SAN DIEGO: Ben Affleck dismissed speculation that he is being dropped as Batman during a Warner Bros. presentation Saturday that introduced the “Justice League” and announced a sequel to summer smash hit “Wonder Woman.”
Rumors have been swirling in the US entertainment press that the studio was casting around for a replacement for 44-year-old Affleck to lead a standalone Batman franchise.
“Let me be very clear — I am the luckiest guy in the world,” Affleck told a crowd of 6,000 cheering fans at San Diego Comic-Con.
“Batman is the coolest… part in any universe, D.C., Marvel, it’s incredible. I’m so thrilled to do it.”
He said that after two appearances as Batman in Warner’s D.C. Comics Extended Universe (DCEU), studio bosses Kevin Tsujihara, Sue Kroll and Toby Emmerich had made it clear the part would remain his.
“I believe them,” Affleck said, adding that he would be “an ape on the ground” for Matt Reeves, who is set to direct “The Batman” after scoring a hit with “War for the Planet of the Apes.”
Affleck will don the cape and cowl in Zack Snyder’s “Justice League,” which opens in November. He shared the Hall H stage at Comic-Con with co-stars Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Ezra Miller (The Flash) and Ray Fisher (Cyborg).
Fans were treated to the most extensive footage yet of the fifth film in the DCEU, which was handed to Joss Whedon after photography had beem completed when Snyder’s 20-year-old daughter died in March.
The four-minute reel featured Wonder Woman rescuing children from a robbery and then teaming up with Batman to recruit Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg to a new crime-fighting unit.
– Wonder Woman sequel –
The ensemble cast is supported by Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Willem Dafoe, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons and J. K. Simmons for the movie, which hits theaters on November 17.
The least surprising announcement during the presentation was that a sequel to the standalone “Wonder Woman” is in the works, with Gadot slated to reprise her role as Diana Prince.
No release date or plot details were revealed, but the confirmation was seen as inevitable as the fantasy adventure is most the profitable movie yet from the DC Extended Universe.
Patty Jenkins’s superhero epic, which has taken $767.7 million worldwide, is also set to become the biggest summer blockbuster this weekend — and is already the largest grossing live action movie ever directed by a woman.
“This character is just so incredible. She stands for everything that is good — for love, compassion, for truth, justice and peace. There’s nothing not to love about her,” said Gadot.
The studio also announced standalone Batgirl film, a sequel to “Suicide Squad” and numerous other D.C. superhero movies.
It was a lively panel during which Momoa — who had flown in from the set of “Aquaman” in Australia only the night before — jokingly threw away his chair, breaking it and finding himself forced temporarily to sit on the floor.
The studio offered a short teaser for “Aquaman” after Momoa ran on stage, trident in a hand, to a soundtrack of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile.”
– All-time favorite –
“We can’t say too much. We’re a ways away, but we made something very, very special,” Momoa told the crowd before presenting footage of a fleet of underwater ships from Atlantis and a group Atlantians riding sharks.
On the non-superhero front, Warner gave fans a first look at Steven Spielberg’s hotly anticipated sci-fi adventure “Ready Player One.”
Starring Tye Sheridan, the movie is based on a 2011 novel about a teenager on a treasure hunt in a virtual reality game, in a world torn apart by an energy crisis.
Warner Bros. delighted fans with a session on “Blade Runner 2049” featuring a new clip of Ryan Gosling’s Officer K being led by a woman in white clothing (Sylvia Hoeks) to a drawer full of small glass balls.
She inserts one into a computer which displays a video of Harrison Ford’s policeman from the original 1982 movie interrogating a replicant.
During a Q&A with the cast and director Denis Villeneuve, the Canadian filmmaker described the first film as his “favorite movie of all time growing up.”
Ford is becoming something of an expert at reprising much-loved characters from the 1970s and 80s.
He revisited Han Solo for “The Force Awakens” (2015), the first of three new “Star Wars” films, and is set to star in a fifth Indiana Jones film in 2019, 38 years after “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was released.
One cheeky fan asked the 75-year-old veteran actor: “Is your life goal to reboot every major franchise you happen to be in?”
“You bet your ass it is,” came the laconic response. — Agencies