An air of confusion has taken hold of the DCEU and Warner Bros. As WB goes through a round of shake-ups amid at the company, the DCEU has not escaped unscathed. While WB has put its focus on scrapping much of its streaming-exclusive content, the DC theatrical slate has actually remained fairly stable (at least for now). One film set to debut as a part of this DCEU big-screen plan is next year's Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
Aquaman 2 will see the return of Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry as he forms an uneasy alliance in an attempt to save the fate of Atlantis. One small tidbit that had fans excited for the movie was the inclusion of Micheal Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman.
So confusion arose when it was revealed that Keaton would not be participating in the underwater epic, and, in fact, Ben Affleck would be back as the Caped Crusader. This move caused many to question if Warner Bros. was pulling back on Keaton's importance in the DCEU moving forward, but it turns out it was for another reason entirely.
A Bout of Keaton Confusion
As part of a larger Warner Bros. report, The Hollywood Reporter uncovered the actual reason for Micheal Keaton being replaced by Ben Affleck in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.
The outlet said that Keaton's scenes were changed in the Aquaman sequel because test audiences found his appearance confusing, with people wondering how this version of the Dark Knight found his way into this universe.
Keaton is set to be a massive part of next year's The Flash, where his return will be explained in full.
DC's Dark Knight Dilemma
While there may be other reasons for Micheal Keaton getting cut from Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, right now this is what fans are going to have to go on. And it kind of makes sense.
For much of the movie-going audience, Micheal Keaton in the DCEU is still an unknown commodity. He is set to play a key role in Ezra Miller's The Flash next year, where audience members will be given context for how Keaton's version of the Dark Knight made it into this universe.
Seeing as Ben Affleck is a familiar face within these movies, sure, it may be a good idea to include him rather than Keaton without context. However, if the Batman (1989) were to show up before this valuable context is given, it would not be the first time a character made such a movie in the comic book movie genre (just look at Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg in Batman v Superman).
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is set to hit theaters on March 17, 2023.