Ben Affleck to return as Batman?

Say what you will about the Batman V Superman and Justice League films but for my money one thing they got right was Batman. Ben Affleck owned the role and made it into something new. A brutal and powerful Dark Knight, his version of the Caped Crusader was a force of nature.

With the failure of the Justice League movie and the Batman solo film going to Robert Pattinson, it appeared that Affleck had hung up his tights. But with the recent announcement of the Snyder cut of Justice League on HBO Max, that may all have changed.

Via WeGotThisCovered:

As per the scoop from tipster Mikey Sutton, “Snyder could be allowed to make up for lost time and make more DC-related movies if his cut of Justice League is successful.” Although, these future projects would very likely end up on HBO Max “since censorship and compromise won’t be an issue.”

With confirmation that Matt Reeves’ The Batman won’t be considered official canon and Keaton’s return opening up the multiverse, it’s also been claimed that Affleck’s take on the Dark Knight would be an HBO Max exclusive, with the streaming service primed to be the new home for more mature and adult-orientated DC content.

With the rumor mill having recently gone into overdrive, Affleck’s return is looking more likely by the day, and the thought of HBO Max becoming the go-to place for DCEU stories that are made with complete freedom and the absence of the studio interference that’s plagued the franchise so far could turn out to be a masterstroke by Warner Bros. from both a creative and commercial standpoint, one that would guarantee a huge influx of subscribers as a result.

Extended cut of Batman Forever

The third Batman film of the 80’s into the 90’s, Batman Forever these days is associated with bat-nipples and camp but many forget that it was a roaring success at the time of its release and demanded a sequel almost right away… and we know how that turned out.

Joel Schumacher developed a different vision of Batman from Burton’s that was camper and had a kind of neon noir look to it. It has its moments and is at least better than Batman and Robin but I can’t say it is high on my list of Batman movies. Nevertheless I have to admit that I am intrigued by a longer cut that delved more deeply into the darkness of Batman’s inner world.

Via ComicBook:

A super-sized version of Joel Schumacher‘s Batman Forever reportedly exists in the form of a nearly three-hour director’s cut. Writer and podcaster Marc Bernardin reported on Fatman Beyond that he had it on very good authority that a 170-minute cut of the movie exists, but that Warner Bros. has never made a move toward releasing it because they weren’t sure whether there was a market for a longer, darker version of a lighthearted, popcorn-movie version of Batman. The film, in which Val Kilmer played Batman while Chris O’Donnell played Robin, Jim Carrey was The Riddler, and Tommy Lee Jones was Two-Face, was a turning point for the character.

When Batman came out in 1989, Tim Burton rebelled against the camp and silliness that most non-comics audiences associated with the character as a result of the wildly popular 1966 Batman TV series. Burton went darker still with Batman Returns, and when Warner Bros. wanted to try something else for the third movie, Schumacher presented a neon-technicolor film, saturated with camp and bringing the spirit of the ’60s show to the big screen.

“I have it on pretty good authority that there exists in the Warner Bros. vault a 170-minute cut of Batman Forever,” Bernardin told his co-host Kevin Smith. “I think that it went much deeper into his childhood psychosis and his mental blocks and that it was a more serious, darker version of that movie that was one of the first assemblies that Joel filed with the studio and they eventually cut it down because they were like ‘it’s too dark for kids. We gotta sell these Happy Meals, so maybe let’s not invest ourselves in the trauma of childhood murder. We’ve got Jim Carrey, let him do some s–t.”

Smith said that while WB might doubt it, he strongly suspects fans would like to see the extended cut, noting that post-laserdisc and DVD, audiences are smart enough to understand the differences between cuts.

See my review of Batman Forever here

Batman 234 “Half an Evil”

By Denny O’Neill, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano

A comic that featured the triumphant return of a classic villain, Half an Evil is a fun Two-Face story. Full of clues related to the number two and a scheme involving an old pirate treasure and an inflated hot dog this feels more like a silver age story than a bronze age one.

This issue also provides a quick read up on the origin of Two Face and a quick update on his previous appearances. It’s considerate given that the villain had appeared quite some time ago in the series.

Batman is in his metropolitan era and has abandoned the Bat Cave for a penthouse base of operations. Appearing before the commissioner, there is a very humorous sequence in which he spooks a city official. Neal Adams is gifted at not just telling dynamic adventure stories but can tell a good joke as well.

