Last year, the news broke that Ben Affleck would reprise his role as Batman in James Wan’s Aquaman 2, titled “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.” This announcement came as a surprise since Affleck had previously declared that he was done playing Batman in DC’s live-action movies back in 2019, even having a send-off ceremony for his portrayal of the character.
Affleck’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne included appearances in Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the “Justice League” movie, and a cameo in the David Ayer edition of “Suicide Squad.”
However, in 2022, Jason Momoa took to Instagram to reveal that Affleck would indeed return as Batman in the Aquaman sequel, originally slated for a March 2023 release. Due to multiple scheduling changes for both Aquaman 2 and “The Flash,” this plan was disrupted, and now The Hollywood Reporter has disclosed that Batman has been entirely cut from Aquaman 2 after several rounds of reshoots.
Context from The Flash
The change may not come as a shock to those who watched “The Flash” when it finally hit theaters in June, after multiple delays from its original July 2022 release date. “The Flash” soft-resets the DC cinematic universe, reintroducing Michael Keaton as Batman and featuring another guest star for a comic cameo.
Releasing “The Flash” ahead of Aquaman 2 created a continuity problem: After Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) alters the universe’s continuity, Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman is no longer valid in his world. So, how could he return to play the role in Aquaman 2?
Reshoots and a Change in Direction
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the original Batman cameo in Aquaman 2 was supposed to feature Michael Keaton, who had already filmed scenes for the role. However, when the release schedule shifted and Aquaman 2 appeared to be releasing first, Ben Affleck was brought in for reshoots to replace Keaton’s cameo.
Under the leadership of director James Gunn and producer Peter Safran, who have taken charge of the DC cinematic universe, the decision was made to remove the cameo altogether to avoid confusion.
Sources indicate that the latest version of the film features neither iteration of the Dark Knight, as the new heads of DC, James Gunn and Peter Safran, want to avoid promising a movie universe that won’t materialize and prevent excessive ties to past disappointments.
Future Possibilities and the Gunn-Safran Approach
While there is still time for further changes, as Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is currently set for release in December 2023, the appointment of James Gunn and Peter Safran was meant to bring stability and strong decision-making to the DC company.
This shift aimed to create a cohesive strategy for the movies, departing from the previously fluctuating approaches, from a shared universe vision to a series of standalone projects. James Gunn has been vocal about his specific plans for the new DC Universe, suggesting that the departure of Batfleck may be final—until Aquaman 2 hits home video and deleted scenes potentially surface online.
As the DC cinematic universe undergoes continuous evolution and creative decision-making, fans eagerly await the release of Aquaman 2 to witness the direction in which the beloved franchise will ultimately steer.
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