“I cannot do both jobs to the level they require.”
According to a report from Variety, Ben Affleck will be stepping down as the director of the upcoming Batman solo flick, remaining attatched to the project as the titular Caped Crusader, and as a producer.
Reportedly, Affleck and Warner Bros. came to the decision mutually after (troublingly) “discussing how to best make the film possible.” Sources say the decision “had nothing to do with the recent disappointment of Affleck’s recent directing job Live by Night,” and was based entirely on what would be best for the standalone DC project. Said Affleck:
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.
While this news is relatively unsurprising, it’s worth noting that Affleck took to Jimmy Kimmel Live as recently as January 10th to affirm his dedication to direct, and merely asked for some patience while he finished the script (quote, “Bro I’m workin’, give me a second”). Evidently since then things have changed, with THR reporting that Affleck and the film’s executives have been unhappy with the script in recent weeks.
Given how cool Affleck’s neo-noir throwback vision sounded, it’s a bummer that he won’t be in the director’s chair. But no one wants to see Affleck forced to helm a Batman film out of studio, financial, or fan pressure. The only good thing that could come of that would be more gif shorthands for crushing modern existential ennui.
I’m not sure DC can afford any more David “wish I had a time machine” Ayer-level regret from its directors. So in that respect, Affleck prioritizing the integrity of the film is a good look for the DCEU. That being said, the project might be in a bad way if Affleck’s departure is less a “I can’t do both jobs well,” situation than a “rats fleeing a sinking ship” situation. Not to say that films with troubled productions can’t succeed or that Affleck doesn’t have sincere feelings for the property, but the hiccups of the Batman solo flick don’t bode well in the larger context of the DCEU’s recent critical track record. Maybe letting the dude responsible for Sucker Punch set the standard for the brand was a bad call (it was).
And while there’s some hope in Geoff Johns’ initiative to lighten things up, perhaps DC should take a page from Affleck and pack it in until they can assure that the content they’re producing is up to snuff. Also psst, DCEU, no one will be mad at you if you scrap your current cinematic universe and take a mulligan. Get you a Kevin Feige, and try again. And please come back with a commitment to a diverse portfolio because I swear to god I can only see Martha Wayne clutch her pearls while being gunned to death in an alley so many times.
Affleck has played the Dark Knight in last year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. He will appear in November’s Justice League.