When rumours started circulating about Ben Affleck‘s solo Batman project last year, one of the most persistent was that the film wouldn’t just feature one or two classic Batman rogues, but it would rather feature a whole bunch of them. Some supposed that the setting would be Arkham Asylum, perhaps a story where Batman would have to fight all his bad guys video game style in order to get out of the storied mental health facility alive. Of course, the only confirmed thing we know is that Joe Manganiello was going to play Deathstroke as the film’s main villain, but with Affleck out as director, what changes may come…?
A new article in Forbes offers some alleged insight into what Affleck and co-writer Geoff Johns were cooking while Affleck was proceeding as the film’s eventual director. “The story for The Batman originally included the assassin Deathstroke as a main villain, with Joe Manganiello cast in the role, as well as a few other likely villainous appearances by characters including the Joker, according to sources familiar with the project,” the article said.
The above is not exactly breaking news, so to speak. Shots of Manganiello as Deathstroke already spoiled that particular plot detail, and it seemed like an awful lot of care has been taken so far in the DC Extended Universe to set up an on-screen confrontation between Batman and the Joker (the 20 second chase scene flashback in Suicide Squad notwithstanding). But with Affleck downsizing his role to merely star and producer, it will be up to the new director to decide whether or not they’ll keep the Affleck/Johns (with doctoring by Chris Terrio) script.
According to Forbes:
How extensive the process will be — I’m hearing anything from “major rewrites” to “a completely new script,” including starting from scratch on the story if that’s what it takes — is unclear, not just to us but probably to those involved as well, since the new filmmaker might look at the story and script and decide there’s plenty to salvage that appeals to them. Once the director is in place, more will become clear, but for now Warner Bros. is suffering far more negative perceptions than they need to, simply because of the attempt to slow and control the spread of information. The fear this causes and the speculation arising from that fear is far worse than whatever reaction resulted from putting the current known information out there for public consumption. Likewise, the more the press and public get the impression they can’t trust public statements and the more the flow of information is slowed and controlled, the more it feeds the perception that larger problems loom for the DCU.
“Problems” is the key word about all of Warner’s current development on their DCEU film series. Presently, only Aquaman is in pre-production with an expected start date of April for an October 2018 release. Meanwhile, The Flash is undergoing a page one rewrite, the status of Justice League Part 2 and Man of Steel 2 is somewhat up in the air, apparently work is being done on a Shazam/Black Adam two-parter and a Gotham City Sirens film, and supposedly casting is underway on the Green Lantern Corp movie for 2020.
As for The Batman, there’s still no official release date for the film, but the word is that Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Cloverfield) is the frontrunner for the vacated director’s chair. We’ll keep you posted with the latest developments as they occur.