After what felt like a never-ending saga, Ben Affleck finally confirmed that he’s hanging up the cape and cowl and not starring in The Batman. It brought to a close nearly two years of constant speculation about his status in the DC Extended Universe.
Speaking on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Affleck said, “I tried to direct a version of it and worked with a really good screenwriter, but just couldn’t come up with a version—I couldn’t crack it. And so it was time to let someone take a shot at it. They’ve got some really good people so I’m excited.”
It’s a puzzling comment, considering his official statement when he departed the director/writer’s chair of The Batman. “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,” he said. “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.”
Then, at Comic-Con 2017, Affleck affirmed he’d still be starring in the film, which had already been confirmed to be written and directed by Matt Reeves. “I’m the luckiest guy. Batman is the coolest f***ing part in any universe, DC, Marvel. I’m so excited to do it. I think there’s this misconception that because I’m not directing it, I’m not doing it, but I’m so excited to be Batman,” he said, adding he’d be “an ape on the floor” for Reeves.
A year and a half later and it was all lip service.
So, which is the truth here? If you read all his recent statements, it sounds as if he was out the moment that he announced his departure as the director of the film. However, it’s completely at odds with his subsequent comments, which assured fans he’d still be starring as the Caped Crusader.
It’s common knowledge that Reeves is searching for a younger actor to play the Dark Knight, but this must’ve been known when he pitched his version of the character and storyline from the get-go. No director walks into the Warner Bros. office and tells the studio they’ll write a spec script and see where it goes. The vision and direction are agreed upon beforehand, especially with a massive franchise like Batman. Thus, Warner Bros., Affleck, and Reeves knew he was out the moment Reeves’ film was greenlit.
Of course, the probable truth is that Warner Bros. told Affleck to shut up and just go with it. At that stage, Justice League was still in production and the studio had dealt with enough controversy surrounding it. Announcing Affleck’s departure at that stage would’ve been the final death knell in the movie. So, they all did what Hollywood does best: lie.
Do you think Ben Affleck retired his cape and cowl as early as 2017? Let us know in the comments!