With news that Ben Affleck is reportedly looking to exit the DCEU after Justice League, there'll inevitably be another search for the next Batman so that the character can continue on in film for another 74 years.
The first Batman serials began in 1943 and, here in 2017, he's still going strong. There's literally been every iteration of the character - from court jester (Adam West, George Clooney, Val Kilmer to a certain degree) to psychologically damaged (Michael Keaton) to everything in between.
It's true, one of Batman's qualities over other comic-book characters is that he's truly malleable. He can be reinvented and repackaged to suit the times and fashions of whatever period he is in. The first serial, The Electrical Brain, had Batman breaking up a ring of saboteurs from Imperial Japan who were operating in secret in Gotham City. The film was, of course, riddled with anti-Japanese propaganda and racial slurs.
The '60s saw Adam West's swinging Bat-dancing, ridiculously campy Caped Crusader swing into television screens in bright colours and goofy jokes. Batman was as much a joke and a farce as he was an investigative mind, but nobody cared because everyone just went along with it.
By the time the '80s came around, Batman had - in comics, at least - shifted to a much darker perspective. Works like The Killing Joke and The Dark Knight Returns embraced Batman's inherent darkness and focused in on the psychological damage that would drive someone to become a vigilante. Tim Burton's 1989 film took its form from the comics, making Keaton's Batman much more vulnerable and serious than had been on screen up to this point. Batman Returns explored this further, with Selina Kyle reimagined with BDSM imagery.
By the time Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever came around, the corporate culture dictated that it become more palatable and family-friendly - so we had a return to the Adam West, "funny" Batman of yore. This lasted for two films and would have finished it all off, had Christopher Nolan's take on Batman not given it another boost and kept the thing going.
With Zack Snyder's Batman, we've come full circle - we now have a Batman who is bruised, tired, worn-out and angry from years of fighting. He kills people now, something that other iterations of the character never did and he has no qualms whatsoever about it, either. It's no wonder that Ben Affleck wants to move on after Justice League, as there really is nowhere else for Batman to go. He's been written into a corner, the only corner that he hasn't explored and there's not much there. Batman kills people now. Shrug.
In almost all on-screen instances of Batman, it has to be said that his motivations have always been thoroughly explored - even if they're the same. With Batman Forever, Val Kilmer's character chose the life and did so proudly. With Batman Begins, Christian Bale's character believed he could make Batman into a symbol for all. With Batman Returns, Michael Keaton's character used Batman as a way to purge his soul of the rage and anger he feels. Ben Affleck's Batman is a reaction to Superman; he only comes out of retirement because he knows Superman could potentially destroy humanity if he wanted.
We've seen every possible variation and characterisation there is on Batman. We've got Funny Batman, Serious Batman, Killer Batman, Wounded Batman - what's left, really? Even with such a skilled director like Matt Reeves behind the camera and penning the screenplay, it's going to take some doing to bring a fresh approach to a character that's been around for 75 years.
Even with new actors, there's only so many times Batman can be reinvented. Maybe it's time to make for new characters.