This deal is getting worse all the time!
It’s no secret that the DC Expanded Universe is in search for a critical hit. All three films in the universe so far have been pretty poorly received, with a complete slippery slope of critical reception. Man of Steel got a 55% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice doing about half as well with a 27%, and Suicide Squad right beneath it at 26%. And yes, though Rotten Tomatoes isn’t the end-all-be-all of consensus, it’s not like scores of such low range aren’t disheartening to DC and Warner Bros. They need a well respected hit and, though the jury is still out on this year’s Wonder Woman and Justice League, by far the surest bet on the horizon is (as always) the next Batman movie.
The film, entitled The Batman, was going to be directed by and star Ben Affleck, who seemed to have joined on to Batman v. Superman specifically so he could work on the film. But, as you might have noticed, the word “was” is in the previous statement. According to Variety, Affleck is no longer going to helm the project, leaving the movie at this point director-less. Affleck will stay on as a producer and still play Bruce Wayne/Batman, but it will no longer be his vision propelling the film forward.
Affleck released the following statement explaining his decision:
“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.”
Variety was quick to shift blame away from the disappointment of Affleck’s last directorial effort, Live By Night, which is something of a financial bomb. According to the studio, this was a mutual decision by them and Affleck in order to make the best film they could.
And, for what it’s worth, that may still happen. While Affleck directing a Batman movie sounded fantastic, there’s plenty of other directors who could do a great job of bringing the Caped Crusader to life. Of course that’s only wishful thinking: for all we know, WB could go and make a relatively boring choice for director, one that really does little to light the fire on this universe in the way they need it to.
At this point I’m in “wait and see” mode when it comes to the prospects of The Batman but, even still, this comes as a pretty substantial blow to a franchise that, quite frankly, can’t take any more blows before it finally topples over. Let’s just hope whoever WB brings on to handle The Batman will be able to right the ship. I’ll keep you posted.