The DC Cinematic Universe has had difficulty finding smooth waters in its first few installments. While it’s seen box office success and strong support from some segments of fandom, the overall reception by audiences and critics would be best described as polarizing. The future of the DCEU is also in question. Early looks at Wonder Woman and Justice League appear to be positive, and there’s still a lot of enthusiasm for Aquaman, but past outings have many of the franchise’s detractors primed for disappointment.
The circumstances surrounding some future properties have also been seen as signs of concern. The Flash has already seen two directors, Seth Grahame-Smith and Rick Famuyiwa depart, and now, after weeks of negative speculation, Ben Affleck has also stepped aside as director for The Batman. Fortunately, Affleck’s departure is notably different from Grahame-Smith and Famuyiwa’s. While The Flash directors both exited their project due to “creative differences”, Affleck is merely lessening his workload. (Producing, writing, directing, and acting in a physically demanding role for such a big blockbuster is quite a tall order.) The current front-runner for the gig appears to be Matt Reeves, who’s viewed positively by many fans after his massive accomplishments with his modern Planet of the Apes franchise.
Almost immediately after the news of Affleck’s decision to step aside, former Affleck collaborator and DC fanboy Kevin Smith received tweets from fans urging him to step up and direct. He quickly shot these down, tweeting back: “I’m flattered. But 3 things make me directing Batman impossible: 1) Haven’t spoken to Ben in years. 2) I made YogaHosers, 3) Common sense.” Now Smith has taken to his YouTube channel to discuss his thoughts on Affleck’s departure along with Marc Bernardin for their Fatman on Batman podcast:
“Here’s my hot take. What’s the upshot? Seriously. Everybody wants that to be the greatest Batman movie ever made, and you know, in many cases, maybe the greatest Batman movie ever made has been made, called The Dark Knight, it’s a pretty wonderful film. If that’s your bar for a Batman standalone, Chris Nolan couldn’t even measure up to himself with The Dark Knight Rises.”
This take makes a lot of sense. When the DCEU is already under fire and the pressure for The Batman to be the greatest installment in the franchise sets a high bar for Affleck to meet, especially when it will invariably also be compared to The Dark Knight.
“..so maybe he’s the kind of guy who’s just like why bother. Why am I going to step up to the plate, no matter what I do people are going to b****. If it ain’t f****** The Dark Knight, I’m f*****…”
Smith’s thoughts certainly paint a realistic scenario, even if it only is a part of the picture. Ben Affleck himself commented several times on the pressure and stress associated with the film, which likely served as a major influence for his decision, especially if he’s anticipating a reaction similar to the one described by Smith.
While he doesn’t want to direct it himself, Smith and Bernardin did provide their own list of directors they thought would turn out a great movie, including Tim Miller (Deadpool), George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), Rian Johnson (Looper), Denis Villeneuve (Arrival), Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop), Miguel Sapochnik (Game of Thrones “Battle of the Bastards”), Lexi Alexander (Punisher: War Zone), Mary Harron (American Psycho), Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs), Gareth Evans (The Raid), and Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer).
As Smith says in wrapping up: “There’s going to be a movie called The Batman. Someone’s going to direct it.” With a long-rumored start to production in 2017, hopefully, there’ll be an announcement soon.