The mystery is pretty straight forward and involves Batman tracking down Two Face’s henchmen who are seeking out an old book on an ancient pirate, Captain Bye. Of course Bye could also be heard as Bi as in bisect… more two-related clues. Batman follows the clues to an old schooner which promptly sinks into the water. Tracking the path of the ship, Batman finds it again using the inflatable hot dog to bring it back to the surface. The ship has taken on a new passenger, a drunken hobo in a raft.

On board the ship, Batman and Two-Face do battle and the caped crusader is KO’d. Two-Face finds Captain Bye’s treasure and is about to depart when Batman tricks the foe into using his coin to decide the fate of the hobo. While Two-Face is working on rescuing the man, Batman frees himself from his ropes and knocks Two-Face out.

I’ve been reading some lovely Bronze Age Batman stories and it’s surprising how few involve classic villains. As a modern era reader, I’m used to seeing the rogue’s gallery in every other issue but back in the day it was a rarity to see them. As such this issue stood out for me. As a fan of Two-Face, I was also pleased to see the villain.

For any reader on a budget, this issue can be found in Showcase Presents Batman Volume 6.

Ryan Reynolds to appear in Justice League film?

It’s like the old days all over again as rumor and hearsay surround the Zack Snyder cut of the Justice League. It can be seen in the trailer that Alfred is addressing a character who gives off a greenish hue in one scene so I always suspected that GL was going to turn up and was disappointed when that didn’t happen.

While the Green Lantern movie was a dud, Reynolds has new cache as a film star thanks to the Deadpool movies. Having him appear as the emerald guardian could be easier than re-casting the part. But we shall see.

More below via ScreenGeek:

Ryan Reynolds has morphed into an A-list actor, becoming a box office staple in films like Deadpool and Detective Pickachu. His journey to becoming a beloved star wasn’t always the easiest for Reynolds, who was often straddled with underwhelming big-budget projects early in his career. Along with playing a bizarre version of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Reynolds starred in DC’s long-awaited Green Lantern adaptation. While the star brought his usual charm to the project, he was sadly straddled in a thankless blockbuster that did little to reinvent its familiar formula.

Considering its’ been nearly a decade since that film bombed with critics and audiences alike, many assumed that Reynold’s time as Hal Jordan was over for good. Well according to Grace Randolph, Ryan Reynolds could potentially return as the Green Lantern, with the actor rumored to have a cameo role in the Snyder Cut of Justice League. The YouTube personality goes on to explain how Reynolds has always been a vehement supporter of Zack Snyder’s original vision for Justice League, believing that Reynolds and Warner Brothers are close to finalizing a deal.

Michael Keaton to play Batman in The Flash movie?

The new Flash movie is gaining momentum as rumors abound regarding the plot and cast. So far the rumor is that the film will focus on the Flashpoint storyline from the comic books in which the The Flash travels to an alternate universe in which Bruce Wayne is murdered in Crime Alley instead of his parents and his father Thomas becomes a brutal Batman. If true, this could be a knock out film and a return to form if the casting of Keaton is true.

More as it comes…

Flashpoint Batman (Kevin Porter)

Via The Wrap:

After nearly 30 years, Michael Keaton is in talks to return to the role of Batman, to appear alongside Ezra Miller in Warner Bros.’ upcoming movie “The Flash,” TheWrap has learned exclusively. Talks with Keaton are in the very early stages, it is far from a sure thing, and can go either way. No details are currently available about how big or small Keaton’s role is.

That plot will introduce general audiences to the idea of the multiverse, one of the of core concepts underpinning DC Comics. For the non fanboy set, the multiverse refers to a shifting number of alternate universes that coexist within the larger reality depicted in DC comics. Originally created to explain various contradictory changes the company’s characters experienced over decades, it allows several different versions of the same characters to simultaneously exist and, occasionally, interact. Matt Reeves upcoming “The Batman” will not be affected and Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne is still viewed as the future of the franchise.

One notable component is the idea that in every single universe, Earth is always home to a larger than normal number of superpowered heroes and villains whose actions often have galaxy-spanning consequences.

Justice League Snyder Cut Teaser

The movie that fell so far from its mark, Justice League is a mess. The studio reduced much of Snyder’s cut down to fit into a shorter run time then reshot sequences by Joss Whedon, changing 70% of the finished product from where it had started.

Finally fans will get a chance to see what director Zack Snyder intended his film to look like. The teaser hints at the inclusion of Darkseid, something that was part of the two movie concept initially conceived for Justice League. The movie will be presented on HBO Max as a miniseries.

