It’s official: actor Ben Affleck is out as the current Batman for Warner Bros.’ live-action DC films. Warner Bros. will be moving forward with director Matt Reeves‘ film with a new actor helming the titular role. What will this new BATMAN film look like and what could perhaps explain the actor replacement? Let’s find out.

New BATMAN Film: An Official Release Date and Affleck Confirmation

The confirmation of actor Ben Affleck’s status as the Caped Crusader comes courtesy of a Deadline exclusive. The article not only details that he will not be returning as Bruce Wayne but also gives a release date. June 25th, 2021 is when audiences can expect to see the next iteration of Batman.

Image from Warner Bros.

The article’s accuracy is given even more validation courtesy of Ben Affleck’s Twitter account, where he retweeted the article saying,

“Excited for #TheBatman in Summer 2021 and to see @MattReevesLA vision come to life.”

Now, while this in and of itself is not an official confirmation one way or the other, the article does reference Affleck passing on the torch to a new generation of Bruce Wayne. The only other interesting piece of news coming out of this article is Deadline’s reports that the new BATMAN film will focus on a younger Bruce Wayne. Let’s explore this idea as there are a few reasons why this could turn out to work for the best for DC live-action films overall.

The Batman We Know Presently

So far, we’ve seen Affleck’s Batman is BATMAN v SUPERMAN, the end of SUICIDE SQUAD, and working to bring the world’s heroes together in JUSTICE LEAGUE. So…it’s been rocky all around and the writing’s been on the wall since 2016. Even so, I am of the group that really enjoys Affleck’s Batman portrayal despite the overall flaws and issues in these particular films.

Image from Warner Bros.

The Bruce Wayne we know right now is a tired Batman, having been at the crime-fighting gig for 20 years. He’s initially cynical of the world and its’ capacity for good in BATMAN v SUPERMAN. However, he eventually turns hopeful and optimistic for that good’s return by the time we see JUSTICE LEAGUE. Bruce is older, having more experience than his fellow Leaguers, with the exception of Wonder Woman.

He’s known loss, struggles, and weathered donning the cape and cowl through several storms and conflicts. However, we have yet to see this 20-year career. Seeing this earlier career with some prequel films would certainly provide a plethora of narrative possibilities. Again, I love Affleck’s portrayal and am sad to see him go. However, I am excited about the opportunity of seeing a younger Bruce Wayne.

New BATMAN Film: A Younger Bruce Wayne And A Bigger Threat?

Even with this excitement of a prequel Batman film, I would not be super excited to see another origin story. Mainstream audiences know Batman’s story and his motivations to fight crime being the result of his parents’ murder. We don’t need to see it yet again. I would, however, be interested to see a Bruce Wayne whose perhaps 5 years into his career. He’s had some victories, gained some experience, and ready to face bigger threats. However, there could still be enemies and threats he’s yet to face and conquer.

What if the first five years is Batman fighting the mobs, such as the Falcones and Maroni crime families from the comics? What if a new player arrives on the scenes, with large agendas and desires exceeding those of Batman’s usual foes thus far? I’m referring to someone like the Penguin, the crime kingpin of Gotham.

It would be really cool to see Penguin on screen more like an actual cunning crime boss, and less of the Danny Devito sewer-creature Tim Burton made him out to be. If Oswald Cobblepot were to get the criminals of Gotham organized unlike ever before, it would certainly be something to get Bruce Wayne’s attention and could be a big enough threat he might not be prepared for.

New BATMAN Film: Josh Gad as The Penguin?

While others could fill this role such as Two-Face or the Riddler, I mention Penguin because of one Mr. Josh Gad. For the last year, actor Josh Gad has been campaigning for the role of the Penguin. While there isn’t any confirmation, director Matt Reeves has recently made it known that he’s aware of Josh Gad’s campaign. He’s said nothing either way but did say that Gad is great and that they are friends.

Josh Gad as Penguin courtesy of artist BossLogic

With the script nearing its’ completion, casting is sure to come soon and we’ll have the answer. My personal hope is that Gad gets the part. He’d be absolutely perfect for the role and has recently proven his ability to act outside of the comedic genre such as with MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.

More Than One Villain? “What About Escalation?”

It’s very possible that we could get more appearances from other members of the Batman’s rogues gallery. Keeping within the same vein as new and larger threats than the average criminals, what if Matt Reeves’ story reveals the origins of the Gotham super criminal? Perhaps even the emergence of Arkham Asylum?

In Christopher Nolan’s DARK KNIGHT trilogy, Batman and Jim Gordon have a conversation at the end of BATMAN BEGINS. In it, Gordon asks Batman if he’s concerned about escalation.

“We start buying semi-automatics, they buy automatics. We start wearing kevlar, they buy armor-piercing rounds. You’re wearing a mask and jumping off rooftops…”

He then shows him a joker card, and thus Batman gets his first look into Gotham’s criminal response to his actions: The Gotham criminal supervillain/mastermind like the Joker.

Image from Warner Bros.

This concept of escalation would be a great source material foundation for this new BATMAN film. Five years have passed, and Gotham’s criminals are ready to counter its’ protector in full force. We could see some of Batman’s rogues gallery that are of the more fantastic variety. Characters like Clayface, Man-Bat, or other villains who have powers of significance. I even think audiences would be ready for new versions of Mr. Freeze or Poison Ivy, though I would imagine Ivy will be saved for GOTHAM CITY SIRENS. Going the complete other direction, I also wouldn’t mind seeing a team-up of criminal masterminds forcing Bruce to use his detective skills.

The World’s Greatest Detective

Reeves also says that his new BATMAN film will feature a more noir-detective tone than prior BATMAN films. This is a crucial piece of Bruce Wayne’s character and skills I believe is largely missing from his various live-action debuts. One of his monikers is the World’s Greatest Detective, having gained his impressive skills of deduction while undergoing his globe-trekking training to become the Batman.

Image from DC Comics

There needs to be more mystery and crime in the shadows in order for audiences to truly see Bruce work. No showy or flashy bank robberies, or large-scale public social experiments over Gotham’s soul with two boats.

“What about that time with the two boats?” “This is better than the time with the two boats!”

We need the villains he comes into conflict with to not wish to be seen or caught. At the very least their crimes need to be more complex, with Bruce needing to analyze, deduce, and hunt for leads to unravel their plots. It’s something that the live-action BATMAN films have sorely been missing, and would be something new and cool, in my opinion.

New BATMAN Film Can Still Be Part of Cinematic Universe

Even with a younger Batman at the helm, the new BATMAN film can still exist in the cinematic universe that has been created thus far. Despite the hang-ups and issues Warner Bros. has had with Zack Snyder, they should certainly be grateful to him and his desire to have an older Batman in BATMAN v. SUPERMAN. It allows Warner Bros. to hit the reset button on the BATMAN franchise without upsetting the current continuity they have across the other films.

Image from Warner Bros.

Even though he’s been around for 20 years prior to BATMAN v SUPERMAN, the other members of the League have not. They essentially come onto the public scene as heroes at the time of JUSTICE LEAGUE. The new BATMAN film and any that follow it can do their own thing and have their own space. It’s the perfect having your cake and eating it too situation that fans won’t take issue with. What are your hopes for the new BATMAN film? What do you think it’s going to look like? Who’s gonna play Batman? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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The new BATMAN film releases June 25th, 2021.

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