Up until July, everyone just assumed Ben Affleck would be playing Batman for a long time. Then a story came out that he was contemplating leaving the role; since then, Affleck has been weaving a beautiful web of uncertainty and nothingness.
His latest quote might be the best yet. Speaking to USA Today, the actor said that appearing in Matt Reeves’ solo Batman film—one he was originally going to write and direct—is “something I’m contemplating.” Then, he added, “You don’t do it forever, so I want to find a graceful and cool way to segue out of it.”
“Graceful” has not exactly described his approach so far.
Let’s go back. On July 21, the first report came out that Affleck might not be playing Batman much longer.
In that story, Warner Bros. said “Ben is our Batman. We love him as Batman. We want to keep him in the cowl as long as we can.”
The next day, Affleck was at San Diego Comic-Con to talk Justice League and attempted to address the rumors:
I am the luckiest guy in the world. Batman is the coolest part in any universe, Marvel DC, anything–I’m so thrilled to do it. Its fucking amazing. I still can’t believe it. Everyone at the studio tells me I’m their Batman and I believe it. And Matt Reeves? I’d be an ape on the ground for Matt Reeves. I’m blown away and its an exciting time in the DC Universe. I’m excited to be Batman.
Which is a long way of saying nothing significant. If he was going to keep being Batman, he would have said that straight out. But he didn’t. A few weeks later in early August, as the news of Joss Whedon taking over the helm of Justice League broke, Affleck said this:
This is a really nice time to work in DC. They’re hitting their stride. They’re getting it right. It’s starting to feel like it’s really working.
Which, again, is a non-answer.
Later that week, Affleck’s brother Casey pretty matter-of-factly said that Ben wasn’t going to keep playing Batman:
He’s not going to do that movie, I don’t think.
But once that statement, which was made on a sports radio show in Boston, got out there, the younger Affleck’s representatives said it wasn’t the case, even though he obviously meant in the moment when he said it.
Then, on September 1, The Hollywood Reporter again said that Affleck was not going to be a part of Matt Reeves’ film, as the publication discussed other potential DC movies.
Which brings us back to now, on the eve of Justice League, and possibly Affleck’s biggest turn as Batman yet. As of now, he’s still the Caped Crusader, still “contemplating” returning, but don’t forget Affleck had a similar will he/won’t he relationship with directing the solo Batman film.
That long history of non-answers resulted in him leaving the film, at least behind the camera—which leads us to believe that this current four-month saga will, eventually, lead to an ending that’s anything but graceful. We hope not, but it sure does seem likely.