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Justice League has finally debuted, and Zack Snyder's film has shown us a Batman unlike anything that we have ever seen before. Ben Affleck's Batman has stood alongside DC's other iconic heroes, and the future has seldom looked brighter for the character. However, behind the scenes, things may change in a significant way, as Affleck may be looking for a way to leave the role very soon.
With Ben Affleck possibly poised to leave the DCEU after this weekend's release of Justice League, then there are a few options at DC's disposal. On that note, let's dive in and talk about how DC and WB could replace Affleck as The Caped Crusader if he does indeed step down.
Recast And Move On
This option is inelegant and straightforward (and it also goes against the report that Ben Affleck wants a "cool" want to leave the role), but it's also something that has worked for other franchises. Just like all of the different Batmen who came before him, Ben Affleck could just step down and allow DC Entertainment to bring a new actor into don the cape and cowl once he has left the role. This option also seems relatively viable, as recent rumors have suggested that Warner Bros. wants Jake Gyllenhaal as its new Batman -- although those stories haven't received a confirmation yet.
Kill Bruce Wayne
Justice League makes it abundantly clear that Bruce Wayne feels a certain degree of survivors guilt over the death of Superman in Batman v Superman. He's willing to lay down his life for the protection of Earth, and there's ample precedent of him making the ultimate sacrifice in the pages of DC Comics. From him getting blasted by Darkseid's Omega Beams (which technically didn't kill him, but it ostensibly did for some time) in Final Crisis, to the final of Batman R.I.P,. there are stories to pull from that take Bruce Wayne off of the game board for some time until a resurrection could bring a new actor into the role.
The Lazarus Pit is a regenerative pool that has allowed Ra's Al Ghul to stay alive for centuries, and the Head of the Demon has often tried to coerce Batman to enter the pool, and take his place as a member of The League of Assassins. While Bruce typically refuses to use the Lazarus Pit in most versions of DC Comics, there have been instances (such as Frank Miller's Master Race arc) in which an older Bruce finds himself submerged in the waters. The older Batfleck could go in, and a younger, recast actor could come bursting out in an insane fury to usher in a new Bat era.
We already know that The Flash: Flashpoint is on the way, and we also know that the film will delve heavily into the Thomas Wayne Batman storylnie -- which may or may not include Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Wayne patriarch. The consensus among fans seems to be that the Flashpoint storyline could afford DC an opportunity to reboot and retcon a lot of the DCEU's issues (a la Days of Future Past for the X-Men franchise), so Barry's return to Earth-1 from the Flashpoint timeline could easily afford the franchise a chance to bring in a new Batman to receive that iconic note from his father.
Replace Him With A Clone
In some versions of the Batman story, Bruce Wayne accepts that the idea of Batman needs to exist far longer than his own natural lifespan. To remedy this, Bruce Wayne devises a system to clone himself to the exact age and mentality that he was when he first donned the cape and cowl, and then repeat the cycle forever. If Ben Affleck's version of Bruce Wayne ever gets too old or injured to continue as The Dark Knight, then DC and WB could have him release a younger clone (a.k.a a new actor) to come into the world and become the new protector of Gotham City.
This one is slightly different from the other options, because it involves shifting Ben Affleck's purpose in the DCEU to a somewhat smaller role, rather than getting rid of him entirely. In the fan-favorite Batman Incorporated storyline, Bruce Wayne becomes the public face of Batman, and devotes his resources to putting a Dark Knight on every continent. Using this framework could allow him to shift away from his role as The Caped Crusader, and then pass down the mantle to someone like Dick Grayson -- who is going to debut in the solo Nightwing movie -- to become the new protector of Gotham City.
Jim Gordon Batman
One of the more interesting Batman stories of the last few years involved Jim Gordon stepping in as The Caped Crusader when Bruce Wayne was presumed dead after a battle with The Joker. Instead of relying on a secret identity and some traditional ninjas techniques, Gordon's Batman became a high-tech supersoldier and a publicly recognized partner of the Gotham City Police Department. This would probably be one of the most radical changes that could take place in Batman's corner of the DCEU, but it could be what the franchise needs to stay fresh. Besides, who wouldn't want to see J.K. Simmons suit up as Batman?
Batman Beyond is the tale of an aging Bruce Wayne grooming a teenager named Terry McGinnis to replace him as The Caped Crusader. Moving the Batman franchise up several decades to the world of Neo Gotham in Batman Beyond could provide DC with a fantastic opportunity to recast Ben Affleck with someone considerably older (while still giving the actor a chance to retire in Bruce's final mission as Batman), and shift the overall Batman narrative to a world that has never been see on the big screen. Many fans have wanted Batman Beyond to become a movie for years and now seems like a perfect time.