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Although the solo Batman movie appears to have once again traction under director Matt Reeves, the future of the character in the DCEU doesn't seem entirely clear. Following Ben Affleck dropping out as the director of his own solo movie, rumors began to surface that the actor may have a genuine interest in simply walking away from the character altogether. In the face of the backlash that Batman v Superman suffered last year, as well as the constant waves of negativity that have been leveled at the DC films, this sadly doesn't seem like the most outlandish possibility.
While Ben Affleck walking away from Batman is not a guarantee yet, we must (in the true spirit of Batman) prepare for anything. With that in mind, we have put together a sequence of events that must occur if Affleck decides to hang up his cape and cowl at some point in the near future. This is a process that will ultimately take years for DC and Warner Bros. to accomplish, and it starts with doing something that no live-action film has ever dared to do with Bruce Wayne.
Kill Bruce Wayne
First and foremost, if Ben Affleck decides to walk away from the Batman role, then Warner Bros. And DC should strongly consider taking his character off of the table for the time being. There's ample precedent in the comics for killing Batman in grand fashion, and Batfleck's admiration of Superman's sacrifice at the end of Dawn of Justice would make for some beautiful symmetry if he similarly gives up his own life. There's a simple reason for this: if they recast Ben Affleck and immediately jump into a new Batman, the shadow of Affleck will hang over the role for years to come. We need some time to breath in between Batmen, and killing Batfleck is the way to make that work. No movie has ever killed Bruce Wayne, and now may be the time to give it a shot.
Pass The Cape And Cowl To Dick Grayson
While DC's best course of action may involve killing Bruce Wayne, it doesn't necessarily require taking Batman off of the table entirely. We've waited long enough to see an older and more seasoned version of Dick Grayson appear on the silver screen, and Ben Affleck's potential departure is the perfect opportunity to bring in Nightwing, and allow him to take up the mantle of The Bat. DC could even make an event out of it by adapting the iconic Battle for the Cowl storyline -- which pitted Grayson against a bitter and angry Jason Todd for the title of Batman in the wake of Bruce's death. Dick Grayson is a fundamentally different and far more lighthearted Batman, and that could be exactly what the DCEU needs. Besides, this would allow for an adaptation of The Black Mirror story arc, and I know we all want that.
Introduce More Human Characters
There's no getting around it; Bruce Wayne is an icon in the DC world, and he is the quintessential human character in a universe populated by super beings. However, taking him out of this world will significantly open up the potential for DC and Warner Bros. to explore other vigilantes and human heroes who populate this landscape. The most prominent hero that comes to mind is Green Arrow (who seriously deserves a movie already), but we could see even more outlandish mortal characters like Ray "The Atom" Palmer, or Ted "Blue Beetle" Kord make their way into the DCEU as well. With less emphasis placed on Gotham's favorite hero, other street-level humans will be able to shine like never before. Oliver Queen has spent enough time on the small screen; it's time to give him his due on the silver screen.
Resurrect (And Recast) Bruce After Enough Time Has Passed
You knew this one was coming. In the same way that there's precedent for Bruce's demise, there's equal precedent for him to return from the grave. Death is seldom permanent in the world of comic books (unless your name is Ben Parker), and DC will eventually need to resurrect Batman after a reasonable amount of time has passed. There's a reason Marvel kept Bruce Banner and Hulk away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe for four years between The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers as they switched from Edward Norton to Mark Ruffalo. It allowed audiences to gear up for another actor to step into the role. There's no way of knowing who DC would pick to take cape and cowl from Ben Affleck, but they definitely would have some serious boots to fill when they finally do.
Do Batman Beyond
This point might just be the 1990s kid in me, but it's about damn time for DC to give Batman Beyond its due in live-action. Much like Dick Grayson, Terry McGinnis is the quintessential smart-ass (while still tonally quite dark) Batman for modern audiences, and giving him the high-tech Neo Batman cowl will ease the burden on whoever takes over as Bruce Wayne in the contemporary timeline. By showing an older Bruce and a younger Bruce, DC can create two Batman storylines that work synergistically with one another. They did this in animation almost two decades ago, and it worked beautifully. Batman Beyond is one of the most popular elements of the Batman mythos, and Ben Affleck's potential departure could represent the perfect opening to finally make it a reality. An army of fans will be thankful in the long run if this happens, and that's worth considering.