in December that Affleck is expected to appear in Flashpoint, which centers on Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen, but wouldn't likely reprise the role in Reeves' film. Of course, Flashpoint has since undergone its own shakeups, with its title reverting to The Flash, and it's unclear whether there are still roles in the film for Batman and the other members of the Justice League.