The Batfleck was a polarizing figure in American pop culture. Before DC started confusing the hell out of us with standalone villain origin stories and quasi-sequels like Birds of Prey, there was just one shared universe to keep up with, the DCEU.
DC’s answer to Marvel gave us a few looks at Ben Affleck’s tired-of-this-shit Batman, mainly in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and 2017’s Justice League, both met with middling reviews. And almost as soon as Batfleck was given to us, Batfleck was taken away. In January, we learned that Affleck would recede into the darkness and no longer star in his long-planned Batman solo movie.
At the same time, Deadline reported that Matt Reeves—who was already set to direct the Batfleck solo outing—would take things in an entirely new direction, and cast a new, younger Batman for an all-new trilogy. In the months since then, we’ve had what’s felt like a nonstop churn of casting and plot news from the project—here’s a breakdown of what we know.
Who has been cast so far?
The casting of Bruce Wayne himself has actually been the most straightforward bit of news we’ve had from that end of things so far. In May, Variety reported that Twilight-turned-arthouse regular Robert Pattinson would suit up as the Caped Crusader.
Things were quiet until September, which is when we saw a wild update: Jonah Hill was in talks to play a villain (likely the Penguin or Riddler), and Jeffrey Wright was in negotiations to take on Commissioner Jim Gordon. A couple weeks later, Variety reported that Jonah hill passed on the project. And shortly after that, Borys Kit from The Hollywood Reporter tweeted that Seth Rogen was being considered for the Penguin, but that fell through, too.
Then, The Hollywood Reporter dropped two reports—that Escape at Dannemora star Paul Dano would play The Riddler, and Big Little Lies mainstay Zoe Kravitz would become Catwoman. But still, no word on whether or not Warner Bros. is still looking to fill the Penguin role they considered Rogen for.
Where will it fall on the Adam West to Christopher Nolan grit scale?
Medium gritty? Back when we heard about the Affleck departure, Reeves told The Hollywood Reporter what his gameplan was looking like. “It’s very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale,” he said. “It’s told very squarely on his shoulders, and I hope it’s going to be a story that will be thrilling but also emotional. It’s more Batman in his detective mode that we’ve seen in the films.”
It’s a relief that we’re getting a detective noir take on the hero, considering Zack Snyder’s Batman (Reeves’s trilogy has no connection to that corner of the DCEU, by the way) had Bruce Wayne in a Hurt Locker suit beating on those weird desert dragons.
Pattinson seems on board with the more-brains-than-brawn take, too. “He’s a complicated character… His morality is a little bit off,” Pattinson told The New York Times of Bruce Wayne. “He’s not the golden boy, unlike almost every other comic-book character. There is a simplicity to his worldview, but where it sits is strange, which allows you to have more scope with the character.”
He also told the Times, “Batman’s not a hero… He’s a complicated character. I don’t think I could ever play a real hero—there’s always got to be something a little bit wrong. I think it’s because one of my eyes is smaller than the other one.”
Any chance of Battinson meeting up with Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker?
If you’re going by Joker director Todd Phillips’s word, then probably not. When the Los Angeles Times asked him if Joaquin’s Joker would square off against any version of Batman, he said, “We would never do that. No, no.”
And when presented the theory that Arthur Fleck inspired the version of the Joker who would go on to fight Batman, Phillips left things a little more open-ended. “Maybe Joaquin’s character inspired the Joker,” he said. “You don’t really know. His last line in the movie is. ‘You wouldn’t get it.’ There’s a lot going on in there that’s interesting.”
Hey, crazier things have happened in the name of money. So we’ll see.
When will it be released?
The first film in Reeves’s trilogy will hit theaters June 25, 2021. Actually, that’s one week after Space Jam 2’s release. What a time to be alive.