Ben Affleck was once the core creative force behind the DCEU's Batman, set to act, write, direct, and produce the caped crusader's solo movie before giving up the creative reigns and losing enthusiasm for the role, but now there's new rumors that he'll be back after all - what's going on?
When Ben Affleck signed on to play Batman, one of the great icons of superhero lore and modern blockbuster cinema, his career had reached new heights. After a period of bad movies and personal turmoil, he established himself as an acclaimed director with films like Gone Baby Gone and The Town. Argo landed him the Best Picture Oscar and a whole host of outcry after he wasn’t nominated for Best Director. In the space of a decade, Affleck had gone from much sought after leading man to tabloid joke to serious artist. He had limitless options ahead of him. The fact that he decided to take on the hefty mantle of a big-screen legend speaks volumes.
As divisive as Affleck’s casting was at the time, it made a lot of sense, both from a creative stance and from Affleck’s point-of-view. He wouldn’t just be playing Bruce Wayne – and Affleck’s brand of slightly smug charisma was always ideal for the Wayne side of Batman – he would be writing and directing himself in a solo Batman movie. Now, he could be both a leading man and an auteur, and in a role that had gained new life as a serious endeavor thanks to the Christopher Nolan trilogy and work of Christian Bale.
Of course, as we now know, things didn't go as planned. While Affleck's work in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was reasonably well reviewed, the film was not. Justice League was a further disappointment and it became tough to ignore the problems surrounding the DCEU. The Batman solo project never seemed to get off the ground. The film that was announced in October 2014 remains in production. Affleck was announced in 2016 to be directing and co-writing with Geoff Johns, then the Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment. Shooting was rumored to begin in early 2017, but in January of that year, Affleck stepped down as director and was replaced by Matt Reeves. Later that year, it was confirmed that Affleck's script was being re-written. Affleck remains signed on to play the lead role, but since then, there have been myriad rumors that Affleck is eager to get out of his DC contract. Affleck and DC initially denied these issues, but DC’s long-time PR problem couldn’t ease those concerns, especially once the Sad Affleck meme was born.
- This Page: Affleck Was Promised a Very Specific DCEU Batman Vision
- Page 2: Affleck's DCEU Role and the Future of the Franchise
Affleck Was Promised a Very Specific DCEU Batman Vision
The DCEU has made a lot of changes during its short run of only five films. Zack Snyder, the director of three of these films and the main creative force of the franchise, had a distinct vision in mind that DC and Warner Bros. seemed 100% behind at the time. It seems that the original plans for the franchise were slower paced, more detailed and less tied to the Marvel formula of expanded universe franchise film-making. Instead of focusing on a whole universe of characters the Man of Steel arc was intended to continue through five movies including Batman v. Superman and a possible Justice League trilogy. This series would center on Superman, with other DC icons entering as supporting characters before getting their own solo outings outside of Snyder's core Superman story.
Snyder's planned build-up to Darkseid in Justice League via the character of Steppenwolf seems to have been a potential set-up for a version of Final Crisis, the Grant Morrison written comic event where Batman sacrifices himself to kill the Lord of Apokolips. If this were the case, then Affleck’s five-film contract would be completed as Batman would have come to a fiery and highly satisfying end. Logistically, it would have made sense for Affleck to keep his Batman run reasonably short, since it's doubtful Affleck and Warner Bros. would have wanted to keep him in the role well into his late 40s and early 50s.
Whatever the case, the Batman narrative Affleck signed up for is not the one he and audiences got. The franchise has tried to make drastic changes in style and tone, Justice League swapped directors and now DC Entertainment is undergoing major management restructuring. The vision for Batman's arc that made Ben Affleck to get over his bad memories of Daredevil – the movie he considers his only career regret – probably doesn’t exist anymore.
Page 2 of 2: Affleck's DCEU Role and the Future of the Franchise
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