Despite the mixed critical reception for both Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad, many are still very excited for Batman’s next silver screen appearance. This is in no small part due to Ben Affleck’s amazing performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Despite being in a movie filled with choppy editing, a confusing story, and some tragically misguided casting (sorry Jesse Eisenberg, but…just no), Affleck managed to make his version of the Caped Crusader the best part of the entire film. Seriously, I didn’t love Batman v. Superman, but I didn’t hesitate to buy the Blu-ray because the batman parts were just that good! So it makes perfect sense then, that the men and women at Warner Bros. are hard at work developing The Batman, the Dark Knight’s first solo film in the DC Extended Universe continuity.
Even better, Ben Affleck himself was going to direct the movie, which seemed like the exact kick in the gonads this franchise needed, considering that Affleck has proved himself to be quite a capable director with films such as Argo, Gone Baby Gone, and The Town. However, as life usually teaches us, turns out it was too good to be true. Ben Affleck has reportedly decided to pass on the director’s chair for this project. Apparently, both he and the studio are in agreement that this is the best course of action, which unsurprisingly, came as a shock to many considering that for months, Affleck seemed completely on-board to write, direct, and star in the movie, ensuring that his vision for the character would be realized. In his statement Affleck clarified:
“There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions. Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world.”
So if anyone was worried that it would no longer be appropriate to refer to him as Batfleck (yes, that is his official internet nickname, and in my opinion, he should legally make that his real name), you may rest easy. Affleck will still star as batman and will remain heavily involved in the writing process, so not all is lost. Though it is disappointing that we’ll never get to see what kind of visual style the Argo director would have brought to a batman film, this is probably the right call.
Think about it, the man is already under immense pressure and scrutiny playing one of the most iconic fictional characters in history, he’s starred in several movies this past year that have bombed, he can’t escape being hounded with batman questions in every interview, he recently separated from his wife, Jennifer Garner (I hate to bring his personal life into this, but I have to take it into account), and on top of ALL that he also has the added responsibility of being the director and calling all the shots? That’s enough stress to drive anyone to the brink of their sanity, especially when it come to a film franchise that is famous for receiving over-the-top amounts of criticism from both critics and its own fan base.
To this day, fans still complain about Man of Steel by saying that Superman uncharacteristically destroys Metropolis in his fight with Zod, even though anyone that was actually paying attention to the film would know how absurd that is (The movie also received a rotten rating of 55% on Rotten Tomatoes, yet somehow gave Iron Man 3 a certified fresh 79%. One of the many reasons why I don’t trust Rotten Tomatoes anymore). Affleck is already in a stressful enough position as it is, but if he chooses to direct this movie and it is anything less than the Second Coming of Batman Jesus, the hardcore fans will waste no time crucifying him (not literally mind you, though I’m sure many of the more fanatical ones would fantasize about it).
Ben Affleck knows this. He experienced this fury firsthand when his casting as the Batman was first announced. So frankly, I’m shocked he was even brave enough to volunteer as director in the first place. Having less stress and responsibilities means he can focus more on perfecting his performance in the role, which in many ways, is the most important part.
Let’s just hope that whoever they find to replace him knows the character of batman and how to make a great film like the back of his/her hand.