Warner Bros' worst-kept secret is now open knowledge, as the studio has confirmed the all-but announced Ben Affleck solo Batman movie.
The disclosure came at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, a global "gathering of movie theatre owners". Warner Bros Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara made the reveal, also confirming that Affleck would direct the film.
Affleck had been rumoured to be working on a script for a standalone Batman feature for months, and was recently stated to be working with DC Comics' chief creative officer Geoff Johns to pen the screenplay. Indeed, when he signed up to play the Caped Crusader in Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman, it was with a view to write and direct a solo project.
However, no information was given on when the "Batfleck" movie would be released, or what it might entail. Although the film itself was critically panned, Batman v Superman did lay the groundwork for either prequels or sequels exploring Affleck's take on a tortured Bruce Wayne, with mysteries such as why Wayne Manor was in ruins, or what happened to Batman's allies other than loyal butler Alfred.
A new solo Batman movie was always a "when" rather than an "if" though. When Warners revealed its ten-strong slate of DC Comics movies in 2014, Tsujihara said further standalone films for Batman and Superman would be revealed in addition to the rest of what has come to be known as the DC Expanded Universe.
Batman is also DC's most popular character, onscreen and off, and after the success of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, the studio was never going to shy away from the character on the big screen for long.
Affleck will next appear as Batman in August's Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer. The movie, which follows a group of supervillains forced into doing the US government's dirty work, has (almost paradoxically) a much lighter tone than Dawn of Justice.
It also features Jared Leto as the Joker, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc – all Batman villains in the comics – with Leto's Joker in particular potentially revealing more of this Batman's history.