1. Does Affleck Believe He’s the Best Director for the Job?
In 2012, GQ dubbed Ben Affleck “Filmmaker of the Year” after his acclaimed directorial work on Argo. Prior to that, he’d sat behind the camera for features such as 2007’s Gone Baby Gone and the Oscar-nominated crime drama, The Town. Both of the latter prove he can tackle Gotham’s seedy underworld. However, even in a post-Nolan era, Batman and high-action still go hand in hand. Fans and critics alike were certain the director and his style would mesh well with the vigilante. His talk of wanting to emphasize the World’s Greatest Detective aspect of the lore left many salivating at the mouth. But does Affleck’s confidence mirror that of the audience? This is another question that may never be answered.
David Ayer has shown that stepping out of one’s comfort zone into the world of superheroes isn’t so bad, barring criticism, of course. The Russo Brothers make filming Captain America movies after years of working on a comedy television show look like a walk in the park. With those examples in mind, Affleck’s a perfect fit — instant success seems like a given. Yet, Ayer’s outspoken nature likely softened the tension for him, and the Russos being unknown prior to The Winter Soldier may have given them the seclusion Affleck desired. As such, his celebrity tipped the scales for him unfavorably.
Despite having the chops and most Bat-fans in his corner, directing a blockbuster film, a first for him in terms of scale, would require him to flex muscles he’s likely unfamiliar with having to use. Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is proof audiences want superhero movies to make them think. But the MCU has put spectacle and humor on the forefront, meaning yet another adjustment for the director of acclaimed crime dramas and thrillers. Who doesn’t want the ante to increase on the Nolan-formula for Batman? DCEU reception seems to suggest not very many people are interested. And this could be the problem. Perhaps Affleck has misconstrued critical and audience criticism. The market may still have a place for dark superhero films with an edge that makes you think, but the spot is only reserved for those done right. Yes, BvS is polarizing, but its flaws (even in the superior R-rated cut) are unmistakable.
I and countless others believe Ben Affleck could have delivered a Batman movie to rival Christopher Nolan’s beloved work. It seems Affleck himself wasn’t so confident. Thus, he withdrew out of respect for the character and legions of expecting fans.
“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,” said the actor in a statement announcing his directorial resignation.
It’s a shame, but he’s shown nothing but his commitment to the project since day one. If said commitment includes his choosing to step down as director, then so be it. For now, he may not be the visionary we need. But his passion shows he’s the Batman fans deserve. Hopefully, Affleck and the studio aren’t too hard pressed to find someone with just as much heart to helm the next chapter in the character’s ever-evolving cinematic history.