The latest shift in Aquaman 2 release date indicates that Ben Affleck will return as DCEU’s Batman. The merged DCEU and Warner Bros. Discovery have devised a 10-year cinematic plan for the franchise. The studio is taking DCEU very seriously, making big changes in the plans and schedule. Recently, numerous developments have also started bringing Ben Affleck’s Batman into the mix. Note that Affleck has reportedly retired from the role.
Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom were rescheduled to December 2023. Affleck is reported to have filmed an appearance in some capacity for the film during the summer of 2022. Affleck’s Batman, played by Michael Keaton, will reappear in The Flash. Keaton’s caped Crusador will be there because Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) will transverse the Multiverse. We know that Aquaman 2 and The Flash have been released in the original order they were intended for. But, Affleck’s appearance in both movies indicates that there have been significant changes behind the scenes.
Affleck’s appearance in the second Aquaman is said to be a trade-off for a cameo Keaton. The appearance has originally planned for Affleck’s Bruce Wayne. However, it might not be in Batman garb. Reportedly, The Flash is seemingly pushed to June 23, 2023, followed by Aquaman 2 release. So, the appearance of Affleck’s Bruce Wayne in the latter will seemingly show a business-as-usual affair. Note that Affleck once praised The Flash for “putting a nice finish” to his Batman time. In that case, his DCEU appearance again might indicate Affleck’s return as a Batman in DCEU.
A while back, Michael Keaton was thought to be the future Dark Knight. Affleck’s replacement of Keaton was initially believed to test the confusion in the audience. And since Aquaman 2 is coming on screen after Aquaman 2, Keaton’s appearance has little context. The Scarlet Speedster’s movie was changed to be the first, re-contextualizing Affleck’s roles in both movies (the two having made Affleck’s Batman record unlikely to be overcome). Affleck’s appearance in the second Aquaman is unlikely to establish anything in The Flash due to their release orders. It also effectively makes him the DCEU status quo Batman for Aquaman 2’s timeframe.
The DCEU’s post-Aquaman 2 plans are still unknown. In any case, Matt Reeves’s Joker and The Batman movies will remain outside of continuity. Thus the plans won’t impact them. In addition, Affleck has had multiple returns since Zack Snyder’s Justice League announcement. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that Affleck is likely to continue as the shared universe, Batman. Although Affleck’s roles as Batman have been minor, it is possible that Affleck will continue with his scripted Batman movie. He could also appear in a World’s Finest film alongside Henry Cavill’s Superman or another significant return.
Affleck’s inconsistent Batman status in the past few years jeopardizes his future as Batman. On the other hand, the release order of The Flash and Aquaman 2 with Affleck could be a significant sign. Seemingly, we can expect Affleck to don the cape again and watch over Gotham City by the end of Aquaman.