Well this is surprising, especially given what a tough time Ben Affleck had in the cape and cowl (he told the New York Times there was a good chance he would have “drunk himself to death” if he played the character again), but the actor will return to play Bruce Wayne/Batman in The Flash, to be directed by It filmmaker Andy Muschietti and co-written by comic book legend Grant Morrison (the exclusive reveal came via Vanity Fair) and starring Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen, first introduced in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Huh.
The big screen solo Flash movie is an adaptation of the 2011 “Flashpoint” comic book event by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, which saw the speedy character zapping into alternate dimensions and parallel timelines. Hence, how Affleck’s Batman can co-exist in the same movie with the previously announced Michael Keaton Batman (could Val Kilmer, Christian Bale and George Clooney be far behind?)
“He’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,” Muscietti told Vanity Fair. “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.”
And having Affleck’s Batman around makes sense, since Barry knows Affleck as his world’s Batman. Encountering other Batmen wouldn’t matter as much. “He’s the baseline. He’s part of that unaltered state before we jump into Barry’s adventure,” Muschietti said. “There’s a familiarity there.”
Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with its streamlined storytelling and single, easy-to-follow continuity, DC has always embraced a hey, why not approach, with multiple versions of the same characters appearing in the DC Extended Universe live-action features and in live-action television series at the same time, with little regard for crossover or potential confusion (although Miller did appear as Barry Allen during a multi-show event earlier this year).
Muschietti suggests that The Flash will make all of that valid: “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.” If you say so Andy!
And while Affleck has, in the past, made it very clear that it was downright unhealthy for him to make that scary voice and put on the cumbersome costume (last seen in the tormented Justice League), the team behind The Flash say that he’s ready to go again. “There have been some all sorts of stories and things he said himself about having a very hard time playing Batman, and it had been difficult for him,” Barbara Muschietti, Andy’s sister and producing partner, told Vanity Fair. “I think it was more about a difficult time in his life. When we approached him, he’s now in a very different time in his life. He was very open to it, which was a bit of a surprise to us. It was a question mark.” She continued: “We are all human and go through great times in our lives and terrible times in our lives. Right now he’s in a place where he can actually enjoy being Batman.” Plus, she noted, he’s not the star of the show, describing his role as Batman as “a pivotal role” but also “a fun part.”
The Flash is due in theaters summer 2022.