A thoroughly exciting announcement was made at San Diego Comic Convention this year, as director Zack Snyder announced that the Man of Steel sequel that we knew was coming would feature Batman – something no one had even hoped for. Yesterday we were treated to another announcement ending the speculation about who was to play the caped crusader in the upcoming Snyder outing – with Ben Affleck confirmed for the role. While Batman and Superman have faced off countless times in comic books, animated series and video games, this will be their first big screen appearance together in what sounds like an epic Batman vs. Superman movie.

There’s still plenty of speculation about the sequel, but here’s what we know so far. The writer of Man of Steel, David S Goyer, has been signed for a three-film deal including the two Superman films and a Justice League film, which is predicted to have a 2017 release date. Zack Snyder is also directing again, and Christopher Nolan will be involved but to a much lesser degree than in Man of Steel, which makes sense – it was important for him to guide the film to ensure continuity between the Dark Knight films and Man of Steel pictures.

Snyder has commented that the sequel will be inspired by The Dark Knight Returns comic book series from Frank Miller, which presents a grizzled veteran Batman coming out of retirement and clashing with Superman. It was believed the studio was looking for an older actor to take on the role this time, but with Affleck a mere 2 years older than Bale this doesn’t perhaps hold water. Josh Brolin, Scott Atkins and Ryan Gosling were also among the favourites of the rumour mill and one tabloid even claimed that Orlando Bloom may be in line for the role. Thank God that didn’t pan out.

The investment in the Superman franchise was made possible thanks to Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Batman Begins, released in 2005, was a huge hit especially in comparison to the 2006 Superman Returns film which was considered a commercial and critical failure. Nolan’s Batman series renewed the public’s interest in a dark version of the comic book world, leading on to console games, some fantastic cosplay and websites like www.thedarkknightslot.net, and the film model which has worked so well for Marvel is finally being picked up by DC.

As for the villains, Lex Luthor is a preferred fan villain, and Bryan Cranston seems like the best bet so far. Warner Bros announced that they would like him for the part, and when asked he said that he was waiting on the call. The Malcom in the Middle actor showed himself to be capable of great gravitas in the series Breaking Bad, and feels like they might try to make Lex out to be misunderstood, loveable and sweet – a perspective not many people tend to hold.

One thing is for sure – Christian Bale will not be back as Batman. There was a brief rumour that Bale was offered $50 million to reprise the role, but it turned out to be from a tenuous source and he has stated many times that he is done with that role. So we have Ben Affleck in the Batman role, with public opinion swaying toward Bryan Cranston for Lex Luthor and a continuation of the gritty series so far.

Now that they’ve locked in a release date – July 17, 2015 – there will definitely be more updates from the film as actors and details get locked in.

What do you think of the casting decisions so far? Sound off in the comments!