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Ben Affleck Seems Frustrated That People Care More About Batman Than Live By Night

I’m getting the impression that Ben Affleck is tired of people asking him about that solo Batman movie that he may or may not be doing. He joked around about it on Jimmy Kimmel Live! this week, but the truth is told in laughter, and based on this interview clip, it does seem as though Affleck is genuinely disappointed that audiences care more about Batman than they did about his latest gangster movie, Live By Night.

Here’s the quote in question:

“I’m going to direct the next Batman. We’re working on it. It’s one of those things that’s really frustrating, because Live by Night took me a year-and-a-half to write it and get it ready. And I worked really hard. It’s just, nobody gave a sh**. Nobody was like, ‘Where’s Live by Night?’ But with Batman I keep on getting, ‘Where’s the f***ing Batman?!’ And I’m like, ‘Whoa, I’m working! Give me a second!'”

Considering that Live By Night currently boasts a 33% score on Rotten Tomatoes, I can think of a few reasons why “nobody gave a shit” about it. And, even before the movie came out, it’s kind of a no-brainer that Batman has a bigger fan following than, well, just about anything.

Of course, bad reviews don’t necessarily lead to a bad box office return, but, unfortunately, in Live By Night‘s case, it does seem as though both audiences and critics alike were disinterested in the project. The movie ended up getting overshadowed in terms of box office draw by Rogue One, Hidden Figures, and La La Land, all of which fared better during the holiday movie schedule… and all of which received more critical acclaim, and even some award recognition.

One reviewer for Live By Night even went so far as to say that it “feels like a rushed project that Affleck had to get out of the way before he plays Batman again.” Based on Affleck’s statements about the movie, that doesn’t seem entirely fair, since it sounds like he tried to give Live By Night his full attention–but, unfortunately, since getting cast as Batman, it does seem as though the caped crusader has overshadowed the rest of Affleck’s career in a big way. Even if Affleck isn’t obsessed with playing Batman, everyone else is obsessed with seeing him do it.

In spite of all those statements made by celebrities and critics over the past few years about the supposed issue of “superhero fatigue,” it doesn’t seem like any of us actually suffer from it. Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman received middling reviews from critics, but they still dominated at the box office, and I would assume that’s entirely based on the pre-existing fandom for all things Batman-related. We all want to see Batman done well, but it looks like we’re also willing to see Batman done poorly, so long as it’s Batman.

In spite of the roar of desperate fans, it doesn’t seem like Ben Affleck is 100% on board with this whole Batman thing. The last time he discussed the project, he had a lot of reservations, saying that a solo movie was “not a set thing” and that he was setting a high bar in terms of script quality. Even though Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad made a bunch of cash, I get the impression from Ben Affleck’s latest projects that he’d rather have more credibility as an artiste these days, not just as an action movie blockbuster-maker.

Yet, I expect Affleck will continue to hear questions from the press about Batman for the next several years of his life. It’ll be interesting to see whether that ends up affecting the project. From my vantage point, that level of pressure definitely doesn’t seem like a good outlook for a movie, particularly given that Affleck doesn’t seem as excited about the project as everybody else. But, hey, Bruce Wayne himself was always a reluctant hero… so, perhaps, Affleck can just funnel these feelings back into the project and produce something interesting in the end.

(via ET Online, image via screencap)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).