The Batman treatment we deserve, but not the one Ben Affleck can commit to right now.
While audiences can count on Ben Affleck to reprise his Batman v. Superman role in November’s Justice League, his involvement with Warner Bros’ solo Batman feature, tentatively titled The Batman, is becoming less and less certain.
Last year, Warner Bros. head honcho Kevin Tsujihara confirmed that Affleck would direct and star in the standalone film. However, in a recent interview with The Guardian, Affleck seemed far from committal. When asked about his directorial involvement Affleck responded:
That’s the idea. But it’s not a set thing and there’s no script. If it doesn’t come together in a way I think is really great I’m not going to do it.
While it’s not exactly clear when the Guardian interview took place, it was only two weeks ago that Affleck told Variety the project was “on the right track” and that “everything [was] coming together.” For fans of Affleck’s vision of a Maltese Falcon-inspired throwback detective caper, this uncertainty is disheartening. Tsujihara’s apparent confirmation, coupled with reports that Justice League shifted its schedule to accommodate the project, spurred excitement ‐ and Affleck tweeting sub-screen caliber footage of DC villain Deathstroke from the Justice League set didn’t help.
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) August 29, 2016
Expectations notwithstanding, Affleck has been equivocating since (at the very least) this past June. Speaking to press on the set of Justice League, he explained: “[the Batman project]’s something that would have to pass a very high bar for me…It’s not just like, ‘Yeah, that might be fun, let’s go try this out.’” Early this December, he told EW, “there’s not enough money in the world to make a mediocre version of Batman worth it.”
Affleck’s hesitation to commit to a project he doesn’t believe in is commendable. Not wanting to rush filming, or produce a disappointing product should be considered praiseworthy, if not simply good directorial practice. Given his recent career revival, and the less-than-stellar critical reception of Batman v Superman, Affleck’s probably wise to avoid being shackled to a sinking ship (or at least, one with worrisome holes). While it’s unfortunate that we may have to shelf our dreams of an Affleck-helmed Batman, it goes without saying that a sub-par product is the worse option.
For those looking for solace in these uncertain Bat-times, a set-in-stone standalone cinematic iteration of the Caped Crusader is alive and well (if admittedly, much, much more silly) in The LEGO Batman Movie. The joyfully irreverent Great Gatsby-inspired New Year’s Eve promo is an orgy of evidence that the filmmakers are having a blast. There’s little doubt those involved believe wholeheartedly in their (silly, silly) Batman.
Justice League premieres November 17th, 2017.