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Ben Affleck Won’t Direct The Batman. He’ll Still Star, Obviously

batman

After the disappointing box-office return on Live By Night, the period gangster film that Ben Affleck directed and also wrote (or, at least, adapted from the original book by Dennis Lehane), it seems like ol’ Batfleck has decided to change gears.

As recently as two weeks ago, during his late-night interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Ben Affleck was assuring everyone that he still planned to direct The Batman (the project’s working title). At the time, he did admit that he felt frustrated that audiences seemed to care more about Batman than Live By Night. Earlier this month, Affleck seemed cagey about the whole concept of doing a solo Batman film at all, saying that he would only do the project if the script were good enough.

That still seems to be a concern, given the press this week about Ben Affleck stepping down as director and seeking a new person to fill that role. He gave this statement about the 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.”

THR reports that “one insider says that Live by Night‘s poor performance caused Affleck to rethink his approach to his projects,” which would make sense. It’s not a bad thing to ask for help, though, and The Batman sounds like quite the daunting task.

It seems like Affleck is already stretched pretty thin creatively with The Batman as it is, since he also helped co-write the script with Geoff Johns. Deadline reports that a rewrite by Chris Terrio, who penned the Affleck-helmed Oscar winner Argo, has also recently come through. Clearly, Affleck is reaching out to other creative people who’ve not steered him wrong in the past, since the pressure is really on when it comes to The Batman.

There’s a huge amount of pressure for DC Entertainment and Warner Brothers when it comes to this movie as well. Although Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman raked in excellent box office returns, they were critically panned, and it’s unclear how much longer audiences’ goodwill can last when it comes to seeing mediocre movies about iconic DC heroes. The Batman brand can go a long way, but no one wants to see it done poorly. Ben Affleck definitely doesn’t, since he seems to be trying to make a name for himself as a more serious and artistic actor/director/writer in recent years, rather than “just” an action hero.

Hopefully, Affleck will end up finding a creative team that can make a decent Batman movie. To be honest, I don’t even think it has to be great. It just needs to be okay. The bar is pretty low, actually. Maybe that can serve as some consolation to any future creatives tapped to join this project.

(via Vanity Fair, image via Warner Bros. Pictures)

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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).