Is Ben Affleck's BATMAN Beyond Saving Or Is The Prospect Of Redemption Too Lucrative For WB To Ignore?

A post-Justice League WB has restructured its film division and announced a number of in-development superhero pics but the studio's biggest question is if and where Ben Affleck's Batman will pop up next.

He is. He's not. No, it's a sure thing, he's coming back. 

Trying to keep up with all the rumors surrounding Ben Affleck's uncertain status as the Caped Crusader can make even the staunchest of DC Comics fans lose their marbles. However, uncertainty has become something of an M-O for WB. Aside from Man of Steel and Wonder Woman, three of the five films released in a four-year span have been critical failures.

The future does look a bit brighter with Wonder Woman 1984 looking to recapture the magic of the first film, along with Shazam! and Aquaman. But just as DC Comics centers its line around Batman, the DC Film Universe will never reach its full potential without the Caped Crusader leading the way. Is Affleck the answer? 

Revitalization and redemption as both a film arc and a real-world manifestation can be a powerful component (see Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr.) and box office igniter. However, there's a lot of changes that need to be made and obstacles surmounted for Affleck's Batman to become a solution and not a problem. Let's explore.

Ben Affleck's Batman Could Turn Up In Other Places Besides Matt Reeves' The Batman

There's been a number of rumors regarding Matt Reeves' standalone Batman film but the latest chatter is that it is a prequel that will depict a younger actor beneath the cape and cowl. If that movie proves successful, then that actor will be moved forward to the present-day DC Film Universe, replacing Affleck. 

However, filming on The Batman is still a ways out. In the meantime, there are a number of places that Batman could show up in as Gotham will likely be the backdrop for a number of films including the 2 Joker movies in development, Nightwing, Birds of Prey, Suicide Squad 2, Gotham City Sirens and Batgirl. 

If the above rumor is to be believed, WB's strategy is to explore as many different possibilities as they can, see what resonates with audiences and then focus on that. If Affleck returns and wins over audiences before cameras on The Batman roll, it wouldn't be surprising to see WB shift gears yet again and reposition Affleck for his own standalone Caped Crusader adventure.

Batman's A Proven Box Office Success

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For a time, Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale's Dark Knight franchise was the studio's lone answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While outnumbered, it certainly held its own. The last two films in the trilogy each grossed more than $1 billion dollars at the box office. 

When taken into consideration that movie studios are naturally averse to risk, it's not hard to see why Batman turns up in so many comics and direct-to-video features from WB Animation - Batman sells.

Of all the DC characters, Batman sells the most action figures, comics, video games and merchandise in general. The idea of just letting Batman fade into the background of the DC Film Universe is one that no film exec would seriously entertain.

The DC Film Universe's Take On Batman Is Fundamentally Wrong

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Cut it any way you want, the DC Film Universe's Batman is a hardcore, gun-toting killer that's a mishmash of various out-of-continuity depictions of The Dark Knight. 

Sure, this version of Batman bears a strong resemblance to the one from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, a beloved graphic novel - but it's that particular world and story that comic book fans, not specifically Miller's take on Batman.

This version of Bruce Wayne is twisted and crude and by extension, so too are his supporting cast. Commissioner Gordon would never allow this version of Batman to operate unopposed in Gotham City and Alfred Pennyworth would have turned him in long ago.

To right the ship and setup Affleck's successful relaunch as Batman, there has to be a shift in philosophy that starts with 2 rules - no guns and no killing.

The Allure Of Redemption And Marked Improvement

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Moviegoers love to see a franchise and characters improve, advance and redeem themselves from one installment to the next. 

There's probably no better recent example of this than the incredible momentum Chris Evans' Steve Rogers gained between Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Another great example would be Tom Cruise's Mission Impossible franchise, which found greatness again with Ghost Protocol. Likewise, 2006's Casino Royale u-turned a 007 franchise that was headed in the wrong direction.

To be clear, Affleck doesn't need to turn his career around. He's a phenomenal actor and an even better director. What needs to change is the trajectory of his turn as the Caped Crusader. Presently, his tenure as Batman is on track to go down as one of the worst stints. A Winter Solider-eqsue standalone feature could easily change that narrative. 

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