After word first broke in June that Michael Keaton was in talks to reprise his role as The Dark Knight in the forthcoming Flash film in the DC Extended Universe, Vanity Fair has now brought word that both Keaton and Ben Affleck are set to appear as Batman!
After initially retiring from the role due to his personal problems and the toll it was taking on him, Affleck seems to be on a more positive path and has agreed to return as Bruce Wayne for one more film in the upcoming Flash alongside Keaton in a “substantial” role, according to director Andy Muschietti. The former received the latest script for the long-developed project last week and subsequently agreed to join the film, while the latter appears to have finally closed his deal, and Muschietti says the reason they sought out Affleck to return was to establish the contrast between the alternate universes the titular speedster visits.
“His Batman has a dichotomy that is very strong, which is his masculinity—because of the way he looks, and the imposing figure that he has, and his jawline —but he’s also very vulnerable,” Muschietti said. “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. [Affleck’s[ a very substantial part of the emotional impact of the movie. The interaction and relationship between Barry and Affleck’s Wayne will bring an emotional level that we haven’t seen before. 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 the Affleck Batman kicks in.”
Alongside looking to capitalize on the fanbases for both iterations of the character, DC is looking to use the Batmen appearances as a launch point for introducing the concept of the multiverse to mainstream audiences so as to create a way for all of the different factions of the Warner Bros. and DC fandom to come together while still acknowledging their separation. The multiverse concept is one that has been used on the small screen for The CW’s Arrowverse, with Grant Gustin’s Flash coming face-to-face with Ezra Miller’s big screen iteration in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover earlier this year.
With his troubled past in the role being well-known in the news, producer Barbara Muschietti revealed they were concerned Affleck would not be interested in returning to the role given his road to recovery since departing, but that now that he’s in a “very different time in his life” he was “very open to it” when he was approached for Flash.
“We are all human and go through great times in our lives and terrible times in our lives,” Muschietti said. “Right now he’s in a place where he can actually enjoy being Batman. It’s a pivotal role, but at the same time it’s a fun part. This movie is a bit of a hinge in the sense that it presents a story that implies a unified universe where all the cinematic iterations that we’ve seen before are valid. It’s inclusive in the sense that it is saying all that you’ve seen exists, and everything that you will see exists, in the same unified multiverse.”
In addition to The Flash, Affleck will once again be seen in the role in a slightly different fashion with the notorious Zack Snyder’s Justice League, an extended and tonally different cut of the team-up blockbuster that is set to premiere on HBO Max sometime next year.
Keaton first took on the cowl in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, which proved a critical and commercial hit and helped pave the way for the comic book genre’s future box office domination. and his performance has largely been considered one of the best iterations of the character, despite initial hesitation from fans. He would return to the role in 1992’s Batman Returns with Burton directing, and after the financial success and continued positive reviews, the studio began development on a third installment, though quit after Burton was pushed out and replaced with Joel Schumacher, who would go on to direct Val Kilmer in Batman Forever and George Clooney in Batman & Robin.
Warner Bros. first revealed that their Flash film would be inspired by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert’s Flashpoint comic as early as 2017, with the studio even going so far as to change the movie’s title to Flashpoint for a while before reverting it back to simply The Flash.
The Flash is scheduled to arrive in theaters on July 1, 2022.