You might think that would be the end of the world, or at least the end of the #DCEU. But it could also be an amazing opportunity to totally reinvent this universe.
Let's imagine for a second that Affleck does decide to hang up the cowl after this Batman movie is made. What happens next? Do #DC recast and keep Batman around? That's the obvious response, but I reckon there's a more exciting solution — taking The Batman and reworking it into...
'Death Of The Batman'
That's right. DC should kill off Batman.
Disclaimer: I love Batman. Think about it, though — how often does a superhero die and stay dead? In comics, death is never really the end. We knew Superman would be back in #JusticeLeague before he was even in the ground.
But to plot a real death, and to kill the most important hero DC has? That's bold. That's something Marvel haven't done, and more importantly, it gives the DCEU a legit reason to be the bleak, hopeless place Zack Snyder is so determined for it to be. Screw being dark just because that's what Nolan did when you be dark because you just killed your Batman!
It's a game-changer.
And it creates almost limitless new possibilities. We've had eight Batman movies in a thirty-year period. How many stories are left to tell, and how many of them do DC actually plan to tell?
Batman may fight crime in Gotham, but the real crime of his own movie history is that we've seen so little of the Bat Family. Isn't it time we got a proper Batgirl? Considering this incarnation of Batman is older, why not take the chance to introduce his son and heir, Damian Wayne?
Imagine a Batman movie which begins with a Vicki Vale exclusive: Batman is dead.
From there we go backwards as Vale attempts to uncover the "Scoop of the Century!" and shines the light of suspicion on a whole gallery of potential murderers, everybody from Alfred to Superman, with Bruce Wayne's final days brought to life in a series of flashbacks. It would be a killer way to introduce all the regular Gothamites from the pages of DC Comics who've been neglected for so long on the big screen.
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Even more thrillingly, it would also be a chance to introduce Dick Grayson into this universe, either as Robin or Nightwing. Having a protégé of Batman as Gotham's protector is a dynamic we've never seen done in live-action media, and it might just make up for Snyder's unfathomably weird decision to kill Jason Todd off-screen long before the events of Batman v Superman.
If your immediate response to the idea of DC killing Batman is to freak out, fair enough. It's controversial. But sometimes risks pay off, and this one would alter the fabric of the DCEU in a massive way. It could be brilliant.
Still, I'm toying with "if"s here. Ben Affleck may not be going anywhere. But, should he choose to call it quits, the death of Batman could be a rebirth for this perpetually dark universe.
Would you be open to 'The Death Of Batman,' or would the joke be on DC?