Ever since Justice League hit theaters (and underperformed, both critically and commercially), there’s been a lot of chatter about Ben Affleck’s future as Batman in the DC Extended Universe. While both Affleck and DC/Warner Bros haven’t officially commented on the matter recently, numerous reports have come out saying that Affleck is either hanging up the cape and cowl after Matt Reeves’ Batman movie or is never returning to the role.
Once you also throw in the other movies that the actor in the works, it definitely seems like there’s an expiration date on Batfleck. However, there is a way for the DCEU to keep Ben Affleck around as Bruce Wayne without having him put on the Batsuit again: have him mentor his longtime partner Dick Grayson, who becomes the new Batman.
The majority of you reading this already know about how Dick Grayson crosses paths with Bruce Wayne and becomes Robin, so I won’t bother going over that DC Comics history. What is worth saying is that we know for a fact that Dick exists in the DCEU. Sure, Zack Snyder envisioned the Robin suit from that memorial in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice belonging to Dick, but with a Nightwing movie in development, we can reasonably assume that Dick is still alive in this continuity, and that it was Jason Todd killed by The Joker, just like in the comics.
That being said, there’s been absolutely no mention of Dick Grayson in any of the DCEU movies yet. Even if we didn’t know Nightwing was being worked on, the fact that Bruce Wayne was fighting crime solo for who knows how long before the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice means that he and Dick went their separate ways at some point. Whether this was because of a nasty falling-out or Dick just decided it was time to strike out on his own, we can deduce that he’s built a new life for himself elsewhere (cough Bludhaven cough) and is beating the pulp out of criminals either still as Robin or in the Nightwing guise.
Director Chris McKay, who’s been attached to helm Nightwing since it was first announced, recently said that the movie isn’t dead, although we’re still in for a long wait for it. And in the case of Batman, it’s been rumored several times that Matt Reeves’ standalone movie will cast a younger actor to play the Dark Knight, indicating it will show one of Batman’s earlier DCEU adventures. While both of these movies sound like they’d be interesting to watch, why not mix them together in a way? Give fans a ‘passing of the torch’ story where Bruce asks Dick to become the new Batman, but Bruce sticks around to make sure Dick is Batman-ing right.
It’s not like there isn’t precedence for Dick Grayson becoming Batman. In the ’90s, Bruce appointed Dick to fill in as Batman after recovering from having his back broken by Bane and leaving Gotham City to reevaluate his life’s mission. More than a decade later, Dick put the Batsuit on again when Bruce was believed to have died, and during this period he fought crime alongside Damian Wayne (as seen below). Hell, even after Bruce returned, Dick continued serving concurrently as Batman up until the New 52 reboot.
Zack Snyder’s casting an older actor as Batman was due to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice being partially influenced by The Dark Knight Returns, but by doing this, it also cut down on the amount of time we could spend with this iteration of the character. Bruce tells Alfred in Batman v Superman that they’ve been waging war against bad guys for 20 years, and in Justice League, he admits to Diana that he “can barely do it now.” Even if Affleck wasn’t going to exit the role now, there’s only so much longer he could keep going. But by selecting Dick Grayson to succeed him, Affleck’s Bruce, should he be injured or just decide he can’t be a vigilante anymore, can still be involved in this life, albeit in a behind-the-scenes capacity.
Currently we already have a live action Dick Grayson: Brenton Thwaites on Titans. Thwaites’ Dick is still Robin, but he’s much more brutal towards criminals. Executive producer Geoff Johns has confirmed that we will see Titans‘ Dick eventually become Nightwing, and since the Nightwing movie is a long ways away, maybe it’s worth taking the DCEU’s Dick on a different kind of journey. He can still be Nightwing for a little bit, but then during this particular story, he can transition to being the new Batman.
Admittedly, having Bruce Wayne mentor a new Batman sounds a lot like Batman Beyond. And honestly, if next year’s Joker movie is successful, I wouldn’t mind a non-DCEU Batman Beyond movie being put into development that introduces Terry McGinnis to the live action realm. (Maybe Michael Keaton could reprise Bruce?) But as far as the DCEU goes, Dick is the best candidate for succession, and it’s easy enough to envision Bruce sticking around, be it just for one story or longer.
With eight live action, standalone Batman movies, as well as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League (not to mention various animated movies), it’s becoming harder to put a fresh spin on the Caped Crusader on the big screen. While I’m game to see a new version of Bruce Wayne leave his mark on the Batman film legacy, at least having Dick wearing the Batsuit would be all-new territory for the silver screen. Legacy is an important part of the DC universe, so why not bring this into the DCEU? Dick is certainly more than qualified for the job, and since his TV counterpart is on the path to becoming Nightwing, this way viewers get variety with him.
Do you want to see Dick Grayson become Batman in the DCEU?