Hold onto your capes, because a new report claims that Ben Affleck is on his way out of the DC cinematic universe. According to Variety, a major shake-up is in progress at Warner Bros. after a disappointing box office haul for Justice League. The movie made more than half a million when factoring in international audiences, but it pales in comparison to Marvel's superhero team-up movie The Avengers, which raked in $1.5 billion. Variety's sources claim this means not only some shuffling of executives, but the departure of Affleck as Batman.
It's been a trying time for Bat-fans. After being hailed as one of the better parts of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Affleck was set to star as The Dark Knight in a standalone film (simply dubbed "The Batman"). Once upon a time, he was slated to write and direct it as well. But eventually the script was ditched, and Affleck handed the reigns to Cloverfield director Matt Reeves in February.
As if that wasn't dismal enough, a rumor that Affleck was stepping away from Batman entirely (which is to say he would no longer even play the character, let alone write or direct anything involving him) popped up over the summer. However, Affleck seemed pretty secure in his role as Gotham's caped crusader at San Diego Comic-Con, where he said this:
"Let me be clear. I’m the luckiest guy. Batman is the coolest f-ing part in any universe... I’m so excited to do it. I think there’s this misconception that because I’m not directing it, I’m not doing it. But I’m so excited to be Batman." DC also used his face when showing The Batman on a timeline of upcoming DC films. Combined, these events gave Batfleck fans renewed hope.
But now we're back to whispers of Affleck departing after the solo Flash movie, which - perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not - is called Flashpoint. In the comics, Flashpoint was a timeline-altering event which served as something of a reboot for DC's heroes. Hence, it would make sense (though I would be careful about reading too much into this) that the live-action Flashpoint could serve as an excuse to let go of Batfleck.
Variety says the restructuring of DC's film division is expected to be complete by January 2018. Hopefully we'll have a clearer picture of where things are headed by then.