In case you missed it, Warner Bros’ presentation at CinemaCon this week came with the confirmation we’ve all been waiting for: Ben Affleck will be writing, directing, and starring in an as-yet-untitled solo Batman flick.
Well, to be more accurate, the CEO of Warners, Kevin Tsujihara’s, exact words were, ‘we’re working with Ben Affleck on a standalone Batman movie.’ But, coupled with Ben Affleck prior comments that ‘[Geoff Johns] and I are working together on something and I really am excited about it, and I love him, he’s the best’ all but confirms he has more than a starring role in the upcoming film. Well, that’s how our excited minds have chosen to read into all these superheroic shenanigans anyway.
No release date for the film was announced but the time to start with the speculations has begun, so let’s get right into it!
First up, we already know the potential cast based on previous casting announcements for Justice League and Batman V Superman:
- Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman
- Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
- J. K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon
- Jena Malone as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl/Oracle
Other names that could appear include the cast of the Suicide Squad:
- Jared Leto as The Joker
- Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn
- Viola Davis as Amanda Waller
- Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Waylon Jones/Killer Croc
And that’s not mentioning all the other names and characters already featuring in the upcoming and past films that could show up to surprise us.
Now, with the story – unless Ben Affleck has found an incredibly effective anti-aging cream, it will most likely be a continuation of the Batman we met in BvS. Flashbacks seem likely, mostly so we can get some answers to some of the questions posed already such as ‘what happened to Robin?’ and ‘why is Wayne Manor in ruins?’.
Here are five hopes we have for the direction the film might take:
Arkham games as inspiration
One of the best sequences to come out of BvS sees Batman take out a bunch of mercenaries in a scene seemingly pulled straight out of the Rocksteady’s Arkham games. If we could get more of that, I doubt anybody would complain…
On top of that though, the Arkham series did a fantastic job of utilising the entirety of the Batman mythos without any need for handholding. We don’t need to see the origins of the villains, we already know who they are, just drop us into Gotham City and we’ll figure out where everybody fits without the need for too much exposition.
It’s about Batman, not the villain
Batman Begins still stands as my favourite live action Batman film for one reason in particular: it’s the only one that’s actually about Batman. All the others have the antagonist as the focus of the story, from a top-billed Jack Nicholson as Joker to Arnold’s Mr Freeze to Tom Hardy’s Bane. Yes, there’s a need for story catalyst, but when the villain overshadows the hero, you may as well rename the movie to ‘The Joker and Two Face’.
Getting by with a little help from his friends
The strength of Batman is largely found in the support of his allies and hopefully they’ll all get their time to shine in the next film. Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing, Batwoman, Red Hood – all of them play a huge part in shaping the legacy of the Dark Knight and without them, the world of Batman becomes much more isolated and much emptier. Imagine finally seeing an epic fight featuring, say, the League of Assassins, against Batman, Nightwing, Robin, and Batgirl. I’m practically salivating at the prospect.
Embrace the supernatural
Don’t get me wrong, I love what Christopher Nolan did with making ‘realistic’ Batman films. I don’t need to see more of it though. BvS went a ways to embracing the more ‘supernatural’ elements of the DC Universe and there’s no reason to have this film suddenly snap back to Nolan-verse realism. This isn’t a documentary, this is escapism, don’t hold back on dabbling in the more outlandish plots and ridiculous super powers.
Make it stand on its own
The downside of the shared Marvel universe is best displayed in Ant-Man when Scott Lang’s first thought about his mission is: ‘I think our first move should be calling the Avengers’. Knowing that Wonder Woman, Superman, The Flash and others are all on hand to help out will make the story seem redundant. How to solve this: isolate Batman as much as possible. Make it like Arkham Asylum, where Batman is trapped, surrounded by villains, unable to get help. If need be, simplify the story to a single night or event like The Raid or Dredd.
It goes without saying, this is an exciting announcement and we can’t wait to see what Ben and Warner Bros have in store. As the months go on and we find out new things about the film (and whet our whistles with Batfleck’s appearance in Suicide Squad) we’ll have more to talk about, but for now, it’s all about building a bit of anticipation for what’s sure to be an epic experience.
Oh, and if they could call it ‘The Batman’, that would be great.