Ben Affleck signals Batman departure

Ben Affleck Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Affleck has won two Oscars for writing and producing

Holy recasting, Batman! The search is on for a new Dark Knight following Ben Affleck's apparent confirmation that he is hanging up his Bat cape.

The actor effectively said as much by retweeting a story saying Matt Reeves' The Batman would be made without him.

"Excited for #TheBatman in Summer 2021 and to see @MattReevesLA vision come to life," Affleck wrote.

The 46-year-old first appeared as the comic book superhero in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

He briefly reprised the role in Suicide Squad later that year before returning to the character in 2017's Justice League.

Affleck had been due to direct as well as star in "stand-alone" film The Batman, but pulled out of directing it in 2017.

"It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require," he said at the time.

The actor went on to scotch rumours he was giving up the role, saying he was "so excited to be Batman".

The apparent reversal of that position follows him seeking treatment for alcohol addiction last summer.

Ben Affleck with Henry Cavill in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Image copyright Warner Bros
Image caption Affleck made his Batman/Bruce Wayne debut opposite Henry Cavill in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The Batman, which Cloverfield director Reeves will both write and direct, will be released on 25 June 2021.

It will be preceded in cinemas by Joaquin Phoenix's upcoming Joker film, a Wonder Woman sequel and another screen outing for Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn character.

Whoever becomes the next Caped Crusader will continue a distinguished lineage that began in 1943 when Lewis Wilson became the first screen Batman.

Here's a look at some of the most famous actors to inhabit the Batcave.

Adam West

Adam West as Bruce Wayne and Batman Image copyright Getty Images

West, who died in 2017 aged 88, earned a cult following with his tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Batman in the 1960s TV series.

"I'm grateful for the Bat," he would later admit. "I learned a long time ago that because people love Batman, I should too."

Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton with Jack Nicholson in Batman Image copyright Warner Bros/Getty Images

Not everyone welcomed Keaton's casting as Batman in Tim Burton's 1989 blockbuster, in which he appeared opposite Jack Nicholson's Joker.

"In terms of what Tim and I discussed for the movie, I knew we were right on," he said in 2017, 25 years on from his second and final Bat-outing in Batman Returns.

Val Kilmer

Val Kilmer in and out of costume Image copyright Getty Images

Kilmer only made one appearance as Batman in 1995's Batman Forever but still had plenty of time to grapple with the character's iconic costume.

"The suit takes an hour to get into, and you can't do it by yourself, and then you can't hear because there are really no earholes in it," he reflected in 2012.

George Clooney

George Clooney in and out of costume Image copyright Warner Bros/PA

The star of ER was another one-and-done Batman and now expresses misgivings about Batman and Robin, the film in which he appeared.

"I thought at the time this was going to be a very good career move," he told Graham Norton in 2015. "It wasn't."

Christian Bale

Christian Bale in the flesh and as Batman in The Dark Knight Image copyright AFP/Warner Bros

Bale, currently reaping awards and plaudits for his role in Vice, brought both youthful vigour and brooding intensity to the role in 2005's Batman Begins.

"I always thought there could be a really good movie made about Batman," he said of Christopher Nolan's film, which went on to spawn two blockbuster sequels.

Will Arnett

Lego Batman and Will Arnett Image copyright Warner Bros/Reuters

"Lego Batman doesn't know that he is an animated character," says Arnett of the role he's now voiced in three cartoon capers.

"By that I mean I approached him as a character I'm playing with an inner life," continues the actor, who can currently be heard giving his best Gotham growl in The Lego Movie 2.

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