Warner Bros. and the DCEU are having a rough time following the recent cancellation of HBO Max film Batgirl, with new updates continuing to surface. In a report providing more information about the turn of affairs, The Hollywood Reporter (THR) revealed that Michael Keaton was originally set to reprise the role of Batman — not just in the axed show, but in The Flash movie and the upcoming Aquaman sequel as well.
The report cites several sources saying that the actor had shot scenes for Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom, but test audiences allegedly found his presence confusing because “it was unclear what Keaton’s Batman was doing in this universe.” The same piece also highlighted the character’s description as an “elder statesman who could pop up in multiple films and offer guidance,” much like Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in the MCU.
In light of the response, the scenes were later discarded and reshot with Ben Affleck’s version of the Caped Crusader, with Jason Momoa confirming his co-star’s return on Instagram. The reasoning for the change is currently unknown, though THR noted that the movie was originally meant to be released after The Flash, which would put Barry Allen in a situation that involves time-travelling. It’s likely that Keaton’s Batman was one of the planned outcomes of Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom, but the order of events will no longer fly now that it’s coming after The Flash.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is premiering on 17 March 2023, and will star Jason Momoa as the titular superhero, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, and Nicole Kidman. The film is written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Momoa, with James Wan serving as director.