People are still getting over the shocking announcement from Ben Affleck earlier this week, stating that he would no longer direct The Batman. Sure, he’s been hesitant all along, hinting that he wasn’t completely happy with the script, but I don’t think anyone actually expected him to step down from the director’s chair. Turns out though that he just couldn’t resolve his differences with the studio and now, Warner Bros. is left to find a replacement.
They haven’t announced yet who might be stepping in to take the job, but a shortlist points to Matt Reeves and George Miller being the top picks, among others. Whoever ends up being selected, they’ll have an unbelievably tough task ahead of them. Expectations for The Batman are sky high and there’s a lot riding on it. We don’t want to say that the film stands no chance of meeting those expectations, but it’s going to be incredibly difficult to do so, which is exactly why Affleck may have stepped down.
At least, that’s according to Kevin Smith. While the director hasn’t spoken to Big Ben about the matter himself, he did offer his thoughts as to why he thinks Affleck gave up on helming the movie and he suggests that it’s simply because the Batman V Superman star just didn’t want to deal with the pressure.
“Let’s talk about why? Why would this happen? I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to him in years, but here’s my take on it. Here’s my hot take. What’s the upshot? Seriously. Everybody wants that to be the greatest Batman movie ever made, and you know, in many cases, maybe the greatest Batman movie ever made has been made.
It’s called The Dark Knight and it’s a pretty wonderful film. If that’s your bar for a Batman standalone, Chris Nolan couldn’t even measure up to himself with The Dark Knight Rises. I liked it but it wasn’t received nearly as well. Let’s be honest like that Joker portrayal is for the ages. F***** beyond brilliant and s***.”
Smith makes a great point there with the comparison to The Dark Knight. That’s a lot to live up to and any filmmaker would surely be fearful of having their work compared to such an iconic movie. As Smith says, not even Nolan could compete with it when he made The Dark Knight Rises, so what chance does Affleck have? That’s not to say he’s a poor director. The Town and Argo, among others, have shown us that he knows how to handle the camera. It’s just that it’d be mighty difficult to compete with what’s arguably the greatest comic book movie of all-time.
Smith then continued on, saying that now that Ben isn’t directing, he can’t be blamed if the film turns out to be a bomb, or doesn’t live up to the hype:
“It’s a tall order man” Smith continued, “so maybe he’s the kind of guy who’s just like why bother. Why am I going to step up to the plate, no matter what I do people are going to b****. If it ain’t f****** The Dark Knight, I’m f*****, but if I’m just acting in it, my name’s Paul and this is between ya’ll, I’m just the Bat, that’s it. The guy or girl tells me what to do and go and so you got a beef with the movie? Talk to these motherf******. That’s easier. That’s an easier life. You don’t have to sit there and take the slings and arrows.”
Again, Smith hasn’t actually spoken to Affleck, so this is purely speculation, but it certainly makes sense. It’s no secret that the press has been hounding Ben about this project for years now and the actor’s noted on more than one occasion that he was getting sick of it. It’s a lot for one guy to take and it’s not too difficult to see why he may have wanted to pass the job off to someone else, so he doesn’t have to take the blame if The Batman fails to live up to expectations. And, given that they’re so high right now, it probably will.
That doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily be a bad film, but with the amount of hype, excitement and scrutiny surrounding it, there’s no way that it’s going to end up pleasing everybody. That, coupled with the fact that apparently Affleck didn’t see eye to eye with Warner Bros. on the script likely led to his exit. Of course, the actor would have you believe otherwise, as his original statement said the following:
“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.”
While that may be somewhat true, it’s also not too difficult to read between the lines and see what’s really going on. It’s unfortunate, to be sure, but when you put that amount of pressure on someone they’re bound to buckle. Ben Affleck may be a movie star, but he’s also human, and he probably just didn’t want to have to deal with all this if he didn’t feel like he could make the best Batman film possible, which he couldn’t do if he wasn’t on board with the script.
Unfortunately, we’ll now never know what an Affleck-directed Caped Crusader movie will look like, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on The Batman, or the DCEU, just yet. He’s still set to star in it, for now at least, and the names that Warner Bros. have been looking at to direct do sound promising – especially George Miller.
There’s no denying that Ben’s departure from behind the camera is troubling and probably doesn’t bode too well for the project, but until we hear a bit more about who’s going to helm and what exactly the plan is, we’ll continue to remain cautiously optimistic that it’ll turn out to be the film that fans want. As long as Warner Bros. doesn’t end up going with Zack Snyder, that is.
Tell us, what do you make of all this? Do you think that The Batman still stands a chance of being a hit? And is Smith correct in his assessment of why Affleck stepped down from directing? Share your comments with us in the usual place!