When Ben Affleck succeeded Christian Bale as cinema’s new Batman, naturally it was expected that we would be spending many years with the actor wearing the cape and cowl. However, following his turns as the Dark Knight in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Justice League, Affleck officially retired as Batman at the beginning of 2019, resulting in Robert Pattinson coming in months later to take over on The Batman.
Shortly after exiting The Batman, Ben Affleck said that one of the reasons he departed the project was because he just “couldn’t crack it,” but in a recent interview, the actor mentioned that his struggles with alcoholism also played a role in leaving Batman behind. As Affleck put it:
I showed somebody The Batman script. They said, ‘I think the script is good. I also think you’ll drink yourself to death if you go through what you just went through again.’
Ben Affleck spoke with The New York Times about his alcoholism, his split from ex-wife Jennifer Garner and various other topics concerning his personal and professional life. When the conversation turned to Batman, it was noted how Justice League’s problematic production “sapped his interest” in continuing on with the character.
So while the script he’d worked on for The Batman doesn’t sound like it was lacking in quality, this unidentified person’s concern for his well-being if he decided to go for a fourth outing as Gotham City’s shadowy protector weighed on him. Rather risk falling deeper into that dark hole, Affleck kept things in perspective and decided to call it on his tenure as Batman.
Ben Affleck was cast as Batman in August 2013, just three months after Man of Steel’s release and a decade after Affleck’s first superhero outing as Daredevil. By October 2014, Warner Bros announced that a standalone movie starring Affleck’s Batman was in the works, and in the following year, the actor began working with DC Comics writer Geoff Johns on The Batman’s script.
Taking place after the events of Justice League, the original plan for The Batman was for the eponymous protagonist to face off against Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke. Joe Manganiello was cast as the one-eyed assassin, and he cameoed in Justice League’s end-credits scene. Cinematographer Robert Richardson, who was attached to The Batman in that earlier iteration, also revealed that the movie would have seen the masked Bruce Wayne exploring Arkham Asylum.
However, by the beginning of 2017, Ben Affleck stepped down from directing The Batman, paving the way for Matt Reeves to take his place. Once it was revealed that Reeves was writing his own script for the project, the writing on the wall indicated that Affleck wouldn’t be sticking around, and eventually the actor made the split official.
With his time as Batman over, Ben Affleck can next be seen in The Way Back, where he plays a reluctant high school basketball coach who struggles with alcoholism. Affleck’s other upcoming movies he’ll act in include Deep Water and The Last Duel, and he’s also gearing up to direct and produce King Leopold’s Ghost.
As for The Batman, it will be a noir-driven, detective story that reportedly chronicles its protagonist during his second year of crimefighting. Joining Robert Pattinson in the main cast are Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, Paul Dano as Riddler, Colin Farrell as Penguin, Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone, Peter Sarsgaard as Gil Colson and Jayme Lawson as Bella Reál.
The Batman hits theaters on June 25, 2021, and be sure to check out our DC movies guide to learn what else is in development for this superhero franchise.