SAN DIEGO, July 23, (Agencies): 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, DC, Marvel, it’s incredible. I’m so thrilled to do it.”
He said that after two appearances as Batman in Warner’s DC 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.
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 Nov 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.”
“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.
Spielberg wasn’t sure he was the right director for “Ready Player One,” his upcoming science-fiction epic.
During a panel discussion at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday, Spielberg said that after reading Ernest Cline’s best-selling novel about a virtual reality-addicted future, his first thought was “They’re going to need a younger director.”
Spielberg was joined onstage by Cline and the film’s stars, Tye Sheridan, Ben Mendelsohn, and T.J. Miller. Fans in Hall H were treated to a trailer for a film that overflowed with shout-outs to several geek staples. The gaming world that “Ready Player One” depicts enables players to interact with characters from pop culture staples from the ‘80s and ‘90s, such as “The Iron Giant,” “Tron,” “Akira,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Back to the Future,” and “Nightmare on Elm Street,” to name a few.
“When I read Ernie’s book, it was the most amazing flash-forward and flash-back at the same time,” said Spielberg, noting the movie references an entertainment past he helped shape as the most popular director of the Reagan era. It also depicts a dystopian vision of a future in which people are leaving the United States. Virtual reality enables people to escape from their blighted present.
“You can do anything you can possibly imagine,” said Spielberg.
Creating that world took the filmmaker and his team two and a half years to create, he said. Miller joked that the end result is “a little more accurate than ‘The Lawnmower Man.’”
Spielberg was mum about “Ready Player One’s” twists and turns, but he did spill one plot detail that could lead to fan-gasms.
“The Iron Giant is a real major player in this story,” he confirmed.
Affleck is still Batman. The actor shot down rumors that he would be hanging up his cape for the stand-alone Batman film, even though he recently ceded directing responsibilities.
Neither Snyder nor Whedon were at Comic-Con, although Snyder tweeted Friday that he was sending his best to the “Justice League” team.
The footage focused heavily on Gadot’s Wonder Woman, who emerged as the clear favorite of the fans in the audience who screamed at every shot of the Amazonian warrior. “Wonder Woman” recently became the highest grossing of the four DC Extended Universe films.
Another person missing from the panel was Superman star Henry Cavill. When a young fan asked the actors if he’ll show up in the film, Gadot reassured him. “We can’t say much but if you love Superman you’re going to be very, very happy,” she said.
Warner Bros. also teased a bit of “Aquaman,” out Dec, 2018, starring Momoa in the title role. A snippet of footage from the James Wan-directed film, showed fishermen who are quite surprised when something under the water catches on to the hook and starts dragging the boat along. They look underwater to see a fleet of giant ships coasting under the surface.
Momoa also teased that Ocean Master would be the film’s main villain, though he laughed that he would likely get in trouble for it.
The studio didn’t go past the 2018 slate of films, however.
If Batman and Wonder Woman weren’t enough, Marvel Studios is primed to take center stage in Hall H on Saturday evening.