Warner Bros. is plotting a future for the Batman movie franchise without Ben Affleck. The Hollywood Reporter states that WB has plans to “gracefully” usher the movie superstar out of the DC movie universe as it moves forward with a planned trilogy of Batman movies by director Matt Reeves.
According to THR, there would be an in-continuity reason for the change in Batman actors, which probably means that the Affleck’s Bruce Wayne would either retire or be killed off.
THR cites Ben Affleck’s age as a major reason for the potential change. Affleck is currently 45 years old and he’d quickly be approaching 50 by the time The Batman comes out in 2019 or later.
While older action stars aren’t uncommon in Hollywood (Robert Downey Jr. is 52,) Affleck is also significantly older than his fellow Justice League stars. Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot are both younger than 35, while Ezra Miller is only 24 years old. Jason Momoa is the only other Justice Leaguer who’s anywhere close to 40.
There’s a couple of possibilities as to what could happen next. Affleck could possibly remain Batman for the planned Justice League movies, while Matt Reeves casts another actor, with plans to eventually transition Reeves’ Batman into the wider universe. WB could also have Affleck’s Bruce Wayne pass off the mantle to a successor like Nightwing or Azrael.
There’s also ample precedent to simply recast Batman, similar to Val Kilmer replacing Michael Keaton in the 1990s without any in-movie mention.
In the meantime, Ben Affleck will star as Batman in Justice League, which debuts on November 17, 2017.