Ben Affleck Is Taking His Time on the Batman Movie, Possibly Throwing Shade at WB
One of the biggest problems (and one that we’ve covered quite a bit) with Warner Bros’ DCEU is the way the studio is reverse-engineering its Justice League franchise. Instead of establishing their characters in individual films and slowly building toward a big crossover, they’ve done the reverse. And by building their productions around meeting a release date deadline, they wind up with films that are kind of a mess. If Ben Affleck’s approach to his Batman standalone film (and the recent decision to delay Justice League 2) is any indication, then maybe — just maybe — WB is learning from their mistakes.
During a recent live chat with The New York Times (via Screen Rant), Affleck was asked for an update on his upcoming Batman solo film. Inspiring a bit of optimism, Affleck explains that he’s taking a smarter approach to his own DCEU movie by ensuring that the script — which he’s co-writing with Geoff Johns — is right before setting a production schedule and release date. He also throws some not-so-subtle shade at WB:
Chip McGrath, moderator: So you just mentioned that you’ve made a sequel, and there’s going to be yet another sequel, but in the meantime you’re down I believe to write, direct and star in a standalone Batman movie, is that right?
Affleck: That’s the idea, yeah, that’s the idea. We still have to get a screenplay and get it together-
McGrath: I thought you were going to write it?
Affleck: I am; that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be good. [laughs] I’m a real believer in not doing, not reverse engineering projects to meet a window or a date, but rather like when you get the right story or you get the right idea or you get the right thing, then you make the movie. And so that’s what we’re doing, and I’m hoping to get that done and spending a lot of time on that, but I’m also working on other stuff. And if I could, if I can find it right then there’s nothing I’d love more than to direct a standalone, you know, iconic great Batman movie.
“Reverse-engineering projects to meet a window or date” is exactly what the DCEU has been doing — which is how we end up with Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, two films that were in such a rush to catch up with the MCU, and so determined to meet their pre-ordained release dates, that the respective finished products felt narratively and tonally schizophrenic. Rather than patiently build these characters and worlds, Zack Snyder and WB stuffed in so many heroes and villains and easter eggs and cameos, as if they were scrambling to make up for lost time. The reasoning is understandable, but the films suffer for it.
At least Affleck is aware that this approach is a problem, and the way he explains it, it seems as though his position directing the new Batman standalone movie isn’t set in stone just yet — at least not until the script is right. Just the other day we learned that WB has reportedly delayed Justice League 2 to make room for Affleck’s Batman movie; now that Affleck has more input on the franchise as a whole, maybe WB will come around to his way of thinking.