“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”
Those words were famously spoken by Michael Corleone in The Godfather: Part III, but they may as well have come out of the mouth of Ben Affleck’s Batman. Ever since the actor hung up his cape and cowl, DC fans and executives alike have seemingly been begging Battfleck to return.
Those fans will get their wish in The Flash, currently slated to be Affleck’s final role in the DC Extended Universe. However, a new leak suggests there’s one way he might be convinced to come back — and it might also be DC’s secret weapon against the seemingly unstoppable Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Ben Affleck’s Batman and Crisis on Infinite Earths
According to noted superhero leaker KC Walsh, there’s apparently one way Ben Affleck could return to the DCEU post-The Flash.
“Batfleck is still very much done with DCEU,” Walsh tweeted recently, “but leaving the door open for him to come back during a crisis event if he wants makes sense.”
In other words, with The Flash set to reset the DCEU thanks to some multiversal shenanigans, Affleck is making a clean break. The only thing that would bring him back is an epic crossover event on the level of DC’s famous Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Here’s why DC might need to call in that favor sooner than you think.
The DCEU needs to keep up with the MCU
The MCU versus DCEU competition has been heating up, with the multiverse being the shiny new weapon in both studios’ arsenals. Spider-Man: No Way Home teased the infinite possibilities of infinite universes with characters from parallel worlds entering our own. Next, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will take things a step further by throwing Stephen Strange into the multiverse where literally anything can happen.
Even beyond the big two, multiverse stories have never been more popular. Rick and Morty built its fanbase on the concept of parallel universes, while A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once just introduced the concept to a highbrow audience.
DC, which can claim to be the first comic book publisher to popularize the concept all the way back in 1961 with The Flash #123, is also gearing up to enter the multiverse with 2023’s The Flash. But to keep with Marvel, the studio will need an even bigger follow-up. Enter, Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The DCEU and Crisis on Infinite Earths
The source material — Crisis on Infinite Earths — is already there. Even better, the DCEU already has a template for how to pull off this epic comic book crossover event in live-action thanks to the Arrowverse.
In the original comic book miniseries by Marv Wolfman and George Peréz (and in the ambitious five-part CW/Arrowverse adaptation), an alien being called the Monitor tries to stop his evil twin, the Anti-Monitor, from destroying the multiverse. To do so, the Monitor recruits superheroes from all throughout the multiverse to band together against a common enemy.
In the original comics, the goal of Crisis was to simplify DC’s confusing multiverse into something casual fans could understand. On the CW, it was basically a chance to bring together all its DC superheroes.
For the DCEU, Crisis could do a little bit of both. It can redefine DC’s cinematic multiverse while also reuniting its biggest heroes — including Ben Affleck’s Batman. (The fact that the original comic event also ends with The Flash dead may be an added bonus for studio execs struggling to deal with Ezra Miller.)
Speaking of which...
The Flash as a multiverse gateway
The Flash, slated for release in June 2023, is the DCEU’s first step into multiverse storytelling. It will likely be an adaptation of the 2011 comic book series Flashpoint, which sees Barry partner up with his alternate reality self to save his mother from murder.
Ben Affleck isn’t the only actor set to appear as Bruce Wayne in The Flash, either. Michael Keaton will reprise his respective version of the Caped Crusader, and Michael Shannon’s Zod and Temuera Morrison’s Thomas Curry are set to return too. Recently, one leak suggested that Henry Cavill could also reprise his role as the Man of Steel.
While WarnerMedia is attempting to figure out what it should do with its Flash, Ezra Miller, who has displayed aggressive and concerning behavior in recent months, this is still an opportunity for the DCEU to bank on a formula that has already proven successful on TV.
And if the multiverse winds up sucking in this version of the Flash and spitting out one played by a less problematic actor, so be it.