Ever since rumours began to circulate that Ben Affleck’s time in the Batsuit was coming to an end, Bat-fans the world over have kept asking one question: Who is the next Batman?
Even before Affleck decided to leave the role of the DC Comics character, it became clear to most people that a new Batman actor would be waiting in the wings. As with the James Bond film series, there is always a new actor ready to take on the part for the next generation, it is just a matter of time before the change.
But who would be the next Batman? A well-known actor or a newcomer?
The question persisted for some time, until it was finally revealed that Robert Pattinson would be taking up the cape and cowl to play the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.
Who is Robert Pattinson?
Robert Pattinson is a British born actor who has appeared in television and in film. The actor’s first role was in the TV movie, Curse of the Ring (2004), before he received his big break via Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) – the fourth entry in the Harry Potter film series.
Pattinson’s role as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was small, but it proved popular with audiences and helped him to build a loyal fanbase. This fanbase stuck with the actor as his career progressed with parts in How to Be (2008) and Little Ashes (2008), but it was in Twilight (2008) where Pattinson really made his mark.
Playing the role of Edward Cullen – a vampire who falls in love with a human girl – Robert Pattinson won the hearts of a legion of teenage fans and became an overnight sensation. Dubbed RPatz by the media, the actor’s face was splashed across countless newspapers and magazines, and this remained the norm as he appeared in New Moon (2009), Eclipse (2010), Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011), and Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012) – all additional entries in The Twilight Saga.
With each new entry, Pattinson’s on-screen and off-screen popularity continued to soar, at times eclipsing the movies themselves, but with the conclusion of the Twilight series Pattison was able to shrug off the RPatz name. Keen to move forward with his career, the actor took on a range of roles in films such as The Rover (2014), Maps to the Stars (2014), Queen of the Desert (2015), Life (2015), The Childhood of a Leader (2015), The Lost City of Z (2016), Good Time (2017), Damsel (2018), High Life (2018) and The Lighthouse (2019).
Each new role demonstrated Pattinson’s ability to play more than just a teen idol and this led him to his most high-profile role to date. It was on May 31st 2019, Pattinson was officially announced as the next actor to play Batman in a live-action movie.
With Pattinson’s appointment as Batman, this means for the second time a British-born actor has taken on the role of the Caped Crusader, following Christian Bale’s stint as Batman. Welsh-born Bale played the part of Bruce Wayne/Batman for three movies – Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – and was the first British Batman.
Both Bale and Pattinson have joined an ever expanding list of British actors to take on the role of iconic comic book characters, including Tom Holland and Andrew Garfield who have played Spider-man, Benedict Cumberbatch who has played Doctor Strange, and Henry Cavill who took on the role of Superman for Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017).
Pattinson joins a long list of actors to play the role of the Caped Crusader in a live-action Batman movie. These actors include:
- Adam West (1966)
- Michael Keaton (1989/1992)
- Val Kilmer (1995)
- George Clooney (1997)
- Christian Bale (2005/2008/2012)
- Ben Affleck (2016/2017)
Each of the actors named above have embodied different takes on the Caped Crusader, from grim and brooding (Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck), to light and heroic (Adam West, George Clooney), to somewhere in between (Val Kilmer). As the next actor to become Batman, Pattinson is being given the opportunity to make the character his own, setting a new direction for the Dark Knight.
Why did Ben Affleck leave the role of Batman?
With Pattinson on board as the new Batman, one question remains: Why isn’t Ben Affleck playing Batman anymore?
Before Affleck left the role of Batman, which he played in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016) and Justice League (2017), he was actively working on a Batman movie, titled The Batman – a follow-up to Justice League. Affleck was on board as the director and lead actor, but it never came to pass.
Affleck’s departure from the role began when he decided to exit the director’s chair for The Batman. Speaking in January 2017 (via Variety), Affleck said: “There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions. Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require.
“Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world.”
In February 2017, Matt Reeves was confirmed as the new director of The Batman, with Affleck remaining on board as the star, but within a year Affleck called it quits and walked away completely. Unable to make it work as the director, Affleck ultimately decided to move on from playing the title role too in order for Reeves to take the project in a new direction.
With Affleck out, Reeves decided to recast the role, paving the way for Pattinson to take up the mantle of the Bat. The actor will make his debut in The Batman, June 2021.