Ben Affleck’s future as The Batman suddenly is looking very, very bright. (And no, that’s not a dig at Zack Snyder’s muted color palate on Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, so far.) There were rumors that Affleck was setting up a solo Batman movie as his post-Justice plan, and now a number of items have dropped that suggest this will be the direction that the Caped Crusader is heading.

For starters, Variety just reported that Ben Affleck’s next announced directorial effort, an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Live By Night, has been bumped from an October 7, 2016 release date to an undetermined 2017 date. Affleck reportedly was going to begin filming the period crime thriller in November, though the trade now says, "By delaying till 2017, Affleck is given more time to devote to the project."

Possibly. Or it might also be freeing him up to direct a solo Batman movie to land in theaters in 2016 or early 2017.

This isn’t the only piece of evidence, though it is the most concrete. However, this new report also caught our eye. Den of Geek is reporting that a close-to-final cut of Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice recently screened for crew members and Warner Bros. executives… and it received a standing ovation. They said that Ben Affleck’s Batman was the clear focal point of the new movie, and that the studio is now preparing a "Golden Deal" that would keep Ben Affleck in the cape and cowl for a TRILOGY of standalone Batman films, and not just the one that has been talked about.

Part of this sounds likely. Ben Affleck’s a terrific director, and his portrayal of the Dark Knight looks somber, multi-faceted and captivating. Locking an Oscar-winning director up for a solo Batman movie makes all the sense in the world. But a trilogy of films? That’s when we start to get into the long-term wish-fulfillment nonsense that gets studios in trouble… like when Fox announced a date for a Fantastic Four sequel before the initial movie even screened for audiences. Don’t you think they should have waited to see if people actually liked the new FF before committing to future films?

If I had to put my weight behind one of these, I’d wager that Live By Night is being postponed by Warner so that Ben Affleck is free to star in and direct one Batman movie. I think Affleck loves the character, is a comic-book fan, and would relish the opportunity to tell a fantastic, standalone Batman film. But I’d pump my brakes on the trilogy talk until Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice actually screened, because DC has a lot of films on its plate, and Affleck isn’t getting any younger.

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