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5 Things to Expect Now that Ben Affleck Is Batman

Now that we've all had a few hours to digest the head-scratching Ben Affleck is Batman news, here are five things this dubious casting announcement implies.

5. Chris Nolan's Bat Saga Is A Closed Book
Irrespective of how you feel about The Dark Knight Rises overall, the final installment in Nolan's Batman arc did bring the saga of his Bruce Wayne/Batman to a definitive conclusion, one that's not entirely dissimilar to Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns. After all, both that book and Nolan's movie end with Bruce saving Gotham from anarchy and then faking his death and surrendering the mantle of the Bat so he can run off and play house with a younger woman -- surrogate daughter Carrie Kelly on the page (though romance is thankfully not in the picture there) and surrogate girlfriend Selina Kyle on the big screen. Nolan's Bruce is now free to spend the rest of his life sipping Fernet Branca in Italian cafes, secure in the knowledge that his cowled legacy and Gotham itself is in the capable hands of John "Robin" Blake. (Although with no Alfred around to patch him up, dollars to donuts that dude buys the farm his first time out in the suit.) It's rare that one director gets to both begin and end a comic-book franchise, so good on Warner Bros. for allowing Nolan's Dark Knight run to stand on its own like a prestige-format graphic novel. And now, Affleck doesn’t have to feel compelled to mimic Christian Bale's Bat-voice. Seriously, Ben, leave it alone; it sounded dumb enough coming out of Bale's mouth.

4. The Long-Awaited Kevin Smith/Ben Affleck Reunion Will Happen in Podcast Form
Once joined at the hip, Smith has intimated on a few of his many, many podcasts that he doesn't see much of his old pal Affleck anymore. Now that Holden is Batman and Silent Bob hosts a little online aural program called "Fat Man on Batman," Smith would seem to have a reason to get in touch with the guy if only so that he doesn't have to subject listeners to another one of those "FMOB" installments where he literally reads a comic book at you for an hour. And maybe Affleck could return the favor by giving the Bat-freak director a small role in Superman vs. Batman. Because that worked out so well in Daredevil

3. Joseph Gordon-Levitt Will Make His Marvel
With JGL now officially freed from the Batcave, look for Marvel Studios to make a full-court press to bring Robin into the fold for their Phase 3 line-up. Already rumors are swirling that he'll be Doctor Strange (though I'd personally prefer to see him as Edgar Wright's Ant-Man, because that combination sounds too terrific to pass up), but it's easy to imagine Marvel handing him a check, a bunch of comics and just saying "Okay… who do you want to play?" Besides being an excellent thumb-in-the-eye poke at their Distinguished Competition, locking down JGL for one of the company's typically lengthy, multi-film contracts would give them a potential linchpin for a new Avengers line-up as the old guard is gradually phased out or undergoes recasting-inspired face-lifts. (On the other hand, after the Green Lantern and R.I.P.D. debacles, poor Ryan Reynolds would probably have to pay Marvel to be brought back into their fold.)

2. Exit Zack Snyder
Let's face it -- Snyder's continued presence on the DC payroll is more for practical reasons than artistic ones. The fast turn-around time on Superman vs. Batman meant that Warner figured they'd be better served by keeping him in place simply to get the damn thing in theaters, despite his problematic direction on Man of Steel. And this way he can train his very own replacement, Affleck, who spent much of last year denying rumors that he'd be directing a Justice League movie. And like his new Batman, Snyder probably took this assignment with the understanding that Warner would fund one of his pet projects down the line. Can anyone say, Sucker Punch 2?

1. There Won't Be Another Solo Batman Flick For a Good Long While (Ditto Superman)
As the production schedule is shaping up now, Superman vs. Batman (or whatever it'll eventually be called) won't hit theaters until 2015 and if it's a hit, a Justice League team-up -- DC's Holy Grail -- will almost certainly follow, by 2017 at the earliest. That pushes the chances of another Batman or Superman standalone outing back until at least 2019 and while Henry Cavill will only be a spry 36, Affleck will be closer to 50, which is bordering on recast territory for anyone in the comic book movie genre not named Robert Downey, Jr. In fact, one of the reasons Affleck probably agreed to do Warner this solid in the first place is that this Batman is going to be part-time, supporting-role commitment for the next six years, allowing him to still pursue his directorial career (he's supposed to be helming the crime drama Live by Night, his second Dennis Lehane adaptation after Gone Baby Gone, in the next year or so) and act in more upscale fare like David Fincher's Gone Girl. And when 2019 rolls around, he could theoretically pass the mantle off to a younger guy via a Batman Beyond-type scenario, freeing him from ever having to carry his own Bat-movie. (Although, given the fact that two out of three of Argo's producers have now played Batman -- specifically George Clooney and Affleck -- Grant Heslov should really get first-refusal rights next time the role is recast, age be damned.) So don't worry, fanboys! If you hate the idea of Batfleck, you probably won't have to see very much of him.

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