Warner Bros. may be looking to replace Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader in “The Batman,” following the 46-year-old actor’s recent rehab admission on Aug. 22.
Affleck has held the role of Batman for two DCEU movies so far, including “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League.” He was scheduled to resume the role for the upcoming movies “The Batman” and “Justice League Part Two,” but his future with Warner Bros. is currently shaky.
Why Is He in Rehab?
Affleck reportedly checked into alcohol rehab following an intervention staged by his former wife, Jennifer Garner. While one rehab shift would be permissible for an actor, this is Affleck’s third time in rehab and his second in just over a year.
Interestingly, the comments sections following the initial reports on Affleck’s condition had a lot of fans asking the same question: “What does he have to drink about?” The actor has had a long and troubled history with alcohol, but with his successful acting career, it’s an issue that many cannot comprehend.
While Affleck’s life seems pretty good to most people, it appears that the most recent admission into rehab may give him something to worry about since now his career is at stake.
How Does This Affect His Upcoming Role?
Well, it turns out that the third time in rehab’s the charm to send Affleck’s insurance costs through the roof. At this point, Affleck is considered to be as high of a risk as they come, and the insurance agencies aren’t taking any chances. With Affleck being an almost-guaranteed issue, the costs to keep him on the set may not be worth it in the long run.
According to Fox, an attorney who specializes in insurance told TheWrap, “He would be bondable, but the deductible would be really high, probably the budget of the film.”
Other insurance experts speculate that the cost could be only half of the film’s budget, but that’s still a pretty penny. Using the recent $300 million “Justice League” budget as an example, having Ben Affleck in “The Batman” would raise Warner Bros. costs to anywhere from $450 million to $600 million, and that’s before marketing costs kick in.
If Warner Bros. knew that the movie would cover those expenses, keeping Affleck as Batman would be a no-brainer. But with the string of recent DC movie disappointments, Affleck may not be a great investment at this time.
What Are the Alternatives?
Warner Bros. could always choose to do the movie without insurance, but that’s an incredibly perilous endeavor for a $300 million budget. Many have pointed out that Mark Burg took that risk with Robert Downy Jr. back in the late ’90s while Downy battled substance abuse, but “The Gingerbread Mans”’s budget was only a tenth of what “The Batman” will probably be.
Another option is for Warner Bros. to pay the exorbitant premiums to keep Affleck and then instate a plethora of on-set conditions that Affleck has to abide by to keep the insurance company happy. The requirements would include passing a medical exam and taking a daily drug test by an insurance-chosen doctor.
Forcing Affleck to follow these rules isn’t unreasonable, but it would obviously be costly and inconvenient for the production. However, that may be the only way to ensure that Affleck stays insured and investors stay involved.
According to a dealmaker who spoke with TheWrap, “Financiers and producers are going to want to see some evidence that his recent round of therapy was effective and that there are going to be some steps taken that he will be sober on his next project.”
Who Would Be the Next Batman?
The character of Batman has been played by a number of star actors over the years, and each time fans adjusted to the new timeline presented in the movies. Christian Bale, Michael Keaton and George Clooney are just a few of the iconic men who have held the mantel of Batman on screen, and each one brought something special to the role.
Among this list, Affleck was generally praised for his performances in the two most recent DC movies involving the Caped Crusader. Unlike many previous Batmen, Affleck had the formidable visage and physique that one would expect Batman to have. Despite complaints about his “bat voice,” he did a good job in the role and was expected to keep playing the character for some time because of his popularity.
But as it turns out, dropping Affleck may not be a huge blow to director Matt Reeves’ idea for “The Batman.” Apparently, Reeves was already planning to use a younger version of Batman for the upcoming film and replacing Affleck may be a lot easier than decreasing his age on screen.
Several months ago, rumors surfaced that Jake Gyllenhall and Jon Hamm were possible Batman replacements for the next movie even before Affleck’s third round of rehab was announced, but nothing has been confirmed. However, neither of the actors really allow for a younger version of Batman.
There’s also a report that Warner Bros. has been talking with Oscar Isaac about a large role in “The Batman,” but they haven’t confirmed what that role is yet. It’s possible that Isaac could be the next Batman, but he could also be the next villain. Hopefully, Warner Bros. will release more details soon, but a lot may still depend on how Affleck deals with rehab this time around.
What Will Happen to Affleck?
Speculations about Affleck’s future are all over the place, but anything could happen right now. If Warner Bros. goes with Reeves vision for “The Batman,” they can find a young actor to replace Affleck now and possibly use him for “Justice League Part Two” if he’s recovered by then.
This could also be when Affleck truly hits rock bottom, and only time will tell if he makes a comeback. He’s played in a couple of smaller movies recently, including “Triple Frontier” and “The Last Thing He Wanted.” Once he gets out of rehab, the actor could do what others have done before and work his way back to the top through smaller films.
One attorney told TheWrap, “In the grand scheme, Affleck has a proven track record of critical and commercial success. I would expect that there will still be a market for him as an artist.”
There is still a chance that Warner Bros. will stay loyal to Affleck and keep him in place for the fans. Hayley Smith, a public relations expert from Boxed Out PR, is fairly certain that Affleck will resume his role once he recovers.
“He has a fan base, and this will drive people to watch the film,” she said. “It will be in the production company’s best interest to protect their financial investment, but it will also be their responsibility to protect their actors and cast … It won’t look too good if they are seen to be kicking him while Ben is down. The only reason that Ben would definitely lose this role was if he couldn’t recover or his rehab and recovery interrupted or delayed filming.”
Hopefully, Smith is right, and fans will see Affleck resuming his Justice League role in the future, at least. For now, he needs to focus on getting his life back together before he can come back and be the hero Gotham (and DC fans everywhere) deserves.