In a move that’s been rumored for years but now appears to be officially confirmed, Ben Affleck has vacated the title role in The Batman, Warner Bros. Pictures’ upcoming solo feature written and directed by Matt Reeves.
After Reeves hinted that the studio was targeting a 2021 premiere for The Batman, that news was also confirmed, with Deadline reporting that the studio has set June 25, 2021, as the release date for the film. The same report indicated that Affleck will not be reprising the role he played in the studio’s DC Extended Universe films Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League, and (briefly) Suicide Squad.
Affleck confirmed the report, sharing the article that confirmed the release date and his departure from the project on social media. Later, Affleck explained his decision to hang up his cape and cowl on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
“You know I tried to direct a version of it and worked with a really good screenwriter, but just kind of couldn’t come up with a version. Couldn’t crack it,” Affleck said. “So I thought it was time to let someone else take a shot at it, and they got some really good people.”
Kimmel retired Affleck’s Batman costume in a mock ceremony by sending it to the studio rafters while Affleck looked directly into the camera and said, “I’m not Batman,” ending his time as the caped crusader for good.
Affleck’s departure caps a tumultuous relationship with the Dark Knight’s next solo feature — the first since Christopher Nolan concluded his trilogy with 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises — which saw him first attached as a director on the film and co-writer with DC Comics veteran Geoff Johns. He later exited the director’s chair but was expected to remain on as the film’s star, only to have that become uncertain as time went on and his calendar got progressively busier.
Reeves recently indicated that the film will focus on Batman’s role as one of the world’s greatest detectives, and follow him through the investigation of a case that puts him in contact with many of his classic foes. True Blood actor Joe Manganiello has been cast as one of the film’s primary villains, playing the role of the mercenary Deathstroke.
At the moment, the film’s June 25, 2021, premiere doesn’t compete with anything else that weekend. The studio is likely hoping to capitalize on the goodwill that Aquaman has brought it recently and earmark a weekend in advance of any dates Marvel Studios attempts to claim. The only films currently expected to premiere that month are the third Jurassic World movie and an unidentified Pixar animated feature — neither of which have been officially confirmed or gone into production at this point.
Updated on February 15, 2019: Added comments from Ben Affleck regarding his departure.
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