There are a lot of reasons to say that we currently live in crazy times. One (very small) reason is that things that reasonable, educated people thought weren’t possible end up being very possible. One of those things was the fan campaign for Warner Bros. to release the Snyder Cut of Justice League. Even we thought that the best shot we had of seeing that film was via a documentary about it. Yet, thanks to the unique combination of HBO Max being an upcoming contender in the Streaming Wars and the COVID-19 outbreak, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is coming. So now, when stories like Michael Keaton being in talks to play Batman again break, we take them a little more seriously. However, in response to recent rumors from “scooper” folks’ aunts and friends, Ben Affleck is almost certainly not coming back to play Batman for HBO Max and the “Snyderverse.”
Since rumors of Affleck’s departure from the role started to circulate, the rumor that he would return to the role soon followed. Most recently, the rumor began to circulate that HBO Max is all-in on the DC Snyderverse, so much so they’d convinced Ben Affleck into coming back to play Batman. While very improbable, this is not exactly impossible. So, there is a small chance (especially in this time of uncertainty for every industry) that HBO Max and Affleck worked out some kind of deal. We’ll circle back to this later.
With Matt Reeves’ The Batman on the way, and Robert Pattinson playing the (not necessarily a) hero, it doesn’t make sense for Ben Affleck to return in a major way. Doubly so given the actor’s own public statements about why he left the role.
Why Ben Affleck Likely Not Coming Back to Play Batman for HBO Max
Image via Warner Bros.
We all know actors aren’t necessarily truthtellers while on a press tour for a film, especially when it comes to behind-the-scenes business. Yet, during the press tour for his movie The Way Back, the recently sober in real life actor explained the toll the job took on him. He told reporters that a friend warned him that if directing his version of The Batman was like what he went through on Justice League he’d drink himself to death. In a later video from GQ, Affleck says that he “lost” his “passion” for the character and the film. He said that the person making a Batman movie should feel like “it’s their wildest dream come true,” and it was not his wildest dream.
Reading between the lines, we should note how he says he loved working on Batman v. Superman but not Justice League. Geoff Johns, a longtime DC Comics veteran, and Zack Snyder both created the DC Extended Universe or the films with a shared continuity. Affleck has nothing but praise for Snyder’s vision of the character. Yet, his Bruce Wayne is tormented, dark, and dealing with his inadequacy as a crimefighter given his age and metahumans’ arrival. It’s possible Affleck and Johns butted heads over that vision. It’s also possible that the fictional problems of Bruce Wayne exacerbated the real-world problems Ben Affleck went through. Either way, it doesn’t make sense for Affleck to return. He’s currently working on a number of projects as an actor, director, and (for The Last Duel) writer.
Of course, it is remotely possible that Affleck does return, especially if it’s just for a cameo. (He did a last-minute cameo in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot that amounted to a day’s work.)
How Some of These ‘Scoopers’ Work
Image via both Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics
Before writing for Comic Years, I worked as a reporter covering cops, politics, the wars, and culture. I quickly learned that sources have their own reasons for talking to us, and that’s true for entertainment reporting as well. A reporter is only as good as their sources. Folks at the trades like The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, TheWrap.com, and Deadline.com work at institutions with traditional journalistic standards. Some other outlets and freelance scoopers can dig up real stories, if they are willing to do the work.
Others, however, merely make educated guesses based on an understanding of how the business works. They will post vague reports about films that anyone could reasonably suspect studios discussed.
Let me give you an example:
I can report right here that, according to “my sources,” both Marvel and DC are each developing a series of films based on characters never adapted for film, with some shared continuity.
Now, in this case, my sources are a loose general knowledge of how these major movie studios view superhero properties. If Warner Bros. and Disney want to keep superhero stories popular with film audiences, they can’t give us reboot after reboot of the same character. (Then, again, maybe they can, see: Spider-Man and Batman.) Of course, scoopers don’t usually keep their reports so vague or obvious. Rather, they speculate about which characters are likely to appear on screen based on what we already know. It’s a safe bet that if they make a Flashpoint movie that includes the Thomas Wayne Batman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan will play him.
I can report that “my sources” tell me that Warner Bros. discussed bringing John Stewart into the forthcoming HBO Max Green Lantern series.
Image via DC Comics
In this case, my sources are the knowledge that a Green Lantern series is in development for HBO Max and the fact that both Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. are keen to present a more racially and culturally diverse roster of superheroes. Again, I possess zero firsthand knowledge of this, but it’s something that any educated guesser could come up with and, possibly, be true. (And that’s if they care about it possibly being true at all.) Do enough of these kind of “reports,” and you end up nailing a few based on the law of averages alone.
When it comes to Ben Affleck not coming back to play Batman, especially for just HBO Max, I am making one of these educated guesses. Given what we know about how protective DC and WB are about Batman, they probably wouldn’t want to have multiple A-listers playing the Dark Knight. While future examination of the multiverse is in the cards, it’s unlikely that they’d be okay with two A-list Batman franchises going at the same time. Also, the actor seems like he’s well and truly done with the role. Yet, there are scoopers who swear it’s a done deal, and there are others who say not a chance. It’s up to you to figure out what you believe, and how much weight to give the rumor.
Still, recent years proved that nothing is impossible. They got Harrison Ford back for two new Star Wars films in his late 70s! No one can say that Ben Affleck will never don the Batsuit or play Bruce Wayne again. But the smart money says not anytime soon.
What do you think? Do you agree that Ben Affleck is likely not coming back to play Batman for HBO Max? Let us know your educated guesses and wild hopes in the comments below.
Featured image via Warner Bros.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.