One of the most unfortunate casualties of the SnyderVerse erasure has been, without a doubt, Ben Affleck’s Batman. Ever since his conception, the character has been treated as something of an afterthought – perhaps it might have to do with him being one of the only characters in the DCEU without a solo film.
All that said, “Batfleck,” as fans have dubbed Affleck’s rendition of the Caped Crusader, has been a divisive fan favourite since day one. While his trigger-happy willingness to break Batman’s most essential rule is not something fans can easily ignore, the rest of his portrayal has been one of the best versions of the Dark Knight on live-action so far.
Following the drastic restructuring of the DCEU – not to mention the immense success of The Batman – it seems like there was no place for the Batfleck in the future of the DCEU. That is until we learned that he will be coming back for at least two pivotal films in the franchise.
What’s even better about this news is that they might come together with an announcement that many fans have hoped to hear since learning that the DCEU’s Bruce Wayne would be an older version of the character: he might become the Bruce Wayne from Batman Beyond in this cinematic universe.
As many fans will surely know, comic books’ chronology can be a touchy and often complicated subject. To solve this issue, many writers appeal to the “multiple universes” theory – and that has also been the most common practice in modern live-action superhero flicks.
Many aspects of the original Batfleck in Batman v Superman seem to draw inspiration from The Dark Knight Returns, including the allusions to a previous Robin who – presumably – died in the line of duty, killed by the Joker.
Batman Beyond and The Dark Knight Returns happen on two vastly different timelines within the DC comics universe. However, it seems as if Zack Snyder intentionally combined these two chronologies into a single one with his Snyderverse – leaving the door open for Batman’s legacy to continue in two distinct paths.
One thing worth noting, though, is that we know for a fact that the Joker is alive in the mainline DCEU, thanks to Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Jared Leto’s Joker is still alive and well, which means that, at the very least, that would be something that contradicts the narrative of the original Batman Beyond animated series, where the Joker has long been dead when the show begins.
A movie that’s been the talk of the fanbase for a while now is the upcoming solo Flash film. The movie’s chaotic development, not to mention Ezra Miller’s borderline unacceptable behaviour, has originated some of the wildest theories for what would be in the cards for the future of the DCEU.
For a while, some fans even thought that the film would be cancelled, as Miller’s antics would prove too much of a PR nightmare for Warner Bros. to handle. For the time being, however, The Flash will be released in the summer of 2023, marking a before and after for the whole franchise.
Unlike some other recent “multiverse” films like Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Flash‘s marketing team has been quite open regarding its cast. The movie will feature the return not only of Ben Affleck as the DCEU’s Batman – but also Michael Keaton in his triumphant return to a role that forever changed the course of his career.
It’s also been said that The Flash could serve as a “reboot” of sorts to introduce what will be considered the mainline continuity for the DCEU. While other universes, like Matt Reeves’ The Batman, will still be a part of the franchise, they’ll be considered side stories to a larger, interconnected narrative.
This leaves us with two options: A) the Batman Beyond film takes place in the mainline DCEU, or B) it is treated as a standalone project. To be honest, given Beyond‘s entire plot and setting, I’d be leaning more toward the second option.
What’s even more curious, however, is that both Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck could eventually become Bruce Wayne from Batman Beyond. By this point, they’re both beloved Batman actors who could play the part of an older, retired Caped Crusader looking for his replacement.
Again, to be completely honest, I do believe that Keaton might be a more believable “older” Batman than Affleck, if only because I still want to see more of Batfleck in action before he retires.
As futuristic as Batman Beyond‘s setting might seem, the cartoon took place in the year 2040. In the real world, we’re dealing with very similar issues to that of the year 2000 – sure, phones might be smarter and computers might be faster, but that’s pretty much what most people might be expecting out of the next two decades.
My point is that, even though Beyond might at one point have seemed like a super futuristic look at Gotham, we’re closer to its timeline than we realize. If Warner Bros. were to produce a Batman Beyond film, they could easily just introduce Terry McGinnis in modern-day Gotham City and no one would bat an eye.
Considering that in most of what we’ve seen of the Snyderverse so far Batman looks about ready to retire, I think it would make sense for him to look for his successor as soon as possible.
Some creative liberties could be taken to ensure that the story fits with the rest of the DCEU – no clones or anything too sci-fi – and the film could still make perfect logical sense for the rest of the franchise.
Ben Affleck’s return to the DCEU represents a massive opportunity for the franchise. Even if the actor is not too keen on wearing the cowl again, a Batman Beyond film would be the perfect excuse to keep him in the franchise without him needing to be Batman anymore.
Fans who grew up with the dramatic storytelling and intense action scenes of Batman Beyond are no doubt ready to see Terry joining the DCEU: it’s a chance for them to see how everything they loved about their childhood Batman goes hand in hand with the darker, more grounded approach of the DCEU’s Dark Knight.
It’s also worth noting that the entire cyberpunk aesthetic is in vogue again right now, making it the perfect time for the DCEU to try something new with the visual style of a potential Batman Beyond movie. I just hope that Derek Powers doesn’t have any “Damaged” tattoos on his forehead.