[This Report On The Batman Was First Published On The El Fanboy Website On 11/16/17. Now That Revenge of The Fans Is The Home For My Exclusive Reports, I Figured I’d Bring It On Home For Easier Perusal.]
I’ll admit it. When John Campea revealed yesterday that Jake Gyllenhaal was the likely replacement for Ben Affleck, should the revered actor-director decide to leave the role before Matt Reeves makes The Batman, I was fairly crushed. See, I’ve known about this for quite some time that Matt Reeves wants Jake Gyllenhaal for The Batman and I was sitting on it, waiting for Justice League to come out because I knew the situation would come to a head shortly after.
It’s practically an open secret, amongst the film reporting community, that Affleck has been eyeing his exit from the DC Films Universe for quite some time, and that he was unlikely to star in The Batman. While some fans will act shocked, and others have fought with writers like me for almost a year whenever an update is offered on this front, none of this should come as a surprise to anyone looking at the situation objectively. I’ve reported extensively on this elsewhere (and I’ve got another full-on investigation coming up on the horizon), and in recent months I’ve kept mum on the subject because it’s been such an annoying game of Bat & Mouse with Mr. Affleck.
Well, now that the cat’s out of the bag, I may as well spill what else I’ve heard:
The news that Affleck may soon be replaced by Jake Gyllenhaal in The Batman brings up a lot of questions and I’m here to answer them for you. Questions such as:
- What’s up with Affleck continuously denying that he was leaving the role if this was the plan practically all along?
- Does this mean that The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves, will be set outside of the proper DC Films canon?
- Will Gyllenhaal be playing a younger Bruce Wayne/Batman in a prequel of sorts?
First things first, it was brought to my attention a few weeks ago that Gyllenhaal was an actor waiting in the wings to potentially replace Affleck in The Batman. At the time, it was thought he- and possibly others- could be used as a bit of leverage. After a very stressful year, with the relationship between Affleck and Warner Bros. going back and forth, Reeves had started making inquiries into other actors and the studio felt this would push Affleck to make a final decision.
Throughout the course of the last 11 months, Affleck has gone from “Get me out of here!” to “Maybe I’ll stay” to “With everything going on in my life, a stabile job like this could do me good” to “I can’t do this anymore.” This internal tug-of-war not only led to his relationship with the studio souring, but it also became a public relations nightmare, as his romance with Batman became a very distracting “Will They? or Won’t They?” affair within the DC Films narrative.
ALSO READ: “What We’d Love To See In Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN“
But, to be clear, it wasn’t always bad. And there were, indeed, times when it looked like he may stick around to work out a proper exit. That’s why it’s hard to call Affleck a liar, or get too upset with him about the times he’s directly stated that he’s not going anywhere. There were genuinely times he thought he might, and there’s also the little matter of “I have to sell Justice League. That’s my job. I can’t tell people I’m leaving the role before the movie has even come out. That’ll overshadow the movie!” That kind of thought process is easy to understand.
At the end of the day, though, just as he said this on Jimmy Kimmel Live on January 9:
“I’m gonna direct the next Batman, we’re workin’ on it. It’s one of those things that’s really frustrating because like with Live by Night, it took me a year and a half to write it and get it ready and I worked really hard, it’s just nobody gave a shit. No one was like ‘Where’s Live by Night?!’ But with Batman I keep getting the like, ‘Where’s the fucking Batman?!’ and I’m like ‘Bro I’m workin’, give me a second!”
And then dropped out on January 30…
The guy has just been trying to do his job by keeping up the facade that everything is going smoothly.
As of a few weeks ago, here’s what my source was saying about the matter while speaking to me on the condition of anonymity about what’s going on with The Batman:
“They’ve got someone waiting in the (Bat)wings to apply pressure. If he [Affleck] can’t agree to terms, he is gone.“
With today’s leak of Gyllenhaal’s name, I contacted my source to see if things had changed. Turns out they had:
“[The Gyllenhaal] news will probably be confirmed, because now Affleck is most likely not coming back. The last few weeks have been clear he wants out. It’s a bummer. So I think that is why the JG stuff is leaking harder.”
Indeed, something must have finally clicked for Affleck while on the marathon of a publicity tour for Justice League, and so his exit is finally all but a sure thing. He first publicly admitted that his future as Batman was in question a couple of days ago, when he revealed that he was “contemplating” appearing in The Batman, and that he was trying to figure out a “cool way to segue out of the role.”
With regard to the continuity for The Batman, some are wondering what this recasting means. Gyllenhaal doesn’t exactly resemble Affleck, and he’s likely to play the character quite differently. If you’ll recall, a few months ago, Reeves set the internet ablaze when he made comments that sounded like the film wouldn’t be connected to the DCEU. He would eventually walk those comments back, but this stuff brings it back to the forefront.
So what’s it going to be? Is The Batman going to be a reboot? Will it exist as part of an alternate continuity like that Joker movie Todd Phillips is working on?
“The Batman will not be a prequel or reboot. It’s the JL [Justice League] Batman.“
Okay. Will it be about a younger Bruce Wayne?
“JG will be almost 40 when The Batman is out. He still has operated for 20 years, but his age will be less of the focus.“
My final question had to do with what they’re hearing about the script, which is still currently in development. Here’s what my source said of the current state of things:
“Reeves is going to do some stuff influenced in crime film and deep Batman mythos.”
This seems to go hand-in-hand with what Reeves said a few months back, about The Batman being more of a noir, detective story. What’s new and interesting is the idea of Reeves delving deep into the mythos. Up until now, the films have all tackled fairly mainstream villains: Joker, Bane, Ra’s Al Ghul, Penguin, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Mister Freeze, Two-Face, and The Riddler. If Reeves is going deep, this could mean we get to finally meet cinematic versions of characters like Black Mask, Victor Zsasz, or Hush.
I’ve also been told by folks I trust that Reeves is looking at David Fincher films like Se7en, Zodiac, and The Game. He’s really high on this idea of a gritty crime drama, with the World’s Greatest Detective on the case.
Lastly, for those of you concerned that it’s going to be jarring to have someone just take over as Batman, DC Entertainment plans on making the transition go smoothly by surrounding the new Bruce Wayne with familiar faces. In other words, whether it’s Gyllenhaal or someone else, he’ll have a supporting cast comprised of Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons, and- if needed for the story- Jared Leto and Margot Robbie, to make sure it’s clear that this is the same Dark Knight we’ve seen in Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League.
It’s been fascinating to watch all of this unfold, and I’ll be sad if Affleck does- indeed- abandon the cave, but I’m hoping we finally find a resolution to all of this- and soon!
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