Comics on Film: Are We About to Get a New 'Batman' Actor?

Comics on Film: Are We About to Get a New 'Batman' Actor?

Sep 14, 2018

Batman is eternal.

That much is certain. Whatever happens behind the scenes of the stories being told for the character – regardless of the medium – will likely never diminish the public adoration that he’s enjoyed for the better part of a century now. Still, when dealing with telling Batman stories particularly in live-action, the fact of the matter is that the timeless icon has to be embodied by a real person.

That always opens up the possibilities of human foibles and flaws interfering, somehow, with the depiction of the Dark Knight on film or television.

Warner Bros. could be at a turning point in the very near future when it comes to Batman on the silver screen, and even though we may be in for a change in the future, again: Batman is eternal. Batman’s future on film is never a question of if, but when. Still, let’s take a look at what’s going on with the Dark Knight.

 

Insurance and ‘The Batman’

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Movie studios take many major steps to ensure that the large, complicated productions of their tentpole films will come in on time with as little risk as possible, which is why they often take out different kinds of insurance on actors, production personnel, facilities, equipment, etc. to protect themselves from potentially serious financial repercussions if something goes wrong.

It’s that insurance which could potentially lead to a major shift for the next Batman film from the very top. According to a recent piece in The Wrap, insurance costs surrounding current Batman incumbent actor Ben Affleck could push the performer out of the role for a forthcoming production, whether it’s Matt Reeves’ in-development project or some other DC effort that could call for some kind of appearance from his character.

It’s unnecessary to get into specifics, and Comics on Film generally abhors gossip. Be that as it may, Mr. Affleck is a man who, by his own admission, has struggled with issues relating to substance abuse, and it appears as though he has to contend with those issues again. We wish Mr. Affleck all the best, but the fact is that what’s happening with him will likely have a pretty big impact on the future of Batman on film.

 

Recast?

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Recasting is never an optimal option for dealing with the changing circumstances of a performer. Audiences notice the pretty major distraction that recasting a previously seen character can create, and it puts a little too much attention on the business side of film as opposed to the side that studios primarily want you to see: the story. While there are certainly examples out there of positive recasting happening in comics movies, like Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk or Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth, for instance – drawing attention to it should be a last resort.

Recasting a character as popular and prominent as Batman will stick out like a sore thumb no matter how gently it may be handled, and it’s a possibility that WB has likely already prepared for. After all, speculation surrounding the possible exit by Affleck from the role has been bandied about since well before Justice League even hit theaters last year, and while the actor himself tried to quash those rumors when appearing at Comic-Con International to promote the DC team-up film, they’ve persisted.

We still don’t know anything concrete about Reeves’ film, and it’s also unknown if or when Batman could show up somehow in future DC shared world films like Aquaman, Shazam!, Wonder Woman 1984, or 2020’s Green Lantern Corps. The ideal scenario, of course, is to introduce a new Batman in a Batman-specific film, most especially if it’s going to be connected to the larger world first established by Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which WB seems to be continuing on with, if materials related to 2019’s releases are any indication.

 

The Future

Justice League

Again, Batman is eternal. We don’t know exactly how we will see him again in the future, but you can be 100% certain that he will show up again on film in the relatively near future. While the circumstances surrounding the character’s future appearances are less than ideal as they currently stand, much like the character’s history, he’s come back from much worse.

He was beaten down by an over-reliance on camp in both comics and on television, and came roaring back as a dark avenger of the night at the hands of Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, Sam Hamm and Tim Burton. He was put on ice after the lackluster Batman & Robin in 1997, and came back with a vengeance at the hands of Christopher Nolan in Batman Begins.

Batman has never known how to stay down, and there’s no reason to think this bump in the road will end up anywhere else but with the return of DC Comics’ most popular icon.


Chris Clow is a comics expert/former retailer, and pop culture critic/commentator. He hosts two podcasts: Discovery Debrief: A Star Trek Podcast and Comics on Consoles. Find his column "Comics on Film" weekly at Movies.com, and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

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