Weekend Superhero: February 18, 2017
Batman is having a really rough month. A few weeks ago I wrote about how pressure from the press and audiences was making Ben Affleck consider stepping down from directing a solo Batman film. Well, that happened. Affleck stepped down from the director’s chair, basically implying that the pressure of making a movie on such a beloved character was just too much. I have a sneaking suspicion the decision goes a lot deeper than that. I think Warner Bros’ DC movie universe is just broken, and Affleck is trying to jump ship.
It’s not enough that Affleck turned down directorial duties; new reports state that Affleck might even be trying to get out of playing Batman altogether. Now there hasn’t been much to substantiate this claim; only reports from people “close to Affleck”, which is far from reliable. The problem here is – I believe it. I have absolutely no trouble believing Affleck would want to distance himself from the DC universe. At the surface, Affleck is making it seem as though he just doesn’t like the pressure of being Batman. But Affleck is a smart guy, and that wouldn’t be enough to get him to leave this project.
Ben Affleck has spent a considerable amount of time reviving his career. Thanks to the likes of Daredevil, Gigli, and countless other embarrassing efforts, Affleck was a laughingstock for a while. A new movie starring Affleck was almost always derided and ignored. Then Affleck reinvented himself by going behind the camera. His debut as a director was Gone Baby Gone, a fantastic movie that everyone should see. He followed it up with The Town, in my opinion his best, an incredibly crime drama set in Boston. In that movie, Affleck put himself back in front of the camera as well, and the renaissance began.
Since then, Affleck has delivered stellar performances in almost all his movies, and he has officially rejoined the ranks of the Hollywood respected. So the fact that he wants to walk away from Batman – a role that he actually gained positive reactions from – is quite telling. To me, that signifies that Affleck has been made privy to the inner workings of WB and has seen their plan for the future of DC – and he does not like it.
As I’ve stated, Affleck is a tremendous director, so he understands vision. He has a good instinct for what works and what doesn’t. If he wants out, it’s because he knows what DC has planned will not work. Maybe he doesn’t like the talent they’ve cast, or the directors they’re looking at, or the general plotting of the future. Either way, something must be rotten at WB to make Affleck consider walking away from probably the biggest moneymaker of his career.
It’s not just Affleck anymore, either. Early reports were stating that Matt Reeves (director of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Let Me In, and Cloverfield) was going to take over the director’s chair. However, just a few days ago talks broke down. There has been no indication what the cause of the breakdown was, but I doubt money would be an issue. If there’s anything WB has, it’s money to throw at these monstrosities since they know they’ll turn a profit anyway. The only conclusion I’m left with is that the script is garbage.
I’ve been saying it for a long time: the WB DCCU is broken. They can build on top of it all they want, but when the foundation is made of straw, it’s eventually all going to tumble down. At this stage, they’ve put 3 movies into theater and have completed at least 2 more (Justice League and Wonder Woman). Just let those final 2 come out, and call it a franchise. Then wait a year, and start over. These movies suck. Everyone knows they suck. Ben Affleck knows they suck. What kind of pathetic, denial-driven hysteria are they experiencing at the WB lot to think they can salvage this? I would love to get these execs on a psychiatrist’s couch and find out just how deluded they are. Next thing we know, one of them will run for President.