In August, Variety reported that Ben Affleck was in talks with Warner Bros. - a studio he's very friendly with having directing The Town and Argo for them - about potentially directing Justice League, stating that he was the only candidate the studio had sent Will Beall’s Justice League screenplay to at the time.
Rumors and speculation had Affleck potentially even putting on the cape and cowl as Batman, taking over the role from Christian Bale, but later Affleck denied it all, admittedly revealing that he thought the Justice League was exciting. As it turns out, he did chat with Warner Bros. about the project, but wasn't offered it.
In an interview with HitFix, Affleck clarified what really happened, explaining that Justice League was one of many project ideas raised in a meeting, but nothing more.
"I just want to make it clear because it’s not like I had something to even pass on. Because someone will eventually do 'Justice League' and they'll go, like, 'Ben Affleck passed on it,' and it won't be true. So I don’t mind setting the record straight. It's one of those things where the closest I came was some people talked to me about it like at a meeting. They were like, 'Here's the stuff we're doing,' you know? 'Here's what we're looking at.' That kind of thing. And they suggested it. But I don’t think there’s a script. I don't think there's anything."
He continued, sharing his belief that Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment can do what Marvel Studios has done, in building their own shared universe, and that they have the characters and stories from the comics to make it happen.
"I think there's a DC Avengers that could be done because they have the characters for it. And there's some stuff in the comics now that's kind of interesting, and it's cool. That's what Marvel does so well. They do a lot of things well, but one of the things that I'm really impressed by is how they coordinated all those movies. I mean, you never see somebody make a whole movie with the eye of, like, building it into new sequels, but that's because you're just hoping it's a hit and you'll do it again.
"But for shooting these kind of satellite movies with the notion that later on you'll build the planet that they're orbiting around, and coordinating it all ahead of time, and imagining how the story's going to work and flow with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, it's a big deal. You don't see that level of organization much in movies. You know what I mean? It's like enough to just get one movie together and off the ground."
Clearly knowledgeable of the comic characters and excited by the idea of the heroes coming together, Affleck doesn't shy away from the idea that one day, he could absolutely direct a comic book film, so long as the story and characters meet his expectations.
"I would love it. My interest is really just in, you know, if I like the characters and if the stories seem smart and surprise me. The things that people look for. So those things exist in the superhero genre. And when they do, I think it’s really exciting. I think they exist in the science-fiction genre. If you look at 'Blade Runner' to 'Alien' to 'Aliens' on down through today. So it’s just about finding a good script, honestly. I wouldn't be into something or not based on the genre."
Audiences who've seen any of Affleck's three directorial efforts can see why an Afflect-directed superhero flick would be something worth seeing and getting excited about, but what Affleck doesn't touch on here is the cost of building a shared universe when it comes to the directorial side of it. Christopher Nolan and the success he had with The Dark Knight gave him the all-access pass to do whatever he wanted for the studio. That's how Inception came to be and that's why The Dark Knight Rises ended the way Nolan wanted it to end. Neither had studio-forced 3D post-conversion because Nolan didn't want it.
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For directors of Marvel Studios' films, with the exception of Joss Whedon, they've (Jon Favreau, Joe Johnston, Kenneth Branagh) all parted ways and passed on the opportunity to direct the next sequels of their respective Marvel films. The reason is that with a shared big-picture-focused universe, each individual film must include very specific character arcs and plot points in order for them to tie-together and remain consistent. Would Affleck, who's publicly acknowledged being very picky when it comes to his films, be interested in a Marvel or DC film where he may not have as much creative control as he desires?
Fun Fact: Affleck was a contender to direct Man of Steel, and 13 years ago was rumored to play Batman.
Justice League could hit theaters as early as 2015, but Warner Bros. has yet to officially reveal a time frame.
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