Justice League Snyder Cut finally a thing

When Zack Snyder was hired to direct the Justice League movie, everyone knew what to expect. Plenty of dark brooding scenes. Dark action and violence. General darkness. When the film was finally released after much of it was reshot by Joss Whedon, it was a disaster. The tone of the movie was all over the place and the forced comedy was awful. And then there’s Cavill’s upper lip to deal with. The movie bombed but fans were left with the question, “what had Snyder intended?”

There had been a rumor that a Snyder-directed cut existed for some time and while there have been many nay-sayers, it can finally be revealed that not only does it exist, but we’re going to get to see it in a novel way.

More below:

Via THR.com

HBO Max will debut the project in 2021 — possibly in a four-hour director’s cut or in six TV-style “chapters” — as the helmer gets the gang back together with the original postproduction crew to score, cut and finish visual effects.

It was very early on a Monday morning in November when director Zack Snyder and his wife and producing partner, Deborah Snyder, received a call from their agent. Let’s be a bit more precise: It was 7 a.m. But more importantly, it was the day after the second anniversary of the release of Justice League, the DC superhero movie that Snyder was forced to exit due to a family emergency, which was then substantially reshot and retooled by replacement director Joss Whedon.

In the time since its release, something unusual happened: A growing movement of fans, rallied by the hashtag #ReleasetheSnyderCut, had called, agitated, petitioned — even bought a Times Square billboard and chartered a plane to fly a banner over Comic-Con — for Snyder’s version to be released. And on the film’s second anniversary, the hashtag had its biggest day ever — with even the movie’s stars Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck adding their voices on Twitter.

So here, the morning after, was their agent saying that Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures, was acknowledging the movement, and more importantly, was willing to accede. “This is real. People out there want it. Would you guys ever consider doing something?” was what Emmerich was asking, Zack Snyder recalls.

The answer to Emmerich’s question, a whispered-about secret for months, was revealed Wednesday when Snyder confirmed, at the end of an online screening of his 2013 movie, Man of Steel, that his version of Justice League was indeed real. And that it will be coming to HBO Max, the WarnerMedia digital streaming service launching May 27, and is expected to debut in 2021. 

It is currently unclear what form Snyder’s Justice League will take. Whether it will be released as an almost four-hour director’s cut or split into six “chapters” has yet to be decided, but the Snyders are now in the midst of reassembling much of their original postproduction crew to score, cut, add new and finish old visual effects, and, yes, maybe bring back many of the actors to record additional dialogue.

Also unclear is the cost of the endeavor. One source has pegged the effort in the $20 million range, although another source says that figure could be closer to $30 million. The parties involved had no comment.  

“It will be an entirely new thing, and, especially talking to those who have seen the released movie, a new experience apart from that movie,” Snyder tells The Hollywood Reporter, noting that, to this day, he has not watched the version released in theaters.

“You probably saw one-fourth of what I did,” the director notes, basing his judgment on what has been shared with him of Whedon’s version.

Before Emmerich came calling, says Snyder, “I always thought it was a thing that in 20 years, maybe somebody would do a documentary and I could lend them the footage, little snippets of a cut no one has ever seen.” 

But, adds Deborah, “With the new platform and streaming services, you can have something like this. You can’t release something like this theatrically, but you could with a streaming service. It’s an opportunity that wasn’t there two years ago, to be honest.”

It is a very unlikely development, and the latest twist for a movie that has, like the Man of Steel himself, seen death and rebirth.

Snyder was in a unique position when he shot Justice League in 2016. Warner Bros. had entrusted its universe of DC characters to one filmmaker — him — and he had been building toward a great onscreen team-up, though not without some bumps in the road. He began with Man of Steel, which grossed $668 million worldwide, then followed up with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the 2016 blockbuster that polarized fans with its dark take on the iconic titular heroes and took in $873 million globally. 

In January 2017, Snyder had what he considered his optimal version of Justice League, almost four hours long, although he knew it was something the studio would not release. Warners wanted a cut in the two-hour range, and he delivered a rough version with an approximate two-hour, 20-minute running time. That was the first cut the studio saw. Both sides agreed that there was much work still to be done before the November release, but tragedy struck the Snyders when their daughter, Autumn, died by suicide. A month and a half later, Snyder officially stepped away and Whedon was brought in.

