2013 could well be the biggest year in Ben Affleck's new found calling as a filmmaker; his third directorial effort, Argo, took home trophies for editing and screenwriting, mere booby prizes next to the film's victory in race for Best Picture, and he's been tapped to play the Dark Knight in the forthcoming sequel to Man of Steel, aka Batman vs Superman. It's hard to top that kind of success, especially in such a small span of time.
That latter development, of course, has set the web on fire, and will likely keep him pretty busy until its release in 2015. But Affleck isn't one to sit on his laurels: his long-gestating Whitey Bulger project remains assuredly in the works, and - more importantly - will be getting a tune-up by a frequent collaborator on the Boston boy's recent output.
As Deadline reports, Warner Bros. - the studio behind not only Batman vs Superman, but also Affleck's Bulger picture - is in the midst of brokering a deal with writer Aaron Stockard to get him on board and perform some maintenance on the untitled film's screenplay. Stockard, who helped Affleck craft the scripts for both Gone Baby Gone and The Town, will be making tweaks to Boardwalk Empire creator Terrence Winter's original draft for the movie; he'll allegedly place emphasis on Bulger's recent trial and conviction for his contribution to the production.
Put simply, that's not too shabby at all. The Town and Gone Baby Gone both boasted strong, economical, character-oriented writing, and so there's a lot for us to read into Stockard's involvement as far as how much the film means to Affleck and Matt Damon (not to mention Casey Affleck, who will also have a role in the feature). Affleck must be sticking with someone he knows and has worked with before for a reason, after all, and if Stockard's writing credits are limited to just those aforementioned movies, he's certainly proven himself in that capacity regardless.
But there are a handful of other elements in play that may be motivating this turn of events, too; Whitey's finally been brought to justice, Batman vs Superman is ramping up faster than a speeding bullet, and rival Bulger picture Black Mass has given Affleck some competition (though leading man Johnny Depp has apparently dropped out of the cast). In other words, this could all be chalked up to a matter of timing - circumstances can dictate a lot as far as filmmaking goes, and with everything surrounding the movie, it seems shrewd to get a leg up on it sooner rather than later.
Of course, there's no telling what all of this means as far as timeline - in between now and Batman vs Superman's release date, Affleck also has an adaptation of Dennis Lehane's novel Live By Night on the schedule - but it's clear that Affleck and WB want to get things moving forward. For all of the reasons that Affleck may have agreed to play Batman, this could be the most prominent: franchise association gives a star clout, and clout can really grease the wheels on a movie's production.
Is that what's going on here? Perhaps, but if nothing else, it's high time that someone told the real story of Boston's most notorious criminal (as opposed to inspired-by narratives like The Departed), and it's fitting that that someone be the city's most iconic contemporary filmmaker - as well as his unsung partner. Here's hoping Stockard makes Affleck's vision shine.
We'll keep you updated on any news about Affleck's Whitey Bulger film as it becomes available.