As we all know, yesterday there was big news about Geoff Johns stepping down as Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment. That was huge. However, there was one part of one sentence of Deadline‘s coverage of that news that most of the Internet thought was a story as big, if not bigger. Here is the sentence in question, in its entirety:
…with Matt Reeves rebooting Batman for a new standalone franchise, likely with a new actor to play the Caped Crusader after Ben Affleck’s stints in Batman V Superman and Justice League.
I kind of glommed over that sentence. Why? Because, first of all, it was an old rumor, dating back to July of last year and, second of all, the rumor was denied at San Diego Comic Con shortly after the rumor hit and again in November when the press tours for Justice League began. But something about the nonchalant way Deadline writer Mike Fleming, Jr. threw out that line caught the rest of the internet’s fancy, because they picked up that ball and ran with it:
- Is Matt Reeves Rebooting ‘The Batman’ Without Ben Affleck?–/Film
- REPORT: Matt Reeves to Reboot The Batman Franchise and Replace Ben Affleck –Comic Book Resources
- Rumor: Matt Reeves to Reboot the Batman Movies Without Ben Affleck–Bleeding Cool
- Report: Matt Reeves Will Reboot The Batman Franchise & Replace Ben Affleck–The Playlist
- Matt Reeves’ ‘The Batman’ Reportedly A Reboot Without Ben Affleck–Heroic Hollywood
- Matt Reeves’ The Batman Will Be A Reboot Standalone Franchise–Cultured Vultures
- Report: Matt Reeves’s ‘The Batman’ Likely A Reboot With No Ben Affleck–Comicbook.com
- Warner Bros could be planning another Batman movie reboot without Ben Affleck–Digital Spy
- Rumor of the Day: Matt Reeves wants a standalone Batman franchise without Ben Affleck–SYFY Wire
- Matt Reeves’ The Batman Confirmed To Be A Reboot Without Ben Affleck?–Latino Review Media
- Matt Reeves To Reboot BATMAN And Replace Ben Affleck–Splash Report
And that’s just the top hits I found on Google. There are probably hundreds of similar articles out there.
So, yes, without as much as a “My sources have recently told me…,” let alone a “Warners has official stated…” attached to it, Mike Fleming, Jr.’s sentence fragment has Frankensteined a long dead rumor back to life. And a lot of websites have taken this reheated leftover and presented it to their readers as new content. What’s worse, some are presenting it as fact.
Is the rumor true? Who knows? We have received no more new information about the rumor than we got last year and practically any news we got about the rumor were people denying it.
But since everyone else is talking about this rumor, let us talk about it. But I’m going to take a different track. Let’s go over the three reasons why, if this rumor is true, that it is a good thing and three reasons why it would be a bad thing to reboot Batfleck.
- They will be able to go younger with the role: As much as it pains me to say this, considering Ben Affleck is a year younger than me, he might be a bit too old for the part. At 45, he might realistically have maybe one or two more films in him before the late night talk shows start running skits about Batman in a retirement home.The idea of making Batman an “elder stateman” of the DCEU was an interesting one in theory and certainly set this version of the character apart from other versions. But in practice, it was presented all that well. Instead of a world-weary hero to mentor the new metahumans, we got a character whose best days (and most film-worthy moments) were all behind him. And he wasn’t any wiser, as his motivation in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice shows. Speaking of which…
- It will allow them to correct the characterization flaws in the DCEU Batman: As a fan who bought his first Batman comic at the age of four, I feel I can rightfully say that the Batman we got in BvS is a poor representation of the Batman fans know and love. Let’s face it. Batman/Bruce Wayne is the villain of BvS as much as Luthor is. He has the same motivation as Luthor–both want to kill Superman because he was a threat. The only thing that brings Batman back to side of the angels is that his mother and Superman’s mother have the same name. The fact that the DCEU’s Batman kills is a big enough break from the comics to ruin the character for a lot of people. But the fact that the detective part of his persona was thrown by the wayside is just another log on the fire.There is a lot of nuance to the Batman character, and he is open to a number of different interpretations. But if you are going to stray so far away from the conventional characterization, you’d better show us in the film why he went down that path. Because without that, it appears you really don’t know the character at all.
- It will give us a chance to see more chances to more of the Batman mythos: Batman has a rich history in the comic that has only been scratched at by the films. There are a whole bunch of great villains in Batman’s rogues gallery that have yet to make it to the big screen. There are storylines that have yet to be tapped and supporting characters yet to be seen. Like I said above, Affleck’s Batman has already faced those bad guys in the DCEU continuity, and will most likely not be reintroduced before Affleck get too old for the role. A fresh start means more chances for new characters and stories from the comics to be introduced.
- Affleck might have been the bomb in PHANTOMS, but he was also pretty good as Batman. Losing him hurts: Complaining about Ben Affleck’s acting seems to be a cottage industry of the internet. Let me be a rebel and say that I thought he did very well with what he was given in the DCEU films. He didn’t have very good writing to work with on BvS, but Affleck tried to cover the flaws in characterization in the script with his acting.
Take the first meeting between Bruce and Clark in that film. The conversation escalates to animosity fairly quickly. But Affleck makes the increase in tension almost believable. It was the type of performance that makes me wish I could have seen him act as the character in a much better movie. Now we will never get that chance.
- A rebooted Batman will make a confusing DCEU even more confusing: Affleck’s Batman has been the connecting tissue of the DCEU so far. His presence has been felt in every film so far. Rebooting him out of there will cause a messy situation that will destroy the shared universe they are trying to create. It will be trying to force a puzzle piece from another puzzle into the last space of the one you are currently working on.
Case in point: we know that a movie starring Jared Leto’s Joker is in the works. The Joker is Batman’s archenemy, something everyone knows. Leto’s Joker has already faced off against Affleck’s Batman in Suicide Squad, establishing that relationship in the DCEU. So, if they reboot Affleck out of the Batman role and replace him with, presumably, a younger actor, how does Leto’s Joker fit in now? Leto is actually older than Affleck! The Batman/Joker in the DCEU dynamic would change from a battle of contemporaries to a younger hero versus an older villain. Would that be explored? Or would Leto’s Joker and, by proxy, the Suicide Squad shared universe be relegated to an alternate shared universe outside the DCEU to avoid addressing that? But how would that work since the Suicide Squad is directly tied to plot points from BvS…
I’ll stop there because it gets more confusing the further down you go into that rabbit hole. That kind of problem might not trouble comic book fans who are used to retroactive continuity changes. But your average, non-comic book reading audiences, the people you need to buy tickets to make a film a hit, will be totally lost.
- Eventually, audiences will become tired of reboots: If this reboot goes through, it will be the third version of Batman we have seen in ten years. That didn’t seem to be a problem with Sony/Marvel and Spider-Man, but Batman has had one other continuity in its history and the new actor would be the sixth actor to play the character on screen since 1989. And let’s not forget that the Batman franchise has an installment that was directed by Christopher Nolan, which was the best interpretation of the character yet, one of the best comic book film series of all time, and stands as some of the best movies ever.
All this could add up to audiences saying enough is enough. I’m sure a lot of fans wished they stopped after the Nolan films, beliving they could not be topped. Any reboot would have to be some really good cinema to not lose audience interest. And since Warners thought hiring Joel Schumacher to direct the character and a 40-something Ben Affleck to play the character, their judgment hasn’t been all that good when it comes to Batman.
So, yeah. I’m still not 100% sold on Reeves’ The Batman being a complete reboot, but if it is, it could be a good thing or a bad thing.