Batman No More?
Ben Affleck has left The Batman.
Well, not AS Batman. Just as the director of The Batman.
While this news is disappointing, it’s not all that surprising. Affleck has been pretty dodgy about answering if he would direct a solo Batman movie going as far back as when he was first cast in the role. After the release of Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad (and the receptions they got), that demand only intensified. Affleck was fielding “when are you working on Batman” for months, and it reached a fever pitch while he was promoting Live By Night, his latest directorial effort. Add in the fact that the head of Warner Bros was pretty adamant that Ben Affleck would be directing The Batman, even going so far as to announce it at a trade show without talking with the star in the first place, and it’s easy to see why Affleck would walk from the directing duties.
But at the same time, there’s something to be said for stepping back when you think you are going to get in over your head. Affleck’s statement that was released says that he wants to be “fully committed” to playing the role, and he doesn’t think he would be able to give his full attention to the project if he was directing and acting in the movie. For a guy who clearly takes criticisms to heart (I’m sure the box office and critical receptions for his DC appearances and Live By Night haven’t made him feel great) I’m not surprised he wants to take a step back. Plus taking on a movie as big as The Batman would be nothing like anything he’s directed before. It seems like this is a way for Affleck to step back and focus on the aspect of the DCEU that truly needs him: his portrayal of Batman.
I’ve gone on at length about Affleck’s Batman in Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, and I still believe that he’s the best thing in both of those movies. Hell, it’s not even a stretch to say that he’s the best thing in the DC Cinematic Universe so far. He’s an integral part of the DC movie world, and I think Affleck realizes that. He knows that the movies need him, and in deciding to step down as the director of the solo Batman film to fully commit to playing that role, that shows.
But while it’s commendable for Affleck to step down, it still sucks, and it’s another blow for the DCEU, which desperately needs a slam-dunk that an Affleck directed Batman movie would’ve given them. But at the same time, the movie is still being produced, written, and starring Ben Affleck, so it’s not a complete loss. Plus, it also seems like Affleck would be up for co-directing the movie, which I think would be the best of both worlds. While it’s too early to guess who will be filling that director’s chair (early rumors say War For The Planet Of The Apes director Matt Reeves is Affleck’s first choice), it still sounds like Affleck is more than ready to get back into the Batsuit, which in the end is what really matters.