DC Comics’ Dark Knight has a long and successful history in films and television, and now he’s poised to return to the big screen in The Batman, the upcoming solo feature set in Warner Bros. Pictures’ cinematic universe of DC superheroes and villains.
Set to be directed by Cloverfield and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes filmmaker Matt Reeves from a script penned by Reeves, The Batman will have Ben Affleck reprise his starring role as Bruce Wayne and his costumed alter ego from Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Jeremy Irons is also expected to reprise his role as Alfred Pennyworth, along with JK Simmons doing the same for his Justice League role as Commissioner James Gordon. True Blood actor Joe Manganiello will play the film’s villain, the mercenary known as Deathstroke.
There’s still no official release date set for The Batman at this point, but here’s everything else we know about the movie so far.
The Batman reportedly won’t be part of DC’s Extended Universe
Director Matt Reeves revealed that The Batman won’t be part of the DC Extended Universe, as part of a recent interview on KCRW radio.
“I have a vision for a way to do something with that character that feels like it resonates with me personally, and a perspective that can grow out into other things,” Reeves said during the interview. “When they [Warner Bros.] approached me, what they said was, ‘Look, it’s a standalone, it’s not part of the extended universe.’”
Given the fact that Ben Affleck will appear in the upcoming Justice League film, it’s likely that what the director means that The Batman will operate as a standalone film and won’t be heavily influenced by other DC franchises. That means it won’t involve many guest stars from the Extended Universe, and won’t be a major part of future Extended Universe plot points.
A troubled origin story
First announced back in 2014, the project that would eventually become The Batman initially had Affleck attached to direct, produce, co-write and star in the film, sharing script duties with longtime DC Comics author and DC Films co-chairman Geoff Johns. All seemed well and good with the project until the first reactions to Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice (in which Affleck made his debut as Batman) began trickling in — many of them negative.
Affleck’s experience with the notoriously ill-received Batman V. Superman (which resulted in the interview that spawned the “Sad Affleck” meme) soon appeared to sour his relationship with the solo feature, and he announced his exit from the director’s chair in January 2017. Matt Reeves was named the new director on the film a month later, and in July 2017, he confirmed that he plans to write a new script for the film better suited to his vision for the Dark Knight.
The troubles weren’t over for The Batman, though, as a report was published just a week later indicating that Affleck could be on his way out as Bruce Wayne and the studio was looking for a way to “usher out Affleck’s Batman gracefully.” That report was published on the second day of 2017’s San Diego Comic-Con, prompting Affleck to address it during Warner Bros. Pictures’ movie panel two days later.
“Let me be very clear: I am the luckiest guy in the world,” said Affleck when asked about the report during the show’s Justice League panel (via CNN). “Batman is the coolest part in any universe — DC, Marvel. It’s incredible. … I’m so thrilled to do it.”
“I know there was a misconception that because I didn’t direct it that I wasn’t enthusiastic about it, [but] it’s f—ing amazing,” he continued. “And I still can’t believe I’ve done two films and have this great history with this studio.”
Given that Affleck’s statement isn’t a clear-cut rejection of the report or confirmation that he’ll continue on in the role, we’ll likely have to wait until after the dust settles on Justice League to know more about the Dark Knight’s future.
What’s in a title?
Ben Affleck first revealed the title of The Batman during an October 2016 interview promoting his action film The Accountant.
Although he indicated that this was the working title for the film and still subject to change, the title was well-received by the public — particularly after the absurdly long title of Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice became the subject of so much criticism.
The title appears to have stuck, though, and remains the current, official title for the movie.
The big bad
The Dark Knight has a memorable rogues gallery, but the villain he’ll face off against in The Batman isn’t one that’s appeared in past films.
In August 2016, Affleck — who was still the director on the film at that time — posted a video on Twitter featuring an unknown actor in costume as Slade Wilson, the lethal DC Comics mercenary known as Deathstroke. The video wasn’t accompanied by a caption or any context, so speculation ran wild about the potential role for the villain in Justice League or the Batman solo movie (which had yet to receive a title).
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) August 29, 2016
Created by celebrated comics veterans Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, Deathstroke debuted in a 1980 issue of New Teen Titans and would become one of the most dangerous foes of both that superhero team and the entirety of the DC Comics hero world. Slade Wilson is responsible for the deaths of hundreds (if not thousands) of people as the mercenary Deathstroke, and was subjected to a secret military experiment that gave him enhanced strength, agility, and other attributes. A tactical genius with fighting skills that rival those of Batman, Deathstroke has battled — and occasionally defeated — many of DC Comics’ most prominent heroes over the years.
Just a few weeks after Affleck posted his video, DC Films co-chairman and longtime DC Comics writer Geoff Johns confirmed that Deathstroke would indeed be the villain of Batman’s solo movie. He also confirmed the identity of the actor under the mask in that video: True Blood actor Joe Manganiello.
What isn’t know at this point, however, is whether Manganiello will make his debut as Deathstroke in Justice League or later in The Batman, which still doesn’t have an official release date set on Warner Bros. Pictures’ movie calendar.
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