(Photo by Gage Skidmore)
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Unmasked: Ben Affleck steps down from Batman role

Ben Affleck has hung up his cape and cowl as Batman. Affleck’s departure from the role of Bruce Wayne was long expected, as the actor went through a rough patch, both personally and professionally, while he portrayed the character.

After he beat out “Avengers: Infinity War’s” Josh Brolin for the role back in 2013, Affleck’s casting as the Caped Crusader received immediate backlash from comic book fans, with many having claimed that the six foot four actor was not imposing enough for the role. However, Affleck went on to deliver a standout performance as an older, more hardened Batman in the critically panned “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Following the film’s March 2016 release, whispers of Affleck’s possible departure from the DC Extended Universe began.

That December, the Berkeley-born actor’s fourth directorial outing, “Live By Night,” was deemed dead-on-arrival. Then, two stints in rehab to treat Affleck’s alcoholism sandwiched his divorce from long-time wife Jennifer Garner.

So, few were surprised when, in January of 2017, Affleck stepped down as the director of the Batman solo film, for which, at the time time, he was also set to star in. One month later, it was announced that the project’s directorial duties would be handed over to Matt Reeves, best known for having directed the final two installments in the “Planet of the Apes” reboot franchise.

Still, Affleck was contractually obligated to complete his filming for “Justice League,” a film plagued by a directorial firing departure, extensive reshoots and meddling from Warner Bros. — the studio who produces DC Comics films — among other things. The stress of the production were made apparent by Affleck’s noticeable weight gain in certain reshot scenes of the film.

On Jan. 30, the release date for Reeves’ tentatively titled “The Batman” was announced, as was Affleck’s seeming departure from the project when the actor himself quote-tweeted a Deadline Hollywood article with the headline “Ben Affleck Passes The Torch To Next Generation of Bruce Wayne.”

To cement his exit, Affleck, on the Valentine’s Day episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” announced, “I’m not Batman.”

Affleck then explained, “I tried to direct a version of [“The Batman”], and worked with a really good screenwriter, but [we] just kinda…couldn’t crack it. And so I thought it was…time to let someone else take a shot at it. [Warner Bros.] got some really good people so I’m excited.”

“The Batman” is scheduled for a June 25, 2021 release.