League opened Nov. 17 to weak reviews and sluggish box office, eventually taking in $658 million worldwide. However, almost immediately a movement was born. Fans unhappy with the film created the now-infamous hashtag. A Change.org petition for Warners to release Snyder’s version had already garnered over 100,000 signatures less than five days after the movie’s release.

Forget that the version that fans wanted technically didn’t exist. What did exist was a semi-unfinished work, with no visual effects, no postproduction. One person who had seen that version described it like a car with no panels, just a drivetrain and some seats. And it sat on a hard drive in the Snyders’ house. “When we left the movie, I just took the drive of the cut on it,” says Snyder. “I honestly never thought it would be anything.” 

In the year following their daughter’s death, the Snyders closed circles around their family as they tried to heal from the tragedy. “The first year was about the milestones and the holidays,” recalls Deborah. “Now, it’s not those but other moments, like songs that trigger memories, that hit me unexpectedly.”

Adds the director: “As a family, as a couple, I think we have grown in a way that has made us stronger. We’re doing our best. You really can’t hope for more.”

The duo also became involved in suicide-prevention charity work and plotted a return to movies with Army of the Dead. Meanwhile, #ReleasetheSnyderCut became more organized and visible, gaining mainstream media attention. Snyder fed into the movement by occasionally teasing images from his movie or storyboards on social media, in some ways only stoking the hot embers. And he saw some of the seeds he planted in his movies, especially in his castings of Gadot as Wonder Woman and Momoa as Aquaman, grow into gardens as the spinoffs became pop culture phenomenons and billion-dollar hits.

It was on the two-year anniversary, however, that the zenith was reached and the hashtag became a top worldwide trend. “#ReleasetheSnyderCut is the most-tweeted hashtag about a movie that WB has ever made, but it’s a movie they’ve never released,” says Snyder. “It’s a weird stat but it’s cool.”

After the Saturday morning phone call, the Snyders began to move puzzle pieces into place. “We had to figure out what it meant to finish it, and how do you pull it off?” recalls Deborah.

The couple put together a presentation and, in early February, invited a select group of executives from Warner Bros., HBO Max and DC to their house in Pasadena to screen Snyder’s little-seen version that was shown in black and white. The number of execs in the room — there were more than a dozen in attendance, ranging from Warners’ Emmerich, Carolyn Blackwood and Walter Hamada to HBO Max’s Kevin Reilly, Sarah Aubrey and Sandra Dewey to DC’s Jim Lee — showed the importance of the potentially extensive undertaking. Heads of physical production and business affairs were there to assess what needed to be done and how much it would cost. At his presentation after the screening, Snyder outlined ideas for not just releasing the cut but the concept of episodes and cliffhangers.

The executives left the meeting pumped. The Snyder Cut was real. Except then it almost wasn’t.

The novel coronavirus struck, and Hollywood all but shut down in mid-March. Says Deborah, “People thought, ‘It won’t be possible to ramp up, and that maybe this should go on the back burner.’ But we said, ‘No, this is the right time’ because our visual effects houses that rely on so much are running out of work, so now is the time to be doing this.” It also helped that many of those post facilities had held on to the original assets.

Snyder also spent April and this month reaching out to the sizable cast, giving a heads-up on the new development and letting them know their services may be needed. (The first person called: Ray Fisher, who played Cyborg. “He was like, ‘You’re kidding me, right?'” recalls the director.)

There is no schedule going forward at this stage for the project as talks are now beginning with postproduction houses, which also gives HBO Max plenty of time to find the best way to present this version of Justice League. Snyder is at the same time in postproduciton on Army of the Dead, his zombie thriller for Netflix that is also to debut in 2021.

For the Snyders, the chance to revisit the movie also brings the prospect for closure on a project they were forced to let go. “This movie was the culmination of a hero’s journey that all these characters went on,” says Deborah. “And the idea was always to build them up to be the heroes people expected them to be.”

And while the cut will contain the many elements Snyder has teased over time (yes, expect Darkseid), the duo also relish adding a fair amount of character development: “What’s so lovely about this is that we get to explore these characters in ways that you’re not able to in a shorter theatrical version.” 

The Snyders know that fan power is what led to the Snyder Cut becoming a reality. “Clearly this wouldn’t be happening without them,” says the director. He also credits Warners for living up to its old reputation as the filmmaker’s studio.

Adds Snyder, “This return to that pedigree and to let my singular vision of my movie be realized, in this format, in this length, is unprecedented and a brave move.”