Although The Flash is finally pointing the spotlight on Ezra Miller’s version of the Scarlet Speedster following his appearances in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Justice League (both versions), this movie will also mark the end of an era. Ben Affleck has said this will be his final time playing Batman in the DC Extended Universe; going forward, the Caped Crusader mantle will be filled in this continuity by Michael Keaton’s Batman, who’s also appearing in The Flash and will return in Batgirl. Affleck has also said that The Flash contains his favorite scenes he’s ever done wearing the cape and cowl.
It’s good to hear that Ben Affleck had a satisfying time playing Batman following his bad experience on Justice League, but I’m hoping that Affleck’s Bruce Wayne gets a worthy sendoff, as opposed to just interacting with Barry Allen at the beginning of the story, and then never seen again. In fact, if The Flash plays its cards right, it could deliver a more emotional ending than Flashpoint, the 2011 storyline that loosely inspired this movie.
How The Original Flashpoint Story Ended
Among the major ways the main DC timeline was changed in Flashpoint was Thomas Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s father, fighting crime as Batman instead of his son. In this version of reality, it was Bruce who died that night in Crime Alley, resulting in his father becoming a brutal vigilante and his mother, Martha Wayne, being driven insane and becoming The Joker. Upon learning from Barry Allen how Bruce was still alive in the original timeline, Thomas agreed to help Barry change history back to the way it was. In the final issue of Flashpoint, Thomas was seemingly fatally wounded (it was revealed years later that he survived, but that’s another story), and before Flash raced off to restore the original DC timeline, the older Batman gave the super speedy hero a letter to give to Bruce.
Upon returning the DC timeline to a more familiar, yet changed state (with Flashpoint ushering in the New 52 continuity), Flash headed to the Batcave to deliver Thomas Wayne’s letter to Bruce Wayne, who was now back to being Batman. The words from this alternate version of his father were enough to bring Bruce to tears, and he thanked Barry for both bringing him the letter and telling him about what has transpired in the Flashpoint reality. This moment was later adapted in the animated movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.
What We Know About Ben Affleck’s Batman In The Flash
While Warner Bros and DC are still keeping tight-lipped on how Ben Affleck’s Batman fits into The Flash, there are a few things we know. For one thing, it’s likely that we’ll reunite with this version of the character early into the story, before Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen starts racing through time and space and meets Michael Keaton’s version of the Caped Crusader along the way. A leaked set video also showed a stuntman dressed as Affleck’s Batman driving down a street on the Batcycle, so he’ll at least get to see a little bit of superhero action, as opposed to simply appearing in civilian form.
When it was announced back in August 2020 that Ben Affleck was reprising Bruce Wayne/Batman in The Flash, director Andy Muschietti stated that the character is a “very substantial part of the emotional impact of the movie.” The filmmaker specifically noted that this Bruce and Barry relate to one another through both having lost their mothers to murder, which is one of “the emotional vessels of the movie.” Affleck also recently said that his role in The Flash is a “nice finish” for his DCEU tenure, and in addition to his acting duties, the actor reportedly contributed to the movie’s script. So he had a hand in crafting how things are going to end for his character.
How The Flash Can Deliver An Emotional Ending For Ben Affleck’s Batman
Because Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne is filling the role of the older Batman who aids Barry Allen rather than Thomas Wayne, we won’t be seeing Ben Affleck’s Bruce tearfully react to a letter written by an alternate version of his father. But with Affleck having confirmed that The Flash will be the last time we see his Batman, there are certain pieces that can be moved into place so that this movie delivers an even more emotional ending than Flashpoint did, at least as far as Batman is concerned.
As mentioned earlier, Michael Keaton will be the DCEU’s Batman going forward, so just like how Flashpoint paved the way for the New 52, the events of The Flash will at least partially reboot the DCEU. And like in Flashpoint, it’s a good bet these changes to reality will be triggered when Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen races back in time to stop his earlier self from saving his mother. When the comics version of Barry did this in Flashpoint, he witnessed three different timelines merge into the new DC Universe, but for The Flash, I’m hoping that Barry’s attempts to fix the DCEU timeline allows him to reunite with Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne one last time.
Perhaps as Barry is witnessing the DCEU being changed, he catches a glimpse of Affleck’s Bruce, if not outright interacts with him. However, rather than witness his fellow Justice Leaguer as his normal Batman self, Barry would see this Bruce in a reality where he’s happier. The best way to accomplish this is for Thomas and Martha Wayne to never die that night in Crime Alley, meaning Bruce never had to become Batman, but Barry could also simply see his Bruce in an emotionally-healthier place, allowing him to be a better Batman.
Either way, upon fully returning to the DCEU proper, Barry races to the Batcave to see how Bruce is, only to find Michael Keaton’s incarnation of the character there rather than Ben Affleck’s. The real emotional gut punch would be if Barry’s memories were altered so that he believes that Keaton’s Bruce has always been around, although I personally hope that if we get an ending like this, Barry remembers Affleck’s Bruce and takes comfort knowing he’s now living a better life in a different timeline. In any case, just like what Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy did for Christian Bale’s Batman, The Flash has the opportunity to provide a definitive ending for Affleck’s Bruce; one I argue could be even more of a tearjerker.
With The Flash slated to arrive in theaters on November 4, fingers crossed that this movie sends off Ben Affleck’s Batman in a fitting fashion. His narrative arc didn’t unfold as originally planned (i.e. through Justice League sequels and his own movie), but as one of the biggest DCEU players, this Bruce Wayne deserves to have his story closed out in an emotional way. We here at CinemaBlend will keep you in the loop on any new details concerning Affleck’s role in The Flash, as well as any major news items on other upcoming DC Comics movies.