Batfleck, returns, this time with Michael Keaton in the cape and cowl.
48-year-old actor-director Ben Affleck shall return to the role of Batman for Ezra Miller’s The Flash, according to director Andy Muschietti.
Batfleck Returns – Why Did He Leave, and Why is He Back?
Depending on what side of the fence fans land on, Affleck’s debut as The Dark Knight in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice drew a lot of attention. Regardless of whether fans loved or hated his take on Bruce Wayne, none can argue with the physicality he brought to the caped crusader. Many can say the infamous warehouse rescue in that film truly captured the character’s ruthless aggression. After a brief cameo in Suicide Squad, however, Joss Whedon’s take on Justice League showed a different type of Batman that did not sit well with fans. The loner was gone, replaced with a snarky, grinning Bruce Wayne trying to unite the team. It was one of the complaints about this lighter direction that made the film flop and Warner abandoning the shared universe approach to DC’s characters on film.
Further, Affleck’s involvement in a solo film ended due to creative differences, which led to Robert Pattinson taking over.
Muschietti’s decision to bring Ben back is fueled by his perception of untapped potential.
“His Batman has a dichotomy that is very strong which is his masculinity, ” he explains. “[But] he’s also very vulnerable. He knows how to deliver from the inside out, that vulnerability. He just needs a story that allows him to bring that contrast, that balance.”
The emotional center of the movie, of course, is The Fastest Man Alive himself, Barry Allen, played by Ezra Miller. The plot will be influenced by the infamous miniseries Flashpoint, in which Allen travels back in time to prevent is mother’s murder and the resulting Butterfly Effect creates a new, disastrous timeline. Muschietti is playing off of the chemistry established in Justice League between Bruce and Barry. Bruce was, after all, the one who recruited him personally. The interaction between both heroes also occurs in the main plot of the comic.
“[Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne] is a very substantial part of the emotional impact of the movie. [It’s] Barry’s movie, it’s Barry’s story, but their characters are more related than we think. They both lost their mothers to murder, and that’s one of the emotional vessels of the movie. That’s where Affleck’s Batman kicks in.”
(For those who aren’t aware, don’t worry: Barry’s mother is not also named Martha.)
The DC Multiverse On Cinema
Muschietti also wanted to bring Batfleck back because he wanted to maintain the continuity established in the DCEU; having Miller’s Barry interact with a recast Bruce Wayne would fail to establish the timeline movie viewers are familiar with before the alterations to the timestream.
As previous reports have indicated, Affleck is not coming alone. Michael Keaton, the first modern live-action Batman of Tim Burton’s 1989 blockbuster, will appear as an alternate version of The Dark Knight. In the comic book story, the changes to the timeline resulted in Bruce Wayne gunned down in Crime Alley and Dr. Thomas Wayne as a more lethal version of Batman.
Besides the miniseries and Warner Bros.’s need to draw a crowd, Muschietti’s motivation is the same as the handling of the DC Multiverse on the CW’s Arrowverse shows. Introduced in the second season of the CW’s Flash series, the multiverse has been a firmly established subplot across all shows connected to the inaugural Arrow. The recent adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths in a five-part crossover event drove home the notion of DC films as canon alternate realities. Even the lackluster 2012 Green Lantern film with Ryan Reynolds and the 1966 Batman tv series. In fact, Miller’s Flash had a cameo in the penultimate chapter where he ran into Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen within the Speed Force. In that vernacular, Muschietti is just extending that we’re-all-in-this-together notion on the big screen.
“[This movie] presents a story that implies a unified universe where all cinematic iterations that we’ve seen before are valid. [It’s] inclusive in the sense that it is saying all you’ve seen exists, and everything that you will see, exists in the same unified multiverse.”
As to Ben’s widely-covered struggle with alchoholism, Andy’s wife and producer of The Flash Barbara Muschietti, is empathetic and supportive. “We’re all human and go through great times in our lives and terrible times in our lives. [Right now] he’s in a place where he can actually enjoy being Batman [and the pressure is off him as one of the main characters. It’s] just a fun part.”
The Flash is expected to speed into theaters some time in 2021, but no release date has been confirmed.