Warner Bros. moved the start date for The Batman’s principal photography again — to the end of 2019 — so serious headway on the Matt Reeves helmed film will not be made until a year after the release of Aquaman. That’s the story coming from The Hollywood Reporter and it jibes with earlier rumors the movie wouldn’t get released until 2020 or the year after.

But, there is apparently more to it than that. Ben Affleck is reported to be exiting the role of the Dark Knight officially, true to persistent rumors his status was in doubt. The actor and Oscar-winning director was suffering from personal issues related to alcohol and returned to rehab, but he was also having creative differences with Reeves, who might not want Affleck as Batman.

The expectation has been Reeves would recast the part with a younger actor. Jon Hamm’s name is one that came up, but Hamm says he has never been given an offer related to wearing the cape and that it’s all a lot of Internet chatter. Jake Gyllenhaal’s been mentioned too as a replacement, yet another rumor shot down by the Donnie Darko and Nocturnal Animals star. Gyllenhaal will grace screens this summer as Spidey villain Mysterio in Far From Home.

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Nevertheless, Reeves is moving forward every day on the project. He worked hard all summer on his first draft and reportedly turned in another one at the end of 2018. His stated aim is to make The Batman a standalone film that might not connect to DC’s Extended Universe or anything from the past.

Why that’s no surprise is Reeves’ desire fits the goal of the studio: fixing the broken DCEU by starting from a cleaner slate. Said goal is supported by the remarks made by Amy Adams and others that Warner is “revamping” their DC franchise. Those involved obviously have some inkling that change is afoot.

The ball already started rolling with Aquaman. In the blockbuster, Mera and Arthur make reference to the climax of Justice League and Steppenwolf as background information then it’s never mentioned again. On top of that, they introduced a version of Aquaman’s original and best-known costume.

And what’s more telling is the way Warner Bros. is pacing themselves with their upcoming slate. After Shazam! this spring, the next release, Birds of Prey, won’t be for another year. Wonder Woman 1984 will be the big release occupying the summer 2020 slot so they can wait on The Batman and give Reeves the time he needs to perfect his story.

One thing they seem to be learning is not to rush or overdo things.

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Writer, journalist, comic reader. I cover DC. Fan since Batman TAS was brand new. Favorite character: Swamp Thing.

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