Director Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has now grossed nearly $700 million worldwide in less than two weeks of release, but the film's not-so-hot word of mouth and significant second weekend box office drop-off have prompted much speculation about how, if at all, Warner Bros. Picture is going to adjust its future plans for the DC Extended Universe in response. One potential (and, by the look of things, likely) outcome of the reception to Batman V Superman is that WB/DC will elect to fast-track development on a DCEU solo movie featuring Ben Affleck's Batman - who, along with Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, is one of the more universally well-received elements of Snyder's movie.
There was talk of WB studio heads being impressed with Affleck's take on the Caped Crusader well before Batman V Superman reached theaters - and as indicated before, the drum has only begun to beat louder for Affleck to direct his own Batman solo film, sooner than later. It has been reported that Affleck has even finished a screenplay draft for the project, and Snyder has likewise said that Affleck committing to direct the movie himself is essential for the film to get off the ground properly in the next few years.
Snyder, when was interviewed by JOE.ie during the promotional tour for Batman V Superman (skip to the 1:35 mark in the video above) offered the following response, when asked if he has managed to convince Affleck to direct a Batman solo/standalone film yet:
"I keep working on him, he's always said he's a one movie at a time guy. He's finishing editing his film, Live By Night and then he comes to Justice League and then after that, I think he's going to try and develop the story. Then we'll see if he likes it."
Affleck and Snyder will be entering production mode on Justice League Part One this month (April of 2016, at the time of writing this) in order to make a November 2017 theatrical release date. WB currently has Live By Night - which, for those unaware, is Affleck's film adaptation of Dennis Lehane's historical crime drama novel of the same name - scheduled to arrive about one month before Justice League, meaning that Affleck will be preoccupied for much of the second half of next year with promoting both movies, one right after the other. Snyder also confirmed to JOE.ie that the idea is for Affleck to direct the Batman solo film himself, having told the site "I think that's kind of the prerequisite, hopefully, for him doing [the film]," so Affleck's availability will be all the more of an important deciding factor that affects when the movie actually enters production.
The DCEU already has a full release slate laid out on through to 2020, but it's easy to envision WB/DC making some changes to provide room for Affleck's Batman solo film on the docket - much like Marvel Studios adjusted its Phase 3 release slate to add films like the Spider-Man reboot and Ant-Man and the Wasp to the mix - especially in order to capitalize on the positive buzz that Batman V Superman has generated and make sure that moviegoers remain interested in seeing more of the DCEU in the future. Affleck has indicated that he's leaning towards directing a Batman solo film for a while now, providing all the more reason to believe that it's less a question of if Affleck will take on the job and more a matter of when the "Batfleck" solo movie will be made and released in theaters, respectively.
Affleck directing his own Batman movie, like Snyder said, is a "prerequisite" at this stage too, seeing as much of the public's interest in the project stems from a desire to see a Batman film that combines elements of Affleck's previous work as a director; including, the gritty crime drama of The Town, the political thriller aspects of Argo, and the moral complexities of Gone Baby Gone, among other things. A Ben Affleck-helmed Batman movie sounds not only promising in that respect, but also refreshingly different from other upcoming DCEU installments, including Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman (a blend of high fantasy and historical war drama/thriller), James Wan's Aquaman (a "fun" undersea adventure featuring horrifying sea monsters) and of course, Snyder's own Justice League movie(s). That's all the more reason for Snyder and his fellow DCEU producers to keep leaning on Affleck to get him to formally commit to making the film, too.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in U.S. theaters. Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020. We'll keep you posted on development of the Batman solo film.